SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - ChemChina’s takeover of Pirelli will not affect the Italian tiremaker’s involvement in Formula One, Pirelli motorsport head Paul Hembery said on Saturday.
“It is very much business as normal,” he told reporters at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
“Motorsport for Pirelli remains a key aspect of our positioning in the premium prestige market segments. We are involved in over 250 championships this year in 54 countries and F1 is the pinnacle of all of that activity,” he added.
“Our view is that nothing changes and we see Formula One as a medium to long-term involvement and we will be very happy to continue in the sport.”
ChemChina agreed last Sunday to become the majority owner of the world’s fifth-largest tire maker as part of a multi-layered 7.3 billion-euro ($8 billion) deal, putting one of Italy’s oldest household names in Chinese hands.
Pirelli have said the headquarters and technology base of Pirelli will remain in Italy with the company retaining its current management.
“It’s very much going to remain the same strategy as ever and an Italy-based business,” said Hembery.
Pirelli are Formula One’s sole tire supplier and have a contract to the end of 2016, with the tender process for 2017 due to open this year.
Hembery said Pirelli wanted to continue but the company needed to know more about where the sport was heading, with talk of switching to bigger tires, more powerful engines and bodywork revisions.
“We need to understand what the sport is going to look like in 2017 because at the moment discussions are ongoing, so if you sign up to such an important contract you have to have an idea of what you are going into,” he said.
”It’s a business decision and we are not here for fun.
“We would like to continue, everything can be improved but Formula One still has a unique platform in motorsport... sometimes people underestimate how big it actually is.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin