30 September 2015
Pirelli will consider own future if Red Bull quits F1
Paul Hembery says any exit by Red Bull from Formula 1 could lead to Pirelli questioning its own involvement in the sport too.
Paul Hembery says Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso's potential exit from Formula 1 would be a 'significant disaster' if they proceeded to withdraw, one that could in turn prompt Pirelli to also consider its own future in the sport.
Currently in contention with Michelin for the new tyre supply contract that comes into force from 2017, Pirelli has already issued one quit threat in the last month after declaring it will only continue to supply if it is granted a significant amount of test days in 2016 ahead of wholesale changes in regulations for the following year.
However, this may not prove to be the only motivation for Pirelli to consider its future in the sport, with Hembery saying it is very concerned by the potential exit of both Red Bull and Toro Rosso over ongoing negotiations to source a competitive engine deal for 2016.
Praising Red Bull's efforts to promote itself, F1 and the Pirelli to new markets via its popular street demonstration runs, its junior development programme and its significant push in marketing beyond the traditional channels, Hembery says the loss of the Austrian outfit would be a huge blow to the sport for more than just grid numbers.
"Red Bull and Toro Rosso, for us, are two very important teams,” he told Crash.net “We admire what they've done for the sport in terms of driver development; they work at grassroots bringing drivers through to F1, from Sebastian Vettel to the four talents they have this year.
“They're also a team that goes outside of the Formula 1 circus to promote the sport, they invest significant sums of money in going to new locations, taking F1 to the streets of cities that don't stage F1 to try and create interest.
“From our point of view, as a sponsor, any risk of losing both those teams would be a significant disaster for Formula 1.”
Indeed, Hembery goes on to say any Red Bull exit would have ramifications for Pirelli in its capacity as a sponsor, admitting its own future in the sport could be brought into question as a result.
“It would make us think very heavily [over our future]. To lose two high quality, well-funded, professional teams – and I can't imagine there would be immediate replacements even though we have Haas entering next year – then you are going to be worried.
“I know people say teams come and go, but we are talking about a very serious investment made over a significant number of years by Red Bull, and from our point of view, it would weaken the sport dramatically.”
With Pirelli throwing its weight of support behind Red Bull, Hembery says it has made its position clear to Bernie Ecclestone over the matter too.
“We've certainly given our thoughts to Red Bull and Christian [Horner], that we most definitely don't want to lose his team and Toro Rosso from Formula 1,” he continued. “I'm quite sure Bernie knows what we think, as I'm sure every other sponsor would feel the same.”
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