Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery has confirmed that the company is looking at several proposals for its future involvement in F1, including the contemplation of a tyre war with one or more rivals.
Speaking on the opening day of practice at the Monaco Grand Prix, Hembery acknowledged reports that Pirelli was considering giving the teams the power to choose their own tyre compounds, as well as introducing wider rear rubber ahead of the next supply tender for the top flight
“I guess there were a couple of points that came out [of the F1 Strategy Group meeting] that relate to tyres,” he noted, “One was regarding the choice of compounds made by the teams and we're working in that regard with Charlie [Whiting] and the FIA to come up with a proposal that meets that requirements, that gives us a level of safety in the choices made and also to provide something interesting for the fans.
“That's ongoing, but it looks positive from what we've seen so far. Then, for 2017, obviously we don't know whether we will be here or not, but the idea of going to wider, 420 width tyres, was something we feel is a good idea.”
Teams are currently limited to the two tyre choices presented by Pirelli for each race, with the softer of the two generally designated as the 'option' tyre, although each driver has to run both compounds in a normal race. On the table, however, is the proposal that each team could choose which tyres from the full Pirelli range it wanted to run on any given weekend as the sport looks to tweak itself in the interests of speed and spectacle.
“We're working on a solution with the FIA that meets that requirement, but also guarantees that we have a level of security over the choices made [while] giving the sport itself some interesting elements,” Hembery reiterated, “We're confident and I think, from initial discussions, we're on a good road to finding a solution for that.
“[In terms of] going quicker, it depends on how you achieve that. Wider tyres would certainly help [but], from a tyre maker's point of view, you'd want to know how you can contest that. We have limitations on testing today and, if the cars are going to change dramatically, you wouldn't really want to end up in Jerez in February, in the winter, trying to find out if it's going to be workable solution or not. The principal is fine, there needs to be a little bit of work done on the practicalities.”
Hembery also repeated that Pirelli would not shy away from competition in F1, with Michelin rumoured to be testing the ground for a possible return should the rules regarding wheel size be tweaked in its favour.
“We don't write the rules for F1, [but] we're involved in over 250 championships - of which about 90 are open competition - so it depends what the sport wants,” the Briton commented, “Then you've got to understand the rules, what the cost implications would be, so you can't really have an answer until you know the parameters.
“At the moment, the tender will be for a single supplier so, in 2017, I might be here or I might be sat on a boat having some champagne and watching it. It's a phase that you go through with various championships, so there would be a phase where the FIA will evaluate the technical competences of people who want to supply and then there's an aspect – the important bit - which is the commercial aspect with the promoter. There's a timetable set out and we will obviously know before the end of the year.”