Hankook confirmed as Pirelli’s rival for 2020 F1 tyre contract

2020 F1 season

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The FIA has approved applications from two manufacturers bidding to become the official Formula 1 tyre supplier from 2020, RaceFans can confirm.

Pirelli, which has been F1’s official tyre supplier since 2011, and rival manufacturer Hankook have been notified by the FIA their applications comply with the safety and technical requirements of the tender.

F1’s commercial rights holder, Liberty Media, will now conduct negotiations with each and notify the FIA of its final selection for official confirmation. A Formula 1 spokesperson told RaceFans: “I can confirm that we are in commercial discussions with the two prospective tyre suppliers.”

South Korean manufacturer Hankook has never previously been involved in F1. However it is already active in other branches of motorsport including as the sole supplier of tyres to the DTM and FIA European Formula Three championship.

Hankook’s motorsport division did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The chosen manufacturer will be F1’s exclusive sole supplier of tyres from 2020 to 2023. The current 13-inch wheel format will be retained for 2020, after which the sport will switch to 18-inch wheels. Tyre-warming blankets will also be outlawed when the wheel sizes change.

Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola said the targets specified in the tender are “challenging”, particularly from 2021: “18 inches, no blankets, there is a lot.”

“It is complicated because there are a lot of details in terms of not only degradation,” he said. “Degradation is the most visible, [there is a lot of] interest in the degradation.

“But there is a lot about working range there is a lot about peak of performance or stiffness characteristics of the tyres. There are a lot of details that are in the target letter.”

Michelin confirmed last month it turned down the opportunity to return to F1, saying it disagreed with aspects of the tyre tender including the temporary continuation of the 13-inch wheel format and requirement to produce high-degradation rubber.

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2018 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 66 comments on “Hankook confirmed as Pirelli’s rival for 2020 F1 tyre contract”

    1. Luke Longnecker
      21st September 2018, 7:14

      If Hankook does get the next contract, I would love Pirelli to finally produce a robust tire for its final year just to prove that it can do it.

      As it stands now, I will continue my boycott for years after it exits the sport.

      1. They would be breaking the terms of their target letter if they did.

        1. Just shows the ridiculous depths F1 has descended to in it’s efforts to ‘liven up the show’!

          Frankly any tyre manufacturer that kowtows to their demands deserves the public’s derision in equal measure.

          I for one will never again buy a Pirelli tyre, they are substandard at F1 level, so I won’t risk my family on the road.

          Stupid is as stupid doe’s

          1. The irony in your comment made me laugh out loud

          2. @antoniusrock has demonstrated why I feel so sorry for Pirelli.

            Pirelli do not make high degradation tyres because they want to, they make them because they are asked to by FOM. If they don’t as Keith says, it will be a breach of the terms upon which they were given the sole tyre supply. Hankook will be requested to do the same thing.

            As for the Pirelli wets, I ask you to consider what happens when rain falls in an f1 practice or test session. Do cars flood the track, pounding round doing endless laps giving Pirelli all sorts of data to pore over. No, they do not. The cars all sit in the garage and do a few exploratory laps which no on gains anything from.

            1. Hopefully @gt-racer will come chime in.

              Pirelli was asked to make high degradation tyres but they did an absolutely terrible job, even after so many seasons in F1. The tyres they made are horrendous for racing. We have drivers still today overheating their tyres within a quali lap. What kind of BS is that?? Saving tyres in S1 and S2 just just to have enough grip in S3.

              Pirelli was asked to copy Canada 2010 supposedly. What we got in return are tyres where still today drivers are driving to a delta time & so slowly (Monaco a few years ago Mercedes was said to be driving a big slow silver bus so nobody could pass so they could save their tyres). The high deg tyres should have drivers pushing hard lap after lap at what 80-90% of the car’s limit & not what we have today, drivers going 10-16 seconds a lap slowed just to reach the desired stint length to prevent more tyres stops.

              Drivers can only defend for a few corners until their tyres overheat and can’t go back into Pirelli’s tiny “operating windows” (that windows has been mentioned for years). They are a terrible tyres.

              After reading WEC comments about Michelin tyres. I truly believe they can produce as they say. A tyres can push hard lap after & consistently. Not this BS now where we get a “pass” because a driver is on 5-10 lap old tyres and is 2-3 seconds slower than the car attacking and making an “overtake”. Throw in DRS and we have at almsot every race the most boring passes ever.

              Oh yeah, Pirelli’s wet tyres??? What a joke. Drivers crashing behind a safety car, horribly slow tap times when any bit of rain hits the circuit. So bad, that we have never had so many safety car starts & just skip inters & go straight to their terrible full wet tyre.

            2. @geemac

              The point is that no self respecting tyre manufacturer would produce the dross they are being asked to, for fear of the damage to sales of their real world products, hence stupid is as stupid doe’s…
              As for their wet tyre’s, cut slicks have been around for longer than I have, that’s a LONG time and if they can’t get them right it merely compounds the problem.

              If Hankook really believe that supplying F1 will enhance their standing then good luck to them, I think as Pirelli are finding, they will be wrong.

          3. “Stupid is as stupid doe’s” [sic]
            What a stupid reason for choosing road tyres… lmao.

      2. No worries, they cannot do it. They are too incompetent to create a tire that is fast and durable.
        Just look at their wet tires.

      3. You are boycotting a company that has complied with the terms set forth in their contract? You rebel, you!

    2. Let’s see how this goes. It is good that there are at least 2 bidders for the supply.

      1. Can’t think anybody will be seriously considering developing tyres for 1 year, @bascb.
        Either Hankook is only a token candidate (get a bit of free press), or hopefully, Fomfia will change the starting date as they should.

        1. I’d guess that if Hankook is serious about getting itself in the top league of tyre supplier worldwide they would be willing to spend the money to do the job @coldfly.
          It would probably mean that the tyres for that year are pretty under developed, possibly pretty hard.

          The starting date cannot easily be changed. It would need Pirelli to agree on doing another year of their deal. And what incentive would they have to help out their competitor?

      2. I have a funny feeling that Hankook will get the contract. I would guess they are probably more interested in 2021 onwards and are taking a long-term view and trying to get their foot in the door.

      3. Loosing the blankets is the only thing that is giving me hope that these tyres will turn out to be good. They will have to work in a wider window at least

    3. Why not delay until 2023. Give Pirelli another 3 years on the current deal and from 2023 start with 18 inch wheels and possibly a new supplier.

      With the delay of the new engine rules and $150m budget cap it seems only logical to mark 2023 as the start of the new F1.

      1. that would make too much sense, @silfen.

      2. Legally they have to open a tender. Its just a formality. Dont worry, Pirelli will remain the tyre supplier for the foreseeable future.

      3. Why not arrange a one year extension for Pirelli? Then open the new contract starting 2021, in line with the new team’s commercial agreement. That makes most sense to me.

        1. Pirelli would be stupid for allowing a one year extension. They would lose leverage and allow more competition for the next contract.

          The reason for the one year at 13″ is that the full regulation changes don’t go into effect until 2021. If they changed to 18″ a year before the regulation changes they effectively have to design a new car two years in a row.

          So moving forward they need to adjust the timing of the expiration of each contact to coincide with regulation and commercial contract changes.

        2. @tonyyeb I think they have already run that by Pirelli and found that they are not interested in just a one year extension just to accommodate F1. At least I thought I had read that here within the last few months. Otherwise wouldn’t Michelin still be a strong candidate to take over if they didn’t have to do the one thing that has stopped them in their tracks…make 13 inch tires just for one season. I wonder if Pirelli knows that if they had agreed to just sign on for one more year of 13 inchers, F1 would then welcome Michelin with open arms and turf them (Pirelli) to the curb.

        3. That makes most sense to me

          To you yes, you do not hold the F1 tyre supplier contract.

          A 1 year extension makes no sense to Pirelli, which is why it is not a thing.

          I wonder if Pirelli knows that if they had agreed to just sign on for one more year of 13 inchers, F1 would then welcome Michelin with open arms and turf them (Pirelli) to the curb

          Damn right they do. The tyre size change is their ace card.

      4. @tonyyeb, as @robbie mentions fOM / FIA tried to talk with Pirelli about extending for a year. But Pirelli was not into a one year deal. And yes, they have to do a tender due to their own rules.

        As Martin already mentions Pirelli is clearly aware that the only reason to agree to such a 1 year extention would be to help their competitor out.

    4. What’s the use for Hankook to even attempt to bid? Why on Earth would they (or anyone for that matter) be willing to manufacture x-inch (13 in this case) rims for one season only to then move to an entirely different rim-size (18 in this case) altogether? It’d be a total waste of time and money for any tyre manufacturer except Pirelli, of course. For it to make proper sense for any other manufacturer to become F1’s next tyre supplier, either the start of the next tyre-tender contract should be pushed back to 2021, or the move to the 18-inch rims should be brought forward to 2020.

      1. @jerejj certainly a waste on time and money but seeing the bigger picture it’s certainly very lucrative. Don’t forget Hankook already supplies F3 and that it would also probably bag F2, effectively ousting Pirelli from the top steps of single seaters.

        1. @spoutnik They have current F3, but that stops being a thing at the end of this season and the Pirelli-shod GP3 gets renamed in its place. I’d imagine the tyre status-quo will remain for next year.

      2. @jerejj But there’s the rub, right? How do they force Pirelli to accept just a one year extension bringing them through 2020 such that someone else can just pick up the ball with 18 inchers in 2021? They don’t seem willing to accommodate F1 that way.

        As to moving the intro of 18 inchers up to 2020, that doesn’t really work either as it would be much much more financially efficient for the teams to just design and make the new chapter cars with the bigger rims in mind all at once rather than spending small fortunes adapting the current cars to 18 inchers for one season only then to move on to the wholely different cars of 2021 onwards. Brawn does not want to foist on the teams, especially the smaller ones, those kinds of expensive single season knee jerk moves ala the BE era.

      3. I will always be confused, I suppose, but comments this such as “What’s the use” and “It’d be a waste of time” for Hankook to bid for an F1 contract. On what evidence, sir are you declaring it would be a waste of time for this multi-national corporation with a market cap of nearly 6 billion USD to place their hat in the ring? If they are bidding, that means their corporate board, CFO’s, business analysts, lawyers, and accountants have all deemed it a worthy risk and apparently quite worth their time.

      4. Hankook is a small brand compared to Pirelli or Michelin. They can grow with the F1 exposition.

        1. It still is the 7th largest tire company in the world.

    5. Does hankook stand a chance against Pireli? It seems set up for Pireli from miles away. The fact that we have only two approved appliers for the “Top of the motorsport” is so bad, companies should rush to get such an advertisement but what they ask does make sense for none. How can we hope for a tire war if we can’t have two makers?

      1. Do we really want a tyre war? Best case scenario, we go back to the “Bridgestone circuit/Michelin circuit” or “Bridgestones are better in hot weather, Michelins work better in cooler temperatures” we had back in the day. Worst case scenario, one manufacturer does a better job than the other and half of the grid lose any chance of a fair fight because they’re using subpar tyres.

        1. I don’t want that bad a tyre war. A lot of people think it will solve every problem but the truth is, it not doable at the current state of the sport.

          1. @notacop But you said: “How can we hope for a tire war if we can’t have two makers?”

            1. Or Michelins v Goodyear of late 80s – it was very one sided to Goodyear.

            2. @garns, it wasn’t just one-sided to Goodyear, Goodyear themselves was actively screwing over a number of its customers.

              I recall that the former chief mechanic from Tyrrell mentioned that he once asked Goodyear to supply additional information which they’d held back from the team (relating to the stiffness of the tyres). Goodyear bluntly refused to give him that information because “you’re not worth enough to us” – they only gave that information to the four biggest teams (Williams, Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton), actively skewing the races in their favour by denying information to other smaller teams (and they did that even when Goodyear was the only tyre supplier in the sport in the 1990s).

              Tyre wars are usually pretty terrible for the smaller teams, because most of those tyre manufacturers would be biased towards a handful of teams, or sometimes even just one team – Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear and others have frequently been criticised for such tactics (although, in the past, it seems that Pirelli did tend to treat its customers more fairly – that mechanic mentioned part of the reason why Tyrrell switched to them for a while was because Pirelli was much more willing to co-operate with them than Goodyear were). It doesn’t really benefit them, and quite often can hurt them more than anything else, whilst often increasing the advantages that the larger and more powerful teams have.

        2. Well, how about nominating one manufacturer to make the best possible tyre they can, the other to complete with whatever rules they are going to put into place, name the good tyre as essential, make them all run all of quali on it, start on it and retain the two compounds rule for the race so all drivers have to run both

    6. Does anyone know when Hankooks’s contract with DTM expires? It occurs to me that from next year, DTM could look less attractive without Mercedes and that Hankook may look to ‘trade up’ to F1.

    7. I recall many, many years ago Hankook made a serious bid to replace Firestone in Indycars when it was CART.

    8. I still don’t think it’s correct that the tyre supply is decided on commercial grounds.

      FOM/Liberty shouldn’t have a say IMO, If the FIA wish to stick with a sole supplier it should be a decision made solely by the FIA based on who can come up with the best product but ideally there should be some competition with it left upto each team who supply them with tyres.

      1. That may sound nice, but what would be the ‘best’ product. If I remember correctly the FIA was the one that asked for high degradation tires, or at least they accepted it.

    9. What is the reason for the current single supplier contract? Commercial, on safety grounds? Personally I would prefer competition between tyre manufacturers on the track rather than at the PowerPoint presentation stage. Some of the sports biggests surprise & shocks have come about because of tyre competition. And, I really miss having a surprise every other Sunday…

      1. @skylab The show.

        Can’t ensure tyres that fall to bits in 10 laps if you have competition between suppliers trying to actually produce good race tyres that offer high performance.

        Heaven forbid that F1 the top of the ladder, the pinnacle of the sport actually uses tyres designed to be the best tyres possible instead of the comedy tyres seen more recently!

      2. @skylab – If we think too much is decided by tires now, it would be compounded with a tire war. What if one tire mfr. produces such better tires that it becomes the primary difference between cars that are otherwise equal? Is that fair? If teams could switch tire mfrs. during the season it might be more fair. But, that will never happen. There are some good reasons for that, possible safety concerns, and ultimately for the protection of the tire manufacturers as well.

        1. @bullmello Whats the difference between a tyre supplier producing a tyre that gives the teams running them a performance advantage & engine, Gearbox, Brakes, KERS etc… which all have the prospect to do the same?

          I’d much rather teams be allowed to select which tyres they want to run on there cars rather than them all been forced to use tyres that are simply not fit for F1 & which it is clear none of the teams or drivers are especially happy with.

          Those that complain about a tyre war potentially giving some an advantage if there tyre supplier gets it right while the other doesn’t have forgotten what F1 is supposed to be & what it is not supposed to be. F1 isn’t supposed to be equal, It isn’t supposed to be purely ‘A show’, It is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport and the pinnacle of technology and performance.

          If you do not want a tyre war because somebody could gain an advantage then why not have them all run the same engine, kers, brakes, chassis, aero kits etc…? They all offer the opportunity for one supplier to have an advantage. There is literally zero difference between any of those things or tyres.

          F1 needs a tyre war so we can get away with having to put up with these utter garbage tyres we have had to deal with since 2011.

          1. it is perhaps also worth pointing out here that in every fan survey that has been done a vast majority of fans have called for a tyre war, it was something like 80% in the gpda survey as well as the more recent liberty one’s.

            it is something fans want so it is something they should consider as i see no real downsides to allowing a tyre war again. there’s been more years of tyre competition in f1’s past than without afterall and it was always great.

      3. @skylab, cost was one major factor – the teams were the ones footing the bill for that development, and even the larger teams were in revolt about the cost of testing.

        The idea of having a single supplier was put forward by the teams to the FIA because it was the teams who saw it as a way of significantly cutting costs – not only by cutting back on development work, since the tyre suppliers are then not having to spend as much, but because the development and testing costs are then split amongst all teams much more equally, rather than being lumped on a smaller number of teams.

        Another intention was to help level the field a bit more, since what usually happened in tyre wars that you’d end up with one or two wealthy teams that became the favourites for a particular manufacturer, with the rest being treated poorly by comparison.

        During the last tyre war, Bridgestone and Michelin ended up narrowly focussing on just one major team each – Ferrari and Renault – which was very much to the detriment of the rest of the field, given it tended to make the sport even more of a two team race (not to mention that, in the past, some tyre manufacturers would deliberately withhold information from customers because they openly favoured a small group of teams).

        If you focus just on a few large teams at the front, then you probably think that a tyre war is great because it’s probably your team that is winning out of it – if you look at the impact it has on the rest of the grid though, it’s usually quite a bit more negative.

        1. This from anon:
          “Another intention was to help level the field a bit more, since what usually happened in tyre wars that you’d end up with one or two wealthy teams that became the favourites for a particular manufacturer, with the rest being treated poorly by comparison.

          During the last tyre war, Bridgestone and Michelin ended up narrowly focussing on just one major team each – Ferrari and Renault – which was very much to the detriment of the rest of the field, given it tended to make the sport even more of a two team race (not to mention that, in the past, some tyre manufacturers would deliberately withhold information from customers because they openly favoured a small group of teams).”

    10. Doesn’t really matter who does the supply. As lng as all teams have the same and we do not return to the era of multiple tyre manufacturers. What an absolute .. that was

      1. @mayrton But those were different times. Times of unlimited testing, and Ferrari with Bridgestone even having a headquarters right at their own private track. And I will continue to maintain that it was never the tire competition that caused the processions. It was and still is about too much aero dependence on clean air.

      2. @mayrton I’d actually rather we go back to tyre competition, I thought the tyre war was great…. Certainly better than anything we’ve had since. Bridgestone been overly conservative from 2007-2010 & Pirelli been forced to make the tyres they have since 2011.

        F1 is supposed to be about competition, About teams, drivers, engine manufacturer’s, Tyre suppliers & more pushing themselves forward & finding performance gains to make the best product possible. We have never & will never have this with a sole tyre supplier as there’s no incentive to push performance or technology which is why in periods of a sole supplier the tyres usually tend to be un-ideal.

        1. @stefmeister

          …which is why in periods of a sole supplier the tyres usually tend to be un-ideal.

          Really? I don’t quite know how 2007-2018 has been any worse than the tyre war era during the 2000s. Was there less overtaking? Or fewer title fights? Or less predictability? Or more boring races?

          1. @mashiat It’s not so much less overtaking, Title fights etc… I was thinking more about the tyres themselves.

            From 2007-2010 for instance Bridgestone were producing tyres that weer super conservative, Offering good performance (Although down from the performance levels seen from 2001-06) yet next to no wear & hardly any difference between there compounds because. And from 2011 Pirelli ended up making tyres that some felt were lacking in terms of overall performance but had a lot of degredation (As they were asked to do) along with small operating windows etc…

            If there’s no competition there’s far less incentive to develop, Less incentive to push boundaries & you always tend to end up with something that simply gets the job done, That is ‘safe’ but not at the cutting edge of performance or technology. Look at Michelin in WEC for instance, They developed a slick intermediate in order to find an advantage over there competition… Your never going to see that sort of thing in F1 now because the sole supplier has no need to spend the time or resources on that sort of development as there not fighting anyone.

            1. @stefmeister Obviously no competition will mean that innovation and risk will be far lower, however, with competition, one manufacturer will always do better than the other(s), and we end up with a situation whereby there is a greater divide in racing, and another factor outside of the control of most teams. Not to mention it could get political as well. I already don’t like the whole power unit situation where unless you have a Mercedes or a Ferrari engine, you will be nowhere. And Mercedes and Ferrari can choose exactly who they want to supply to, so Red Bull and McLaren, for example, are never going to get either. I can see a situation where Ferrari/Mercedes wants a “veto” over who their tyre supplier can supply. And a team can do a great job, but be let down by their supplier doing a terrible job. Personally, I’d rather see DRS stay for another decade than a tyre war.

    11. The only way a tire war is acceptable is if the teams develop their own tires, otherwise we give way too much influence on the racing to outside entities.

    12. And let the rumors about a Korea GP start.

    13. Why not both? I want variability, a tire war would help.

    14. Well, Hankook is a decent tire manufacturer from my experience. For whatever anecdotal tire evidence is worth.

    15. Whatever the politics and other machinations behind the selection process might or might not be, if Hankook win, they would be the first new tyre supplier in F1 since Michelin appeared at Silverstone 1977…

      1. Only if you include Bridgestone’s one-off supplies to some little-known Japanese entries in the 1976/77 Japanese Grands Prix, otherwise it’s Bridgestone in 1997.

        1. Yes, but I think Fuji ’76 still counts…Bridgestone were not really NEW in 1997.

    16. There are several comments here about the additional (and unwelcome) costs of running 13″ wheels for just one year… but does anybody actually know what this cost would be… and are we alone in worrying about it…?
      Pirelli has declined to add an extra (13″) year to their existing contract because they don’t seem to feel inclined to ‘assist’ the FIA (cost was not mentioned, I believe), which is not unreasonable… and Hancook don’t seem to be bothered…
      Anybody…?

    17. Who is showing “l[there is a lot of] interest in degradation”?????????

      No one on the grid, that’s for sure. And I’d have to say the fans who are asking for it don’t know what F1 is or are simply ignorant, by definition.

      Count me against it. Again.

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