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Boullier: Tyre switch would add to complicated winter
30 August 2013
Rumours that Michelin may be poised to replace Pirelli as F1's exclusive tyre supplier have not gone down well with everyone, with Lotus team principal Eric Boullier adding his voice to warnings that it is too late to make that change.
With Pirelli still seeking a contract extension from the FIA, the door is still open for a potential change of supplier, but Boullier echoes Pirelli's Paul Hembery in claiming that forcing a new element into the design process ahead of 2014 would be problematic for the teams, who are already having to deal with one of the biggest technical overhauls the sport has seen.
With a new engine and drivetrain formula being introduced – swapping the current V8 for turbocharged 1.6-litre V6s – and greater importance being placed on regenerative technology, Boullier insists that design teams already have enough on their plate, without Michelin coming in with its own take on tyres.
The French manufacturer is insistent that any return to F1 must go hand-in-hand with the end of current thinking, where tyres are expected to degrade quickly in order to promote overtaking and make pit-stops a more tactical element of the sport. The company is also hoping to persuade the rulemakers to introduce 18-inch rims in place of the current 15-inch examples to make F1 tyres more relevant to its road-going products.
"We have Pirelli and we are working with them and we are doing everything that we can to obviously make the package better," Boullier told ESPN F1
, "It's going to be a complicated winter already, and complicated enough next year, so the less change the better."
Hembery, albeit with a bias towards Pirelli keeping its current deal, has already described the potential for a change of supplier as 'farcical', insisting that time is running out in the race to provide the teams with the necessary data on next year's tyres, which he expects to be more conservative than this year's in a bid to help bridge the move to different technical regulations. Michelin, meanwhile, has played down the possibility of it returning in 2014, but claims that October would be the latest it would consider an invitation…
While the FIA prevaricates on inking a deal with Pirelli, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone – who is opposed to two suppliers indulging in a 'tyre war' - insists that he has no plans to talk to Michelin, as was claimed over the Belgian GP weekend.
"FOM and Pirelli have a contract," he told respected journalist Adam Cooper, "We don't need [a contract with the FIA]. They are nothing to do with commercial. The FIA's position is that they are regulators. They regulate all the regulations that have been agreed."