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SBD Global/November 18, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Pirelli's Hembery Says Tiremaker Has Extended Deal With F1 For Three Years



Despite a bumpy season, F1 has extended its tire deal with Pirelli.
Pirelli Motorsports Dir Paul Hembery said that the Italian tiremaker has signed a new deal and will continue to supply F1 with its product. “It’s done, everything is done. I mean you have the lawyers to sign off. You have three groups, you got the teams, you got the promoter and the FIA, but it’s done,” Hembery said at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. While Hembery did not go into detail about the new deal, it is expected that Pirelli will extend its expiring three-year deal for another three years and remain F1's tire supplier through ’16. Pirelli has been F1’s sole tire supplier since ’11 following Bridgestone’s withdrawal from the series. Asked how important the F1 deal is for the company, Hembery said, “It’s something that we want to do. The reasons we entered the sport remain the same. It’s a huge global platform. It does go across the world; it’s unique in that. It has a very large global reach.” While the F1 World Championship has become a truly global sport, the majority of its teams, drivers and fans are still largely European-based. Hembery: “It needs to grow even more outside of Europe. It still has a lot of European-based fans, but we are seeing it. We come here to the U.S. and see a huge level of interest in a country that apparently wasn’t very keen on Formula One, and judging by the people who are coming that’s not strictly true.”

CONTROVERSIAL CAMPAIGN: Despite having reached a deal to continue in the sport, the ’13 season has been everything but smooth sailing for Pirelli. There has been “Tiregate,” the tire-failure fiasco at Silverstone, and numerous complaints by drivers and teams. Hembery: “Unfortunately we are not really sure why we’ve ended up being caught in that crossfire between the teams -- maybe they’ve forgotten we are not a competitor. Actually everybody has exactly the same product and exactly the same challenge. Whether you like it or not is a different matter. That has been slightly disappointing that people have forgotten what we were asked to do.“ Pirelli was asked to supply tires to do races between two to three stops and to create a challenge, Hembery said. “So, it’s been a bit strange when you have had some people complaining sometimes that the product isn’t what they want when the person in front of them is using the same tires.” Going forward, Pirelli will be a lot more conservative when it comes to tire composition in order to avoid the harsh criticism it received this year. Hembery labeled the ’13 campaign as one with very stimulating and exciting races, but also some frustrations. “You live and learn,” he said.
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