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Motorsport | Formula 1

Paul Hembery © Gallo Images

Pirelli doesn't rule out modifications

Tyre makers Pirelli don't rule out modifying their controversial rubbers once Formula One reaches Europe next month for the Spanish Grand Prix.

But first of all the 22 drivers and their teams must make do with what they have on Sunday at the Bahrain race.

Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery told dpa in an e-mail interview that complaints about tyres are not new and that any modifications for Barcelona are part of a routine procedure, and not bowing to pressure.

"In 2011 we made some changes to our compounds, last year we did not. The decision whether or not we will make changes to our current compounds will be announced after Bahrain and would then be applied from Barcelona onwards. The changes would not be structural but minor changes to the compounds," he said.

The first three races in 2013 have seen complaints and fears that races are now only decided by the rubbers and how well they are conserved.

"Perfection is a remote ideal in this sport, given the tendency for tyre management to determine races this year. The drivers required not so much a racing brain as an advanced chemistry degree," British paper Daily Telegraph said after Sunday's Chinese GP.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) said that while the first three races have seen as many winners, and several leaders at each race, that doesn't mean a rise in excitement.

"Instead of going to the limit in each lap everyone is just rolling along according to tyre strategy," the SZ said.

World champion Sebastian Vettel was the biggest critic Sunday as Swiss paper Tages-Anzeiger suggested that "Red Bull's car is too fast for the tyres" and others warned that Formula One fans did not attend races to watch pit stops.

But Hembery remained relaxed and said teams simply have to get used to the slightly softer 2013 rubbers and dismissed Vettel's complaint that the tyres were now dictating the race.

"A driver will always drive to the limits of the package. Tyres can be a limiting factor, but in the past it might have been the brakes or engine life or fuel level. Tyre management has always been an integral part of motor racing, that has not changed," he said.

"The bottom line is that the tyres don't make Formula One a lottery, and one thing is for sure: at the end of the season, the drivers at the front will be the best ones."

He also said that Pirelli has not been approached by any team over the issue.

"There has not been one team so far this year that has come to us directly to ask us to change the tyres. Quite on the contrary actually. A lot of the team principals and engineers have told us expressively not to change anything," Hembery said.

Hembery said that the 2013 rubbers needed to be softer because they were required to make tyres that forced teams to several pit stops per race for added excitement.

"At the end of last season, most races just had one pit stop and it is our brief to make sure there are two to three pit stops per car. So we modified the compounds to become softer for this year," he said.

Hembery added his hope that Pirelli can renew their contract as exclusive tyre provider beyond this season and that an agreement was needed swiftly because the company and the teams have to prepare for a 2014 season with major rule changes.

"The contract negotiations are completely separate from anything that goes on during a race weekend. However, as it stands there still is no tyre contract in place for 2014;" Hembery said.

"With the substantial technical changes coming for next year, Pirelli and also the teams themselves would need to know sooner rather than later whether we continue in Formula One next year.

We have always said that we would like to be in F1 at least for the medium term, as long as it makes sense for us from a financial point of view."


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