Pirelli and Michelin to bid for F1 tyresupply deal
Formula 1’s governing body has opened an ofcial 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 difcult 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.