Bernie Ecclestone has backed demands from drivers for Pirelli to produce higher performing tyres for Formula One by 2017.
Ecclestone told the BBC he agreed "a million per cent" with drivers who have complained in recent years that they cannot push flat out during races. Since Pirelli returned to the sport in 2011 it has been tasked with producing tyres that degrade during a race in order to encourage overtaking and ensure two or three pit stops per race. But Ecclestone's most recent comments could see a change in approach for 2017 when chassis regulations also due to be overhauled in order to reduce lap times.
Ecclestone said a meeting had been planned for February 2 to allow teams and drivers to meet with Pirelli and work together to find a solution.
"The bottom line is Pirelli supply the tyres in F1, they are the tyres we should use and the teams and drivers should work with Pirelli to perfect the tyres," Ecclestone said. "Whatever drivers want to turn up can turn up. Whatever teams want to turn up can turn up. It will be the president of Pirelli who is there, not a messenger."
The call for change follows comments from the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA), Alex Wurz, who said the majority of F1 drivers want higher performing tyres.
"The drivers want to underline very clearly that they would love Pirelli to produce a tyre which goes faster around corners as well as being safe," Wurz said. "If we get sticky tyres, we will have happy drivers, and happy drivers means authentic and honest performance, pure message for the product and driving the cars to the maximum."
Pirelli has always said it will deliver the tyres the sport wants and is willing to adapt if it is given the time and testing to do so. When the Italian manufacturer returned to the sport in 2011 it was asked to replicate the thrilling 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, which saw drivers struggling to look after the usually resilient Bridgestone tyres. A return to tyres that offer "flat out" racing would likely see fewer pit stops and less variation between the performance of cars, but would allow drivers to extract the full potential of their cars lap after lap.
One of the biggest problems facing Pirelli for 2017 is whether it will be able to test this year using a car that produces a representative level of downforce. Plans to reduce lap times by five seconds a lap next year are likely to be curbed slightly, but F1 is still targeting significantly faster cars that will put increased loads through the tyres.
In order to design wider tyres for the new generation of cars, the FIA has granted Pirelli up to six two-day tests "for the sole purpose of providing the tyre supplier the chance to test improvements to the design of their tyres". Yet it is not yet clear which car or cars Pirelli will be allowed to test with and whether it can accurately simulate the loads expected from the fully-developed 2017 cars. Ecclestone said it is crucial the top teams and drivers work with Pirelli to develop a suitable tyre for 2017.
"I want someone who can drive on the limit who can come back with an answer," Ecclestone said. "Pirelli agree with me 100%. That's what they have asked for -- a top team with top drivers, not a team that can't push to the limit and certainly not a driver who can't."