Pirelli pledges F1 backing but not keen on stake

Pirelli tyres on display in the paddock area at the Russian Grand Prix.
Pirelli tyres on display in the paddock area at the Russian Grand Prix. PHOTO: REUTERS

MONACO • Pirelli is committed to Formula One but has no plans to take a stake in the sport after Liberty Media's takeover, the tyre company's chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera said yesterday.

The Milan-based company has a three-year deal, negotiated with Formula One's former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the governing FIA (International Automobile Federation), to be the sole supplier until the end of 2019.

Speaking at the Monaco Grand Prix, Tronchetti Provera said a decision on Pirelli's involvement beyond that would have to be made in 11/2 years.

"But I don't see any issue," he said. "We are committed, we see Formula One remaining the most attractive racing in the world and Pirelli is the largest supplier of motor sport globally."

He added that this season's longer-lasting compounds and wider tyres were "quite balanced" but Pirelli was "obviously working to improve them".

United States-based Liberty Media completed its takeover in January and is looking at ways to improve the show and make the racing more competitive.

The 10 F1 teams have also been invited to take a stake in the sport, with Liberty reserving US$400 million (S$552.3 million) of shares for them should they wish to take up the offer.

There has been no confirmation of any of them doing so and Tronchetti Provera indicated Pirelli had no interest either.

"No one offered to us and we didn't ask," he said. "We are part of F1, it is not a financial investment. It's a marketing and technological investment so we don't see any need to enter the capital."

Tronchetti Provera also acknowledged that he and the 86-year-old Ecclestone, who ruled the sport for decades, had a "special relationship" that would continue but business was business.

He said: "We stay in Formula One if the quality stays high and the willingness of Liberty is to keep it high, even higher."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'Pirelli pledges F1 backing but not keen on stake'. Print Edition | Subscribe