The FIA entered a tendering phase in 2021 to decide who will be the F1 tyre supplier from 2025-27. For the first time since taking over the duties in 2010, Pirelli are being challenged by former F1 tyre supplier Bridgestone.
The Japanese manufacturer previously supplied Formula One but became disenfranchised with the FIA’s continual demands and announced to their withdrawal from th esport late in 2009.
Pirelli mixed time in F1
Pirelli at short notice took up the challenge and have been F1’s official tyre supplier for fourteen years, though it has not been without controversy.
Having been tasked by the FIA with designing tyres that would degrade to create interesting strategic racing decisions, Pirelli pushed the envelope too far with their now infamous ‘exploding tyres’ during the 2013 season.
At the time Pirelli’s global marketing slogan was “Take the F1 performance to your car,” but they risked turning motorists off as head lines were emblazoned across the world claiming “terror tyres” after the British Grand Prix.
This was the first time in the season the tyres had failed in spectacular fashion although the drivers had been complaining before that they we’re having to cut their speed to prevent the rubber wearing out after just a few laps.
Bridgestone ware of FIA tyre brief
Since then Pirelli have on the whole delivered on there FIA’s specification of creating tyres that degrade to encourage the teams to consider more pit stops and improve the racing show.
Bridgestone who have entered the tendering process understand the FIA brief, but claimed as early as May this year they would not bow down to the specification if the result damaging to their global road car brand.
The FIA were to declare their decision on the 2025 tyre supplier in June, but as with all things FIA the rarely land on time.
In the meantime Pirelli have been forging ahead to assist with the FIA’s 2030 carbon zero target by attempting to produce F1 tyres for next season which do not require pre-heating as they do at present.
Pirelli ‘net zero’ F1 tyres rejected
Despite several tests this season with the proposed tyres, the teams decided at the F1 commission in Belgium that the new Pirelli construction was not up to standard and would therefor not be adopted for 2024.
The current extreme wet Pirelli can be used without pre-heating but the Italian tyre manufacturer now needs to do more work before F1 adopts their proposed drug weather rubber.
The rejection of Pirelli’s proposed 2024 tyre has left the manufacturer scrambling to deliver a range of tyres capable of dealing with the increased downforce of the 2024 cars.
To this end their testing schedule has been hastily re-organised and now Alpine and Red Bull will run prototypes at a test following the Italian Grand Prix in Monza.
Pirelli hurried test reschedule to deliver 2024 tyres
So the race is on to produce a tyre for 2024 which the FIA can approve by the beginning of December.
“We know the cars have continuous development,” said Pirelli chief engineer Simone Berra when asked about the testing by Motorsport.com.
“It’s important to continuously improve the reliability and the fatigue resistance of the tyre, and the resistance to the standing wave, because of the loads.”
This consistent improved performance can be seen this weekend at the Dutch GP given the Friday sessions’ quickest times were around a second ahead of those posted in 2022.
Target: “Better performing tyres”
“We would also like to improve the current range of compounds, working mainly on the compounds that showed a little bit less performance than expected,” added Berra.
The teams are forced to simulate their expected downforce levels for the following season and then send them to Pirelli during the pre-summer break so the tyre manufacturer can design new tyre constructions accordingly.
“The teams uploaded the simulations at the end of June,” Berra revealed. “So we had the time, a couple of months, to process all the data, and to understand what the destination is in terms of load for next year. And we have seen some increase.
“We are continuing to include new materials, new structure, geometry. So we are working as much as possible.
Mid-season F1 tyre construction change
In an unusual turn of events, Pirelli introduced a new tyre construction mid-season this year because the downforce the current cars actually deliver is way ahead of the team’s predictions made in 2022.
This is usually banned by the FIA because a new tyre construction may favour one team over another. This is something Fernando Alonso has suggested for the reason Aston Martin has fallen away from its early season mid-field dominance.
It appears the new construction introduced at Silverstone will be usable in the 2024 Pirelli rubber.
Bridgestone only an outside chance
“Obviously, there is a limit at some point, and you have to change philosophy, but for the moment we have seen good results working on the current structure, and improving with different new solutions,” said Berra.
“We are working on the sidewalls, we are working on the bead areas, we are working together with our R&D team to improve as much as possible the structure.”
It is almost certain that the FIA will announce Pirelli as the supplier of Formula One rubber from 2025-27 given the time frame for Bridgestone to get up to speed looks tight and the sport’s governing body will be wary of the Japanese companies threats to ignore the degrading tyre brief.
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