Pirelli and Miche­lin to bid for F1 tyre­sup­ply deal

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

For­mula 1’s gov­ern­ing body has opened an ofcial ten­der process to de­cide which com­pany will sup­ply tyres to the sport from 2017.

Pirelli, who have been in F1 since 2011, will bid to stay on, with Miche­lin – who are highly re­garded within the sport – also likely to be in­vited to ten­der, af­ter ex­press­ing an in­ter­est.

The choice will come down to two key el­e­ments: money, with Pirelli cur­rently pay­ing £25.8m a year for track­side advertising; and a philo­soph­i­cal de­ci­sion about the di­rec­tion in which F1’s bosses feel the sport should go.

Com­mer­cial rights holder Bernie Ec­cle­stone has pri­vately told teams he ex­pects Pirelli to be given the nod, partly be­cause of the money they pay and partly be­cause he likes the high-degra­da­tion tyres the Ital­ian com­pany pro­duces.

Ec­cle­stone has al­ways in­sisted that Pirelli have de­signed the tyres in this way at his re­quest. But when he sug­gested this to a meet­ing of tech­ni­cal di­rec­tors re­cently, they col­lec­tively ex­pressed their belief that it was the best Pirelli could do. Pirelli in­sists that is not the case.

The rm’s chair­man, Marco Tronchetti Provera, said: “Tech­no­log­i­cally speak­ing the eas­i­est so­lu­tion is to do tyres that last for ten races a sea­son. What is difcult is to do it as we do to­day, pro­vid­ing dif­fer­ent tyres last­ing safely 10, 15, 30 laps. That is a good chal­lenge.”

Ec­cle­stone said of Miche­lin: “All they would do is make a rock-hard tyre you could put on in Jan­uary and take off in De­cem­ber be­cause they don’t want to be in a po­si­tion where they can be crit­i­cised. It would be all the things we don’t want, and goes against all the things Pirelli have had the courage to do from what we have asked, which has made for some bloody good rac­ing.”

Miche­lin’s head of com­pe­ti­tion Pas­cal Couas­non ques­tioned this idea, sug­gest­ing more pre­dictable tyres that let driv­ers push would be bet­ter for F1. He said: “Tyres must be­come a tech­ni­cal ob­ject, not just a tool to do a more-or-less spec­tac­u­lar show. Tyres should of­fer sta­ble per­for­mance and grip. It’s not nor­mal that af­ter a few laps a driver says ‘I need to slow down or the tyres won’t last.’ These days F1 driv­ers can’t show their tal­ent be­cause the tyres don’t al­low it.”

De­spite Ec­cle­stone’s op­po­si­tion, other se­nior gures are start­ing to see the logic of more durable tyres. Miche­lin also wanted to sup­ply 18-inch tyres – up from 13 inches – but it has been re­ported that larger tyres were ve­toed by teams at the Cana­dian GP week­end.

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