Fernando Alonso last week argued the case for more than one tyre manufacturer in Formula One.
“Of course tyre competition will help Formula One just because everyone will push to the limits. I only experienced competition for some years with Michelin and Bridgestone and with a single tyre for Bridgestone, so that change was quite big from 2006 to 2007.
“In 2006 the tyres were amazing for both companies because they push each other to the limits of a superfast tyre that was able to do even the whole race distance in 2005 and then in 2007 with only Bridgestone the tyres were a completely different thing.
“For sure Bridgestone at that time made a step backwards and relaxed a little bit. You could still push because they had some experience and technology from the competition, so I think that would be good for F1.
Also with strategy, if you have a tyre that is good in qualifying and bad in the race and vice-a-versa. Some circuits suit some companies more than others, so you can mix a little the results and people will welcome that.”
Pirelli’s current contract with F1 runs until the end of next year, and at present there is a tendering bid for the supply of tyres to the sport, open for 2017-2019.
The misconstruction that Pirelli are averse to more than F1 tyre supplier was put to bed by Paul Hembery: “I can’t say that we don’t want it or that we do because you don’t know what parameters you’d be involved with; could you test or would it all be on simulators? How many teams have you got to supply? There are so many variables involved.”
However, the teams apparently have little appetite for a tyre war as Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost explains.
“This means that two teams will get the good tyres and the rest will just get crap, because like it was before, when Michelin was in, it was Renault and therefore Alonso has good memories and Bridgestone with Ferrari, therefore Michael was so successful – one of the reasons,
“If this comes back, it’s the same story: the two tyre manufacturers, two teams which get good tyres; three tyre manufacturers, three teams and the rest just get what the others don’t like.
“That means the complete competition would drive in a completely different direction. Then we would have, after now the power unit Formula One, we would have the tyre Formula One. Once the power units are stabilised, we open the next problem.”
Michelin are expected to lodge a bid for the 2017-19 contract, and they are on the record as favouring multiple tyre manufacturers in Formula One.
The French tyre manufacturers’ bid will be qualified, because Michelin do not want to produce the kind of degrading tyres, which Pirelli currently supply. There is no evidence to date the teams wish to pursue this approach.
What is certain is that there will be no tyre war before 2020 as Paul Hembery explains: “The tender document has come out and that says a single tyre supplier until the end of 2019. That reflects what the team wants and that’s the situation they want to maintain. We don’t have anything more to add to that, it [a tyre war] is an academic question that has no real answer because there are so many variables.
When asked whether this condition could change were Michelin to press for multiple tyre manufacturers in F1, Hembery replied: “No, it won’t change.”
Pirelli chief, Marco Tronchetti Provera is unhappy about a current proposal where the teams will select their own tyres. “The basic condition is that we retain the selection of the compounds, to prevent incorrect usage by the teams, and then (other conditions are) safety and economic issues.
“I’ve already spoken with (Bernie) Ecclestone and (Jean) Todt and there is an alignment about the technical and safety standards. After that, we will see”.
The one straightforward decision coming from the strategy group’s bug pow wow in Biggin Hill now appears in jeopardy.
Were another tyre company to come out of left field to take Pirelli’s place, the Italian tyre company are relaxed.Tronchetti Provera explains: “I am confident, but if someone has the will to out-bid us, we will focus on something else. We remain interested, but not at any cost.”
It seems everyone is happy with Pirelli – and so Pirelli will supply the F1 tyres until 2020 at the earliest.