Time for a new tire supplier in F1?

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This weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix had eyebrows raised when Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had flat tires during Friday’s free practice session. Teams were gnashing teeth and ripping robes over the thought of another Silverstone debacle in which the tires were delaminating off their carcasses.

As such, Pirelli sent a forensics team to a suspect corner, found a piece of metal on the track and said it was the same shape as the holes in both driver’s tires…deduction? A cut tire, not a delaminating tire. Sunday’s race may prove otherwise but I suspect not.

As for Pirelli, they have agreements with the teams and Formula One Management (FOM) to supply tires for them in 2014 but they are missing a crucial signature and contract. That would be the FIA or governing body of F1. Pirelli boss Paul Hembery doesn’t understand why but rumors suggest that Michelin may be throwing their hat in the ring for a tender offer that the FIA says must be completed for the 2014 season.

Hembery doesn’t quite like the ida telling the press:

“Quite frankly a tender in September when you are running in January would be farcical,” he said. “You should have done that in September last year.

“Everybody would look ridiculous in that scenario.”

Could Michelin be muddying waters for Pirelli’s individual contracts they claim to have with the teams? Presumably the contracts have opt-out clauses that protect teams if the FIA should choose another supplier.

Pirelli have taken a lot of heat for their high degradation tire this year as construction issues caused a delamination of the tire and a safety issue for teams and drivers. Pirelli have absolved themselves from much of the situation and to be honest, the series asked for this type of tire to begin with.

We’ve been big apologists for Pirelli this year but at some level we feel they went a bridge too far and were trying to be too much a part of the battle on track by attempting to stump-the-chump and keep the engineers off their game. We felt they would have been better off simply making a tire that last half of a race and leave it at that since it is antithetical to what they really do which is make good tires.

What do you think? Are the FIA playing games and leaning toward a French company instead of Pirelli? Don’t ask me because I would like to see multiple tire suppliers back in the series. GIVE PICASSO THE PAINT!

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