Just when in looked like it was going to be a two car race, a third contender has officially entered the race to supply tyres for Formula One from next season.
After days of speculation, Pirelli have confirmed they are going to present an offer in the hope of becoming the next official tyres supplier for the sport.
Michelin and Avon are already revving up on the starting line and like Michelin, Pirelli are insisting certain conditions would have to be met in order for them to supply the tyres.
It is exciting news for the racing world, but judging from their statement of intent, it will further delay a decision being reached on a new tyres supplier.
The Italian tyre manufacturer announced in a brief statement: “Pirelli announces that it will present an offer for the supply of tyres to all the teams in the F1 championship. The presentation of the offer will take place before the next Grand Prix in Spain on May 9.”
When pushed for additional information, a spokeswoman for the Italian manufacturer said the offer was for next season but said no further details could be disclosed.
Last week, the Italian media revealed Pirelli’s interest in returning to the sport – having withdrawn in 1991 – but claimed that certain conditions would need to be met. It is understood that these would include increasing the size of tyres to 18 inches (from 13) and for teams to contribute financially.
Michelin admits that it too would be seeking to increase the wheel diameter to 18 inches, a move which would see larger wheels with lower profile tyres which would change the handling and suspension characteristics of the cars dramatically. Such a move would not be popular with the teams who would be forced to significantly redesign their suspension layouts.
Meanwhile, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is said to be in favour of Avon who would supply a cheaper non-branded tyre which would also conform with the current wheel and tyre diameters.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team