Formula 1 Renews Exclusive Tire Supply Contract With Pirelli
Despite a challenge from Hankook, Pirelli will remain the sole tire supplier for Formula 1 through 2023.
Formula 1 and the FIA announced Sunday morning prior to the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that Pirelli will remain the sport's exclusive tire supplier through 2023.
"This new agreement extends our presence to a total of 13 seasons in the modern era, with Pirelli also present in 1950, when the World Championship was inaugurated," stated Pirelli CEO and Vice President Marco Tronchetti Provera. "Formula 1 is and will remain the pinnacle of motorized competition: the perfect environment for Pirelli, which has always defined motorsport as its most advanced technological research and development laboratory."
Pirelli has been Formula 1's sole tire supplier since Bridgestone withdrew after 2010, and its original contract ran through 2019. Bridgestone ruled out a bid for the 2020-2023 supply contract, as did Michelin, though Hankook reportedly contested Pirelli for the spot, though it failed to win.
Extension through 2023 means the new contract will span two significant regulatory overhauls, one in 2019, and one in 2021. With 2021's cars will come 18-inch wheels, which are said to be more road-relevant, and easier to keep in the ideal pressure range. Rotating mass will increase with the 18-inch wheels by up to 30 percent, though front tire widths will narrow from 305 mm (12 inches) to 270 mm (10.75 inches). A tire blanket ban could also reportedly come into play, despite multiple attempts and failures to enact a similar ban within the last decade.
Pirelli's contract does not rule out future competition from tire suppliers such as its alleged rival Hankook, or even Michelin, which told Reuters in 2015 that its return to Formula 1 would hinge upon introduction of 18-inch wheels. With Michelin's requirement codified, its name may again fall into the hat come 2022 or so, when supply contract bidding opens up again.
The Drive contacted Formula 1 for additional information on the future of the sport's tire supply, and we will update when we receive a response.