Despite concerns that it is struggling to get teams to sign up to an extension of its current contract, Pirelli president Marco Tronchetti Provera is confident that his company will continue as F1's sole tyre supplier beyond 2013.
The new row over a three-day Barcelona test with Mercedes notwithstanding, Provera told Spanish newspaper AS
that he expected a deal to be concluded before too long, ending suggestions that the sport could be left without a supplier should the prevarication cause Pirelli to walk away.
"We are approaching the conditions [to sign]," Provera insisted, "The fact is that Bernie [Ecclestone] is happy with us and our company is still interested in the F1 project, so I hope we can get to an agreement soon and all will be well.”
Provera's optimism comes in the wake of motorsport director Paul Hembery hinting that it would be beyond the realms of possibility for Pirelli to turn its back on F1 should the teams not be able to agree terms for an extension [ see separate story
]. The Briton pointed out that certain information about next year's cars would be essential for the development of the 2014 tyres, and said that an internal deadline had been set for the completion of a new contract.
The revelation that Pirelli had conducted a three-day development test with Mercedes in the wake of the Spanish Grand Prix [ see separate story
] has raised the spectre of possible sanctions being taken against the team, but it is hard to see how the tyre company can be punished. Ironically, the test was ostensibly to test tyres destined for use next season although Hembery admitted that the revised rubber being considered for introduction in Montreal next month was also amongst the various batches being evaluated.
Despite the latest controversy, Provera insisted that he was proud of what Pirelli had achieved during its recent return to the top flight.
"We were asked to add more 'show' to the races, and I think the races are better now than before our arrival, so we have succeeded," he said, before echoing Hembery's claims that being forced to conduct its limited tests with only 'a car several years old' at its disposal had contributed to the excessive wear problems being seen in 2013.
Driver-turned-pundit Martin Brundle commented in the wake of the Barcelona test revelations that forcing Pirelli to run with out-dated machinery was 'lunacy' [ see separate story
], but the current sporting regulations prevent the use of current cars, hence the outcry over Mercedes' involvement.