Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has indicated that the tyre giant would be happy to remain in F1, with or without competition from rivals, provided the conditions under which it supplies the field remain favourable.
The Italian company has been the sole supplier of rubber to the twelve F1 teams since the start of 2011 - when it bailed the sport out following the sudden exit of Bridgestone - and has responded to calls to make the racing more unpredictable through the provision of tyres with vastly different wear characteristics to those previously employed. While that decision has not always met with universal approval from teams and drivers - and has been used as a target for rival brands - Hembery insists that Pirelli has benefited from its involvement and would look to continue its role beyond the terms of its current deal at the end of the 2013 season..
"We need to have a decision from the sport by June of next year, that's the closing date, although that's very late and in reality I think we need an indication before the end of this year," he told ESPN
, "If the sport would like us to continue and if the overall conditions remain competitive and the sport has the vision that we think it has going forwards, then it remains an attractive proposition for Pirelli.
"We see great benefit in a sport that is genuinely global - in fact, you struggle to think of any that are genuinely global every year. F1 is a unique proposition from that point of view and that appeals to us as we're growing in regions like Asia and in countries like Russia and the USA. There seems to be a considerable effort from the organisers and the promoters to finally get the USA sorted and back on the map.
"These are all areas where we want to be seen to be present as a business, so it has a good fit with our business plan. The board at the moment are very happy but, of course, things could change - the rules could change, costs might change substantially and those are all question marks that you always have to review.
"So when and if the sport wants us to continue and says it is happy with what we are doing, then we'll look at how we come to an agreement and, if it makes sense and the return is still in line with the investment, then we will be happy to go on."
Despite recently calling a tyre war 'pointless' as it would push the cost of competing through the roof [see story here
], Hembery admitted that the engineer in him would be intrigued by the prospect of Pirelli going up against a rival brand.
"If I put my engineering hat on then, yes, let's do it, it's good fun," he conceded, "But, if you look at it from a cost/benefit analysis and how you convey winning against another competitor, then it's almost impossible.
"As for the teams themselves, they recognise the cost increases when there is a tyre competition. If people today say it's difficult mastering the tyres and that it is a big question mark then if you have a tyre competition they will spend a huge amount of money trying to maximise the performance advantage of an individual tyre. Things go in waves and maybe there will be a point in time when there is that stimulation that the teams would like, but there is no appetite for that at the moment."