Italian tire maker Pirelli has submitted a bid to be the sole Formula 1 tire supplier at least until 2013, when other makers could come in and the cars make the switch to 18-inch tires, Autosport is reporting.
Sounds sort of like the have your cake and eat it, too, scenario.
According to Autosport, Pirelli has had talks with all the teams, but wants to be the one supplier in coming few seasons in order to keep down costs.
In contrast, Michelin, which with Cooper Avon round out the three leading candidates to replace the departing Bridgestone, is saying it would welcome a “tire war.”
Pirelli is claiming the desire to be alone is a matter of economics:
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola told AUTOSPORT in the Barcelona paddock: “We prefer to be a sole supplier. The time is very short and so we prefer to be in the same situation that they are now.”
AUTOSPORT understands that Pirelli would be willing to open up the prospect of a tyre war from 2013, which would give its engineers and teams a two-year transition period to make the move to the much talked-about 18-inch tyres.
By contrast, Michelin leaders said today they only want back in the sport if there is competition:
“We’re in talks with the (International Automobile) Federation and the other bodies that run Formula One and we told them that if several brands were allowed in the sport then Michelin… would be ready to think about it,” [managing partner Didier] Mariton told a shareholders meeting.
Michelin also wants the sport to emphasize more on environment topics before making any decision, he added.
The other big issue is the size of the tires. Both Michelin and Pirelli understand, again for economic and development reasons, why F1 teams want to stick with the current tire size. But, as for the future? Well, that’s a different matter:
“It is an option,” explained Isola. “I know the teams would prefer to stay on 13-inch tyres, at least in order to have a period to be able to develop the car to the 18-inch tyre. It is a big change and I can imagine they would have to work a lot on the mechanical aspects of the car.
“The 18-inch tyre is much more interesting for us because it is very close to a road tyre, compared to the 13-inch tyre which nobody uses at the moment. The smallest cars have 14 or 15-inches, so it is quite a different tyre from what we see usually.
“But it is also true that it will be a different tyre – you cannot imagine that there will be an F1 tyre that is close to a road tyre. We will collect all the requirements from the teams in order to have a clear picture to start development, if we are successful and get a contract.”
I don’t know, I for one think my MINI would rock that much more with some F1-spec tires on it… although I guess I’d have to move up a speck as I currently run 17-inch wheels. But I know 18-inch would fit.
I can see me and Tamara Ecclestone cruising on Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu already…*
So. F1Bers. Any choices out there on which manufacturer F1 should go with, now that the table seems more clearly set? Tire war, or not to tire war? Eventual 18-inch wheels?
It’s all on the table.
* Note: The idea of my MINI with F1-spec tires and my being with Ms. E are equally preposterous, thus the imagining.