Should Pirelli stay or go?

As we get closer to the award of the tire supplier contract for Formula 1, Pirelli has been relatively vocal of late buttressing their financial and engineering investment in the series. They’ve been delightfully happy with their investment in F1 without sounding slightly pleased. It’s all in the way you spin the machine and who wants to sound like they’re wetting themselves over the opportunity when a new contract negotiation is due? Especially when the crafty veteran, Mr. Ecclestone, is involved?

No, Pirelli have had their share of slight backhanded commentaries on F1 over the years but also offered the notion…hey, if it wasn’t great for us, we wouldn’t do it…type of qualifier. Fair enough, I don’t think I would say much more than that really.

Now we come to the end of the road and Pirelli are starting to sound a little more desperate of late. Even sharing general investment ranges with fans as Paul Hembery said:

“It was a big decision for us, it’s very expensive.

“You have to bear in mind we are a sponsor as well as a technical supplier, and our overall costs are far greater than a normal sponsor.

“It would be far better for us to just go and do some trackside advertising and sip a bottle of champagne every weekend. That would cost probably a third of what it costs now.

“That’s the problem ­ people don’t understand our net costs of being present.

“We don’t get anything from the commercial rights holder, so our net cost is greater than [everyone] except the engine manufacturers.

“You could certainly run an F1 team on our budget.”

Sure, they are at least spending $50-100 million on their program given the cost to run a back marker team. They were a sponsor and now a supplier so their investment is more and that must account for something right? At least that seems to be the point here.

It amounts to something for me, Mr. Hembery, because I have Pirelli’s on my cars. Whether it amounts to something for Mr. Ecclestone or not, well I humbly submit that it boils down to the highest bidder with the most innovative and lucrative approach for F1. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in a $4 million regulatory fee to grease the FIA for the hassle of controlling your tire spec and their assistance in, you know…whatever.

It seems to me that Pirelli would be the most favored supplier because Michelin says they will only play if the FIA and F1 allow for some changes such as bigger tires and wheels such as 18″ rims. They want durable tires instead of high degradation tires and F1 looks to be intent on keeping this construct around. At least that is what Mr. E has said lately.

So how has Pirelli done? Do you feel it is time to change tire suppliers and specifications? Keep in mind that Pirelli could match any change in spec so it comes down to if Pirelli have been a lucrative partner for F1 and vice versa. Or would you rather see Michelin have a shot at the supply contract?

Stick with the evil you know or go all crazy and bring in a new tire provider? What’s your choice?


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It’s all about the ROI, and I have to think what Pirelli is really getting out of the deal. Are people buying more tyres solely because they’re shodding the Formula 1 grid? I think it is time for some tyre competition, but in a way that affords manufacturers an economy of scale. So forgive the long comment, but here’s some of my thoughts on this topic that have been brewing for a while now. Let’s look at the problem. Tyre manufacturers in a wide variety of series try to secure exclusive contracts as sole providers so that they’ll have a… Read more »

Negative Camber

I think there are certainly economies of scale if there could be a spec that suited several forms of motor sport. I recall the FIA wanting to make a standard engine spec that could be developed in each series but the base would be the same. Max championed that thought. There is also the thought of not just having Pirelli and Michelin in the series but having teams come with differing companies such as Pirelli, Michelin, Toyo, Goodyear, bridgestone etc. When there were only two, they favored the top teams they supplied but if there were 5 makes, maybe that… Read more »


I don’t think it needs to be fully spec, just a spec rim diameter and width. Let each manufacturer develop what ever compound, or range of compounds, they desire.

Paul KieferJr

If it’s an economy of scale, then I’ll renew my call for more teams on the grid (which is another subject altogether). That alone would allow different tire companies to try their luck.


I never liked the 70s-style balloon tires with ridiculously tiny trolley wheels. Forcing pit stops in a sprint race is laughable when you see LMP cars doing 4 stints on one set. And it hurts even more to see the LMPs pushing like hell all the way, while F1 drivers are constantly anxious about destroying their tires if they go a little bit too fast.

Leaving aside personal preferences about the tires, it’s still an outrage that the regulatory body leaves the decision about the tire format to the commercial rights holder. Led by an octogenarian.

Rupert Chandler

what we want is a nice big tyre war!! remember the last one.. it was great!!


I don’t recall the ‘great tyre war’, was that ‘the tyre war to end all tyre wars’, ‘the second tyre war’, ‘the war against tyre-oor’ ?
I don’t think tyre wars have lead to sustained close competition in the championship, most times there have been more than one tyre supplier, one or other has been dominant, and you know how much fun it is when one set of teams are massively advantaged over the rest, as great as 2014 and 2015………

Check this link out to see how infrequently tyre wars result in ballanced outcomes

Negative Camber

It was more of a coup or junta than a war but you know how words can get.


Having one or two manufacturers will not work, or at least it hasn’t worked in the past. If they were tasked with building a tire vastly different than what we currently (more road relevant without HD and on realistically sized rimes) on an existing platform (so it will be out dated buy the time the new season rolls around), then maybe it would work. Teams would then be tasked with building a car to suit the rims and tires (new suspension configuration because of the sidewall differences at least) and not one would have the ultimate advantage because the time… Read more »


In earlier times when F1 had a single tyre supplier, they were only mentioned in connection with a failure (blowout, blistering or puncture). Pirelli have changed that, and they are now mentioned every race in a more positive light. So from a marketing point of view, their involvement in F1 has been more successful than previous sole supplier arrangements.


I remember when Bridgestone designed their tires for Schumi and Ferrari, so they didn’t work that well on any other car,