It’s been a bit late in coming but Pirelli and the FIA have agreed to terms to an extension of their sole-supplier contract through 2016. This means that Pirelli will be the tire supplier and continue in its development for Formula 1.
It’s an interesting announcement as there were some political hurdles to jump. Mainly, Pirelli have publicly stated that they have had agreements with the teams individually to supply them with tires moving forward. The FIA had a few public quips that seemed as if they were slightly miffed that they were left out of the process.
To that point, you’ll recall, the FIA even hinted at a possible new tender offering to seek a tire supplier contract leaving many to speculate that Michelin might come back into F1. This was pure speculation but Michelin had even commented on the possibility at the time.
Given that Pirelli has now agreed—formally—with the FIA, it seems that the way forward has been cast and those political hurdles have been jumped. My hunch would be that the FIA wanted to hold the paper in this deal and get their percentage of the deal while claiming that as a regulatory body, they should be the decision maker of which tires are used in F1 and not the teams. To be honest, I’m not sure I disagree with them on that front. Here is Pirelli’s official statement:
Milano, January 16, 2014 – Following a decision by the World Motor Sport Council confirming Pirelli’s status as the single supplier of tyres to the FIA Formula One World Championship, Pirelli and the FIA have renewed their Formula One tyre supply contract. The duration of the agreement is for three years, starting from the 2014 season.
The world motorsport’s governing body and Pirelli, in collaboration with the teams, have been working together to improve levels of safety and performance in Formula One, resulting in important changes to the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations regarding the testing of tyres, which will enable the Italian company to continue its Formula One single supply arrangements, in the best interests of the sport.
These new rules, mandatory from the 2014 season onwards, can be summarised as follows:
1) One of the 12 days of official pre-season testing, as prescribed in the 2014 Sporting Regulations, will be dedicated exclusively to wet tyre testing.
2) Each team will dedicate one of their eight days of in-season testing, as prescribed in the 2014 Sporting Regulations, exclusively to tyre testing. This means that during each of the eight days of in-season testing, at least one team – and up to a maximum of two – will be concentrating on tyre testing along with Pirelli’s engineers.
Pirelli will continue to determine the specification of the tyres and to manage all aspects of their development, in close consultation with the FIA and the teams, and within the parameters set out in the FIA Formula One Sporting & Technical Regulations.
In addition, Pirelli and the FIA have agreed to discuss how to go about establishing a possible partnership on the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign.