South Korean tire manufacturer Hankook has entered the frame as Formula 1’s potential successor for Pirelli. In 2013, the South Korean tyre marque had “several meetings” with former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
While discussions fell flat, sources claim that Hankook is once again in the frame to succeed Pirelli.
Pirelli’s current contract expire at the end of the 2019 season. Rumour has it that F1 intends to switch from 13 to 18 inch wheels for 2020 or 2021.
The FIA is currently entertaining interested parties for the F1 tyre contract. The contract is expected to run from 2020 to the end of 2022.
Hankook is familiar with the motor racing world, having supplied tyres in the DTM and Formula 3 categories.
Back in 2014, the lack of testing opportunities was probably the reason behind their reluctance.
“For 2014, it’s completely impossible not only because of the lack of tyre development time. Even if Hankook wants to take three, four, five years to jump into Formula 1 as a supplier, the lack of testing opportunities would make it impossible.
“With the current cars and drivers, it’s impossible [to test] so you need to find a suitable number of vehicles and drivers that would allow you to get some reliable feedback.”
DTM competition engineer Michael Eckert confirmed that Hankook was keen to continue the expansion of its motorsport portfolio.
F1 will remain an option, although no decision has been in the sport’s favour.
“It’s not obligatory that F1 has to be the final destination series,” he said.
“From an engineering point of view, F1 is the greatest challenge, but from a financial point of view it is a huge investment.
“You have to be ready with all aspects of your company, not only with the tyre itself but the infrastructure regarding the logistics.
“Currently, all the Hankook tyre production is in Korea and it would be a big help to have a European base like Pirelli does with Turkey.
“We are not ready to jump into Formula 1 for 2014, it’s not our goal short-term.
“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.”