MILAN, Italy (April 29, 2010) — Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. plans to bid to become the race tire supplier for the Formula 1 world championship starting next year replacing Bridgestone Corp., which is bowing out at the end of this season after four years as the series' sole supplier.
Pirelli said it plans to submit its technical and commercial offer for the contract by May 9, the date of the next Formula 1 race—at Circuit de Catalunya in MontmelÃ³, Spain, north of Barcelona—to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and Formula One Administration Ltd. (FOA), the sport's governing bodies.
It apparently will be in a bidding battle with Group Michelin and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Avon Motorsports unit, both of which have acknowledged being in discussions with the FIA and/or F1 teams about the contract.
Pirelli was an F1 tire supplier on at least two occasions in the past, the last time from 1988-91. It also weighed bidding for the contract four years ago when it last came up for offer.
Pirelli is the spec tire supplier for the FIA's World Rally Championship through 2011, for the Grand-American Rolex endurance racing series through the end of this season and for the new GP3 single-seater series in Europe. It also supplies tires to the International Rallye Challenge, to competitors in the Le Mans Series and other various national racing series in Europe.
Of the three companies, Michelin has the most Formula 1 experience, most recently competing from 2001-2006, garnering 43 Grand Prix wins and four world titles during that span.
Michelin's motorsports activities this year are focused primarily on international endurance racing, principally with the Le Mans Series, American Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series. Michelin reportedly has told F1 teams it would propose changing the tires they use now to a lower-profile type of tire like those Michelin supplies to endurance racing series.
The F1 tire design in use is a higher profile design with considerable sidewall height that plays a role in the way the cars' suspension systems work.
Avon Tyres has an active race tire design and manufacturing unit at its Melksham, United Kingdom, headquarters/plant. As recently as two years ago it supplied racing tires to the A1GP series—a racing series with cars similar to F1 albeit with a spec chassis and lower powered spec engine. It did supply F1 for parts of a couple of seasons in the early 1980s, but that was limited to only about 22 race starts.
Avon is supplying race tires this year to a variety of motorsports venues wordwide, including Cooper-branded tires for the IMSA Lites and USF2000 championships in the U.S.
The FIA's process for finding a tire supplier is through a tender process conducted by its World Motor Sport Council.