Pirelli tyres, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023

FIA invites tyre manufacturers to bid for F1 supply contract from 2025

2023 F1 season

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The FIA has opened a tender calling for tyre suppliers to submit offers to become the exclusive tyre supplier for Formula 1 and its two top junior series from 2025.

The supplier will be required to provide rubber for Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 for a three-year period covering 2025 to 2027.

An invitation to tender forms the first step in the FIA’s process of nominating an exclusive tyre supplier for its three major international single seater championships. The chosen supplier will provide 18-inch tyres for the three seasons after the active contractual agreement with Italian tyre manufacturers Pirelli expires at the end of 2024.

Pirelli have been the exclusive tyre supplier to Formula 1 since 2011, when it took over from Bridgestone. The company was tasked with developing F1 tyres with a ‘cliff’ in performance towards the end of their lifecycle in order to improve the quality of racing. The FIA’s invitation to tender explicitly retains the performance ‘cliff’ as a target for the tyres produced for the 2025, 2026 and 2027 seasons.

Pirelli have indicated their intention to apply to continue as Formula 1’s tyre supplier for the upcoming period. Asked during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend if Pirelli wished to remain in its role until at least 2027, the company’s chief Formula 1 engineer, Simone Berra, said that “we will be there and we propose ourselves.”

There has been some criticism of Pirelli’s Formula 1 tyres during its current contractual period, which began in 2020. In 2021, before the introduction of 18-inch wheels to the sport, eventual world champion Max Verstappen expressed his dissatisfaction after he suffered a tyre blowout while leading the closing laps of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at over 300km/h. However, since the 18-inch wheels were introduced with F1’s ground effect technical regulations in 2022, there have been no high-profile tyre failures during grands prix weekends.

South Korean tyre company Hankook responded to the FIA’s last tender for a tyre supplier in 2018, but the FIA selected to remain with Pirelli until 2023. That tender was then extended by a year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which caused a one-year delay to the introduction of the 18-inch format.

The FIA’s invitation to tender for its exclusive F1 tyre suppliers confirms its current intentions for tyres to used without blankets to preheat them. The ban on tyre blankets is scheduled to come into force next year providing sufficient representatives of the FIA, Formula 1 and the 10 teams vote in favour of it. However several drivers have expressed concerns about the plan.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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25 comments on “FIA invites tyre manufacturers to bid for F1 supply contract from 2025”

  1. Ahhh, that’s a shame, I thought it was a call for more tyre suppliers, so we can have a tyre war in Formula one again… Oh, well, guess that ain’t happining…

    1. There’s nothing more silly, counter-productive and competition-ruining than a tyre “war”.

      1. There’s nothing more silly than producing tyres designed to degrade fast, and turn formula 1 into an endurance/management sport, instead of all-out qualifying laps from beginning to end. Especially in a world paranoid about climate issues, the waste of tyres and contamination of the environment with rubber makes no sense.

        Competition between tyre manufacturers should incentivise development of new tyre technologies and enable drivers to push hard. Formula 1 should not be a tyre science sport. Drivers should be allowed to push.

      2. F1 is supposed to be a competition, Not just between teams & drivers but also engines, gearboxes, brakes & other components of which tyres are a part. Tyre competition was a part of the sport from day 1 & was a part of the sport for decades & should be again.

        What has been the benefit of the sole supplier era?

        Tyres that aren’t fit for purpose & more tyre related issues & drama than was ever the case when there was competition. As well as there having to be specific regulations dictating how teams are able to use the tyres & setup there cars for the tyres for the first time in the sports history.

        Tyre competition is part of the DNA of the sport, If F1 is still a sport then tyre competition should be allowed but since we all know that the show is valued more than the sport now they will stick to this Anti-F1 horrible unfit for purpose sole tyre supply.

    2. On today’s terms it would not be tyre war. It would be tyre miscommunication or tyre partnership or anything positive cause tyres may hurt their feelings if people say arbitrary that tyres are in war

    3. The thing with multiple suppliers is that one of them will get it right meaning we can immediately write off all other cars not using that tyre. Within that poule of written off cars there might be big driver names who basically could go home and not participate. I do not see how this would improve the racing. Since F1 is not a spec series we have already enough elements distorting an equal playing field.

    4. Wouldn’t mind seeing Pirelli going though. I have driven their tyres on road cars for almost two decades now and I can honestly say not a single acceptable pair has come my way. At least after the initial 3000 km or so. The go of the cliff instantly. Might be the run on flat thing, but they are all without exception rubbish, cupping, vibrations the lot. I switched to Bridgestone the moment I was free to make a choice and it is a world of difference.

  2. Perhaps Michelin returns, given that they wouldn’t have to make previous-generation tyres for a single season anymore, although the ‘performance cliff’ target could turn them away.
    Hankook will probably be a more direct tender competitor.

  3. Hopefully Pirelli are replaced. Their tyres don’t ever seem to have been up to the required standard. Not as far as the drivers or most of the teams are concerned it seems.

    1. Pirelli’s contract with F1, F2, and F3 requires the tyres have what is called a “performance cliff”. This is part of F1’s tyre specification. Don’t blame Pirelli for the quality of the tyres because they just supplied the tyres F1 wanted at the agreed price. Pirelli is entitled to make a profit on the tyres they sell to the teams.
      After Qualifying the driver on Pole Position is often seen on the F1 broadcast posing with a Pirelli tyre. As far as I know none of the drivers who have done this promotional work have argued about it, so I have to assume they understand the tyres they are promoting conform to the specifications issued by the FIA or F1 or whoever.
      Generally when you call for tenders the cheapest tender is the one accepted. If F1 wanted more robust tyres then they would put that into their specification, but they didn’t, or if they didn’t want the “performance cliff” then they wouldn’t have put that requirement into their specification, but they did put it in.

      1. I completely understand that the “performance cliff” is built into the tyre specification. Yes those who qualify well don’t complain at the time about their tyres. However, there have been hundreds of complaints about the tyres not working as expected in the races or degrading in an unexpected way. Then I think it’s widely agreed that the wet weather tyres don’t deliver what they are supposed to do.

        It’s not just about qualifying. Then drivers are paid to do promotional work or have it in their contracts.

  4. Has anyone heard suggestions of who might be interested? I think the degrading tyre formula will turn most off if it is intended to remain. Look at the abuse Pirelli has taken when they get it slightly wrong and they have the most experience w modern F1 cars. Seems to me there’s more risk than reward for suppliers. Unless tyres are allowed to be designed to last…

    1. Michelin said it was interested in 2018, but they wanted 18″ rims and they had ‘concerns’ about the high-degredation tyres. In other words, they wanted that scrapped before they put their name on F1 tyres. It never amounted to anything because F1 refused to go 18″ for the 2020 season (the current regulations were set to be introduced in 2021, but that was postponed due to the covid pandemic starting in China). That would have required Michelin to make tyres for the 13″ spec for a single season, which they had no interest in doing.

  5. I don’t think being the sole tyre supplier, given the mandate of degrading tyres, is a good appeal for other companies to consider F1 right now.

    Pirelli really suffered in terms of PR image in the few years after 2011. Diehard fans didn’t like that the tyres were designed for degradation first and performance second, and casual fans and even non-F1 fans wouldn’t have been impressed by episodes like the 2013 British Grand Prix. Plus they take a lot of heat when the degradation-oriented tyres don’t result in a variety of 1, 2, or even 3-stop races across a season, which must be incredibly hard to engineer. And their full wet tyre is rubbish, but that’s their own fault!

    Michelin did consider a return to F1 a few years ago, but pulled out on the basis of the degrading tyres concept being continued. And I feel that most companies will match that sentiment. If this is true, then the only way to entice other suppliers would be a structural shift away from degrading tyres. With the popularity of F1 these days, I don’t think it’s worth the risk of overhauling a huge component of the modern F1 formula.

    1. Along with the degrading tires concept, Michelin is currently supplying tires to the WEC, IMSA, and MotoGP, so I don’t know how many more racing series they would want to take on. Besides Hankook the only other big supplier that I could maybe see being interested is Goodyear/Dunlop with the increased ratings for F1 in the USA.

    2. Plus they take a lot of heat when the degradation-oriented tyres don’t result in a variety of 1, 2, or even 3-stop races across a season, which must be incredibly hard to engineer. And their full wet tyre is rubbish, but that’s their own fault!

      That’s the main thing, Pirelli might have a crappy mandate – but they’re not even doing a particularly good job at it. Even a decade on it’s still basically impossible to have different tyre strategies. Teams will still always want to stop as little as possible, so the best teams do a – for example – Medium, Medium, Hard strategy while everyone else will do a Medium, Hard, Hard. Or variations on that theme.

      Pretty much every F1 driver who went to the WEC was excited about having Michelin tyres that can be pushed and pushed some more for laps on end. It makes no sense that F1 spends all that money on cars and then has them limited by tyres that fall apart by design or have a operating window smaller than Mercedes’ chances at the 2023 title.

      Unfortunately (but to a degree for good reasons), F1 has removed so many technical and driving variables from the racing that it’s left with the tyres as one of the last remaining ways to generate somewhat random pace differences between cars.

  6. I’d love to see a new supplier, would make for an interesting season or two as teams figure out how they work. With the limited testing it would be a serious challenge for teams data collection and correlation capability.

    Don’t know if it will happen though, F1’s growth offers huge value proposition for a tire supplier, but it’s also a tonne of work.

  7. I can never understand the hate for Pirelli. They design the tyres F1 wants them to and they get precious little time to test them. Another manufacturer that came in would be in the exact same position…

    1. @geemac F1 asks Pirelli to make different compounds to create opportunities for varied strategies, both in terms of pitstop and pacing throughout a stint. But what actually happened is that when Pirelli made tyres with a pronounced ‘cliff’, everybody in F1 moaned and whined. Then followed a few compounds that literally fell apart, so from 2015 or so onwards Pirelli has been mandating tyre pressures, even giving ‘limited warranty’ by issuing pitstop guidelines, and generally being far too involved for what is still essentially a spec part supplier.

      The compounds themselves are still too fragile to push for multiple laps, but they can last far longer than intended by driving conservatively. In between, they are apt to slide around because their optimal window is very small. This makes the races rather dull as everyone is generally driving at a tyre-dictated pace.

      As Michelin indicated, this is a bad mandate to have. No wonder F1 had to resort to asking Avon before Pirelli effectively ‘saved’ F1 and its silly tyre ideas. Not sure why they think this is working in their favour, but at least F1 still has a ‘premium’ supplier.

    2. @geemac

      They design the tyres F1 wants them to

      Yes & No.

      F1 doesn’t tell them how to design the tires. The only thing that has ever been requested/mandated is tires that aim to create different strategies and in more recent years aim to hit specific performance ranges. How Pirelli go about achieving those things is 100% upto Pirelli.

      So yes you can blame F1 for the mandate but then most of the tire related problems that have come about since 2011 have been as a direct result of the way Pirelli decided to go about achieving that via thermal sensitivity. That was a mistake & something everyone in the motor sport world (Especially other tire suppliers) was surprised by at the time as everyone knew that wasn’t going to give them a good race tire.

      I also remember talking to a Firestone engineer at an Indycar Sebring test in 2013 where he predicted what happened at Silverstone that year as apparently it was well known that using a steel belt rather than a kevlar belt in an F1 tire was going to cause problems with overheating & heat retention that made the bond between the tread & canvas more likely to fail on high load circuits. Only reason Pirelli went to the steel belt was to cut costs & actually they were aware of the mistake long before Silverstone (As early as Bahrain that year when they saw the first failure) & were already planning the switch back to a kevlar belt which is why they had an improved batch of tires ready to go with a kevlar belt for the following race a week after Silverstone.

  8. It would be a mirracle if anyone would replace Pirelli. It’s like with the 10 teams Liberty wants to keep things stable with Pirelli.

  9. Poisoned Chalice – who in their right minds would bid for the chance to be abused by the teams and fans on a race by race basis when they are simply producing tyres that the FIA have mandated.

  10. I’ve always found the economics of tyre supply to F1 somewhat surprising. The costs of development obviously isn’t the same as Goodyear, Bridgestone, Michelin incurred in the ‘tyre war’ eras. *I agree with Keith, in that I don’t have particularly fond memories of these periods, it was just a massive performance step and then everyone switched to that tyre.

    But it can’t be cheap to make thousands and thousands of tyres and ship them around the world (I get they get money from the teams), but do they sell more tyres? At the end of the day, how many people are driving their car up to a garage and asking for P-Zero’s? Generally speaking, people just want the cheapest and longest lasting tyre available. Very few people care if their car is on Continentals or Hankooks.

    Yet Pirelli are willing to go to all this effort? They obviously see it as profitable, and they know more about selling tyres than me.

  11. The $200 million anti- dilution fee may be a stumbling block for hopeful new or returning suppliers.
    Don’t tell me Pirelli don’t have that in their contact!

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