2014 F1 season too soon for Hankook
While Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli has sought an end to some of the teams’ gripes about its current P Zero tyre specifications, the question of whether it will remain in the series after the expiration of its current contract remains in doubt. A similar list of names to that previously generated in mid-2010 has been circulated, when Bridgestone announced its withdrawal from the series. However, for at least one major player it appears the lack of development time and uncertainty about rule changes in the short to medium term mean that 2014 is too soon to enter the world’s most high-profile motorsport series.
Hankook currently supplies tyres to DTM – Germany’s touring car series – and the Formula Three European Championship, and while it has confirmed its long-term interest in F1, Hankook’s DTM competition engineer told Autosport magazine that it is too late to develop tyres for 2014. Michael Eckert also cited problems in getting testing feedback from current F1 teams – an issue even Pirelli has struggled to combat, given the ongoing controversy surrounding the Mercedes team’s role in the recent 1,000km Barcelona test.
Eckert also told Autosport that uncertainty about F1’s 2014 regulations – right down to the dimensions of the tyres – in addition to the “huge” financial commitment make it difficult to contemplate signing up, despite the marketing incentives and engineering challenges it offers. He made the point that Hankook, which has expanded its motorsport portfolio in recent years, does not necessarily see F1 as a “final destination series”.
Speculation about a potential successor to Pirelli was exacerbated somewhat by Michelin, when its @MichelinTyres Twitter feed retweeted a Facebook poll started by the user @MercAMGF1Fans:
RT @mercamgf1fans: @michelintyres we’ve created a poll.. let’s see if the f1 fans agree.shrd.by/G0PQaF
— Michelin (@MichelinTyres) May 28, 2013
While Michelin went on to say that a comeback was possible – without missing the opportunity to make its evergreen point about tyre brand competition – the company concluded that it “would be up to our management and motorsport department and F1’s bosses to agree on the regulations first”.
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