The contest to see who is going to replace Bridgestone as the tyres supplier to Formula 1 at the start of the next season is shaping up to be very interesting.
Pirelli is the latest tyres manufacturer to announce it is a late entry into the field, alongside Michelin and, most recently, Cooper Avon.
The Italian company has been given the green light to evaluate a return to Grand Prix racing after bosses held an investors’ meeting in Milan earlier this week and approved a proper study into the benefits of getting Pirelli back into F1 for the first time since 1991.
Paul Hembury, Pirelli’s director of motorsport, said its stance has been prompted by the fact that F1 could switch to 18-inch rims, and that teams are now ready to accept proper commercial terms for an F1 tyre supplier.
He told AUTOSPORT: “Nothing is concrete yet, but we understand that with the possibility of 18-inch tyres, and the fact that the commercial reality has changed compared to the previous environment, then F1 is something that we are now looking into.
“We are always in contract, and remain in contact, with the FIA and the F1 promoter – and that is something that continues year on year. We’ve been aware of the ongoing situation in F1 and that is really what has led to our latest situation.”
Although Michelin has made it clear that it is most interested in a return to F1 if it faces a tyre war, Hembery says Pirelli would prefer to become a standard supplier.
“We wouldn’t rule out a tyre war at this moment, but at this current time I don’t think there is a huge appetite to spend large sums of money developing tyres to go faster,” he said. “Of course these things go in waves and at some point that may be the correct approach, but at the moment teams are more interested in bringing costs down.”
So, keep watching this space for the latest updates.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team