Formula one teams are braced for the “curveball” of an all-new tyre supplier for 2014.
That was the admission on Wednesday of McLaren‘s managing director Jonathan Neale, even though he said the British team is “assuming” Pirelli will get an eleventh-hour extension to its contract.
But he admitted 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 chose that to be.”
It has been rumoured that, should the Jean Todt-led FIA launch a surprise tender process for 2014, Michelin might enter the race to return to the grid.
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.”
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 that we are 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.