F1 teams braced for Pirelli axe and switch to new tyre supplier for 2014

End of the line for Pirelli in F1?

End of the line for Pirelli in F1?

Formula 1 teams are braced for the shock of an all-new tyre supplier for the 2014 F1 World Championship season.

That was the admission on Wednesday of McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale, even though he said the British team is “assuming” that Pirelli will get an eleventh-hour extension to its contract.

He did, however, admit that assumption actually has little foundation.

“If we were to get a late change from somebody else coming into the sport at short notice,” Neale told a Vodafone teleconference, “of course we would work around that and work with whoever the FIA [choose].”

It has been rumoured that, should the Jean Todt-led FIA launch a surprise tender process for 2014, Michelin might enter the rush to return to the grid.

Pirelli F1 tyre technicians at work

Pirelli F1 tyre technicians at work

Neale admitted that, with the 2014 cars being designed around the basic data of the Pirelli tyre, a last-minute change of supplier would be a spanner in the works.

“But it would be the same for everybody,” he added. “So if somebody throws in a curveball at the last minute we’ll all have to recover but there’ll be some winners and losers in that.”

Meanwhile, Neale applauded Pirelli’s reaction to the tyre-exploding crisis of the British Grand Prix, but said there is some concern about this weekend’s high-speed circuit at Spa-Francorchamps.

Pirelli is supplying the hardest tyres in its range to teams in Belgium.

“I think for this weekend all the teams will be reasonably alert [because] we … high-load at Spa,” said Neale.

“Pirelli are being rightly cautious about making sure that the teams operate within certain restrictive windows on tyre pressures and cambers etc and we’re supportive of that process,” he added.

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