Should Pirelli choose not to continue on in Formula One after the end of this season, Korean company Hankook will not be there to replace them. Hankook has tire supply contracts with multiple categories around the world, but according to an article from Autosport’s Jamie O’Leary and Edd Straw, the company is worried about uncertainty over long-term rules and a lack of testing opportunities in F1 that could keep it from properly developing Grand Prix tires.
“Even if we started this year with the first tire test, it would take easily three years until you can finish a safe and performing F1 tyre,” Michael Eckert, Hankook’s competition engineer in the DTM touring car series, told Autosport. “Now the regulations are changing; engine formula, chassis, and aerodynamics…Nobody even knows about the dimensions of the tyres for 2014 – they are still not fixed.”
Pirelli recently indicated they could walk away from the F1 landscape at season’s end, and this week, they issued a statement that denied favoritism toward Mercedes after the team carried out a secret tire test following the Spanish Grand Prix.
Going back to Hankook, Eckert maintained that his group remains interested in Formula One, but said that “it’s not obligatory” that they eventually get to that level.
“From an engineering point of view, F1 is the greatest challenge, but from a financial point of view, it is a huge investment,” he said. “You have to be ready with all aspects of your company, not only with the tyre itself but the infrastructure regarding the logistics.
“Certainly we will follow up on it and we are interested in new opportunities from a business point of view and also, from a branding point of view, to go into new markets.”
Hankook has signed a new deal with DTM to supply tires for that series through at least 2016.