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.
British Olympic Association Chair Sebastian Coe said that the World Anti-Doping Agency is "risking the reputation of some of the world's best athletes by not enforcing rigorous anti-doping regimes in Kenya and Jamaica," according to Ben Smith of the BBC. Coe: "Jamaica and Kenya are two powerhouses of track and field and we must make sure those athletes are in a system that protects the reputation of those who choose to do it cleanly." Coe, who is "expected to succeed Lamine Diack as president" of the Int'l Association of Athletics Federations in '15, defended the "world governing body's own drug testing programme and insisted the success of Usain Bolt and other Jamaican sprinters should not be viewed with suspicion." Coe said, "No one should run away with the idea that Jamaican or Kenyan athletes are sliding through a system where they are not being tested. Bolt was tested more than any athlete in any sport last year. He is the most tested athlete on the planet." Coe added that "athletics must win the war on doping or risk losing the public's trust forever." Coe: "If you said to me 'Is this a war we can afford to lose?' The answer is that it isn't" (BBC, 11/15). In Kingston, André Lowe reported Diack "also put to bed arguments that countries like Jamaica, who had featured in WADA's crosshairs over doubts in the integrity of its drug-testing machinery, could be barred from competing at the Olympics in the absence of improvements." Diack said, "I read in the newspapers how WADA are going there and they are going to suspend (Jamaica from the Olympics). They cannot suspend anybody!" (JAMAICA GLEANER, 11/17).
The Caribbean Football Union and Major League Soccer have signed a "partnership agreement in Antigua that will showcase young Caribbean football talent to the MLS and give the players the opportunity to progress towards professional football" in the U.S., according to Paul Nicholson of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. The first MLS Caribbean Player Combine will take place Jan. 2-5 at the Antigua Recreation Grounds, and will include "training sessions and games against local clubs." This is the "first initiative of its kind in the Caribbean." Elite players aged 18-22 will play in front of MLS scouts, with the "best players being invited to the annual adidas MLS Player Combine" in Florida later that month. CFU President Gordon Derrick said, "It is important that we involve all 31 of our Caribbean federations. Federations will be invited to nominate their top two players for the Combine" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 11/15).
The "reservations of Cricket Australia are thought to be behind a delay in announcing proposed changes to the decision review system," according to Simon Wilde of the SUNDAY TIMES. The Australian board and the Int'l Cricket Council held talks three days ago on the "addition of Real Time Snicko (RTS), which aims to minimise the scope for the kind of umpiring controversies that marred the Ashes series in England." England "support RTS, which has been tested to the ICC’s satisfaction." However, some "prominent Australia players have expressed reservations over the use of technology." Australian captain Michael Clarke said, "The referral system -- where captains have two unsuccessful referrals at their disposal -- can distort the process. I don’t like the tactics involved, where umpires and the teams know how many referrals are left, and change their decisions accordingly." Even if RTS is "not used, some modifications to DRS will be seen in Brisbane." Each side will get two reviews after 80 overs of an "innings even if they have earlier lost one or both of their initial allowance of two incorrect challenges." Host broadcaster Channel Nine has announced that it will "persist with Hot Spot." RTS is a new aid for "determining whether a batsman has hit the ball." It enables results from a “snickometer,” an audio device near the stumps, to be "aligned with pictures of an incident within 10 seconds" (SUNDAY TIMES, 11/17).
A last-minute dispute “placed the new posting system for Japanese players in jeopardy” as small-market teams in Major League Baseball "tried to put into effect a rule that would inhibit big-market teams, particularly the Yankees, from spending large sums on prospective Japanese stars," according to David Waldstein of the N.Y. TIMES. A new deal is “still expected to emerge in time for teams to make posting offers" on players, including pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, this offseason. If it does not, Japanese teams “could allow their players to negotiate with specific teams they choose and then receive some kind of compensation from the major league team, perhaps in the form of a joint cooperation agreement.” Sources said that Pirates President Frank Coonelly this week at the GM meetings in Orlando “proposed that the posting fee, which can exceed $50 million for a top player, should count against the bidding team’s luxury-tax figure.” Waldstein noted the proposal “seemed to be aimed directly at the Yankees, who are planning to bid for Tanaka but are also concerned about staying under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold.” Yankees President Randy Levine “objected to Coonelly’s proposal and asked rhetorically if other rules for international player procurement -- like the way Cuban stars have been signed -- should be changed midstream as well” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/15).