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Pirelli left in limbo as 2014 Formula 1 tyre supply confirmed
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Sep 2013   |  3:53 pm GMT  |  145 comments

One of the secondary notes from the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting yesterday in Dubrovnik, was the announcement that Pirelli will continue to supply tyres to Formula 1 in 2014, but for how much longer than that remains unclear.

The FIA statement said that in future the choice of tyre and fuel suppliers will be FIA business and that the commercial rights holder will have the opportunity to do a commercial deal with them for track signage etc only once the selection process has been completed.

We will deal in another post with the suggestion that F1 may move to a single fuel supplier – which would cause problems for Mercedes and Ferrari in particular as they have substantial commercial deals with fuel companies.

The FIA’s move on tyres is to avoid a repeat of the current situation where Bernie Ecclestone had concluded a five year deal with Pirelli and the teams had all signed up too, before the FIA had been through its process.

The FIA has said that “In this new process, the FIA will be confirmed as the body in charge of conducting the tender process. The Commercial Rights Holder will be entitled to run the commercial negotiations with potential suppliers, with a view to the selected single supplier being officially appointed by the WMSC.

“In order to cover the transition period and considering the contracts already settled by FOM and the Teams with Pirelli, the WMSC today confirmed that Pirelli may continue to supply tyres to competitors in the FIA F1 World Championship, subject to the requisite technical and safety standards of the FIA being met.”

This leaves Pirelli somewhat in limbo, they have at least a season, but presumably there will be a tender process for 2015 onwards. Paddock sources say that the commercial contracts are only valid if Pirelli has a valid contract as official tyre supplier to the FIA.

Michelin has expressed an interest in returning to F1 but only on their terms which are to move away from high degradation tyres, which are meant to spice up the show. Also they want F1 to move towards low profile tyres on 18 inch rims.

Pirelli have already invested heavily in the 2014 tyre research and test programme, as the 2014 tyres are completely different in character from 2012/13. The torque from the turbo engines is significantly higher and Pirelli say that the current tyres would be shredded by a 2014 car in a few laps.

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The tyres are used as part of the suspension as well


I wish they would allow the return of a tyre war. I know the costs spiral, and there’s the risks of a team monopolizing a supplier (Ferrari 2000-2004) and a USA 2005, but surely there are ways around these problems (development frozen at start of each season/rules mandating companies supply same spec of tyres to supplied teams/testing of tyre integrity?). It would add interest for the fans and marketing value to the suppliers. It would give us circuit specific variation and weather specific unpredictability. Perfect!


hans, you can’t possibly say that. firstly, not one ’14 car has even tested let alone raced.secondly even if they had it would still not be an indicator as to how the seasons racing would progress.

thirdly, the tyres will not [hopefully] become a differentiator. there is no way that you can even vaguely predict any outcome vis-a-vis the tyres. tyres have very little to do with boring races. engines and aero are the two main causal issues defining what could be seen as being boring and what isn’t.


It’s a shame the teams don’t provide a recent test car.

I think we will see a veeeery conservative tire construction next year – Pirelli does not want to get into trouble like in Silverstone and they don’t know how the cars will react.

Ergo: We will see – concerning the tires – very boring races because the tires will last very long and they won’t differ as much as in the last years.


Pirelli have ruined F1. I think they should bring back rock hard tyres that don’t dedrade very well and let the drivers race. Look at the 80s with Mansell, you’d change your tyres at the 75% mark and go 3 seconds a lap quicker. Make F1 a drivers sport, not the Red Bull show. Formula 1 used to be a drivers sport in those days and it was interesting, you don’t need 20 pit stops because that’s not exciting.

Mike from Colombia

Todt has probably promised the fuel supply to friends at Elf.


Single tyre and possibly single fuel supplier. Is Formula 1 slowly turning into a same car formula?


With Pirelli F1 turned into the farce. We want exciting racing, keyword is RACING.


in relation to the above posts re TC i recall webber stating emphatically that ‘vettel owned sector three’. this was also emphasised by giancarlo minardi himself who observed that very fact!!

interesting and maybe james can follow up on this…


The current crop of high degradation tyres far from “spicing” up the racing actually “dumb” it down as cars are overtaken when their tyres go beyond the thermal limit and lose grip. The correct term might be to mix up the racing, and as a consequence we have drivers pushing far less to avoid the overheating scenario. All I can say the sooner Michelin come in the better. That said it is not the fault of Pirelli as they supply to the remit they are given, but of the FIA and Ecclestone. In 2014 because of the higher torque generated, Pirelli are to some extent going into the unknown, and the tyres are lightly to be very conservative.


Pirelli ran things a bit too close for comfort during the early part of the season with tyre wear, it bordered on farcical and there were times that it was blatently unsafe to race.

Having said that, if you take Pirelli’s time as a whole, they definitely delivered on spicing up the on track action for every season bar this one. The last thing F1 needs now is a return to the Bridgestone/Michelin days of super tyres.

They have to remember that now F1 is on a pay per view model, people simply will not tolerate a boring season like they would have in the past. Thus if F1 loses viewers, it will be incredibly difficult to win them back.


This is an opening salvo by the FIA to grab some of Bernie’s power in the sport, probably influenced by the legal hurdles in his path.

Much more to follow, I’m certain.


James, I would like to know what you think about the Minardi article on what he observed at the Singapore Grand Prix. He basicly accused Red Bull ( only on Vettel’s car) of using some kind of traction-control.


If Mr. Minardi doesn’t understand that Vettel’s speed came from new supersofts, I doubt he understands traction control.

It’s all in the excellent Singapore race strategy report.


yes matt, i too would like see some close attention to this matter as well. i know that vettel is an ‘uber’fast driver but the variance between his and webbers car just seems to be, IMO, too large to be simply down to driving skills.

maybe i am seeing shadows instead of light but it does seem to be an item of supreme interest.


If Pirelli got dumped, who else would want the job? Michelin has got a great gig in endurance racing where they are free to make super fast super durable tires. That’s good for business. Making substandard fragile tires for the sake of closer racing – that’s bad for business.


As time goes on it gets more difficult to stomach how the FIA has been mismanaging the sport. While somehow our attention has been focused on Perelli or the teams.

Spec tires, then spec fuel, spec electronics and homogonized engines, what part will be specified by the FIA next? The KERS system is already limited to a max output and time per lap so there can be no innovation there. The innovation in F1 is so Mickey mouse at this point that I get excited about Merc putting some golf ball dimples on their rims.

Not to mention DRS, rules against defending overtakes, unpaid marshalls and all the rest.


James it might be worth checking into the claims that the current tyres couldn’t stand the extra torque of the Turbo engines. More torque(ie. twisting force) at the wheels is no doubt harder on tyres and there is also the effect of extra Kerrs to be considered, but as far as the engines are concerned more torque may not necessarily hurt the tyres.

The current V8 has a 20% higher rev limit than the Turbo (18000 vs 15000 rpm) so as I see it the Turbo will need 20% more torque at its flywheel to match the V8’s torque at the wheels where it counts. To keep it simple lets say they are both geared down to produce a maximum of 1000 revs at their driving wheels, then that means an 18 times transmission torque multiplication for the V8 and only a 15 times torque multiplication for the Turbo.

So if for example the V8 has 250 lb ft at it’s flywheel then that calculates to 4500 lb ft at the wheels (18 x 250 = 4500).

As for the lower revving Turbo it needs 300 lb ft (which is 20% more)at it’s flywheel to match the V8’s 4500 lb ft driving wheel torque (300 x 15 = 4500). (Of course in the real world both wouldn’t quite have 4500 lb ft at the wheels because there would be frictional losses but I trust you get my point).

Both of these engines would be producing the same power and thus getting the same amount of work done in the same time, but the results would be achieved through different gearing (the formula for horsepower is:- hp = lb ft of torque x rpm/5252)

To me torque comparisons can be misleading when engines have different rev limits.


Max. torque has little to do with rotation of the engine, but is derived from cylinder pressure, crank throw and throttle opening. In other words when the cylinder is at maximum pressure is the point where max. torque occurs. Everything of course has mass, and hence inertia, and the fuel charge is no exception so there will be a point in the engine speed range where pressure maximises.


Well it was Hembery himself who said it so…


DRS and high degradation tyres designed to overcome rev limit and weaker slipstreaming+dirty air.

Rather than using these bandages, F1 needs serious consideration to these two areas to improve racing.

Given the short extension to Pirelli, Michelin are probably already signed for 2015.


It seems that the FIA has got itself into allsorts of trouble from being too slow, too badly managed and not planning ahead well enough.

The FIA should have organised a tender process for the tyre supply in late 2012 for a 2014 start and then there would have been no trouble.

On another note it does seem that the FIA wants to close in on being a spec series with one Fuel supplier, one tyre supplier… what next? engines? gearboxes? Is this purely because the FIA can charge a fee to companies who wish to enter into tender? We all know they are on the hunt for more $$$

This has to go down as a spectacular failing on the Todt Regime. Poor planning

Mike from Colombia

Too slow, too badly managed and too French.


Hi James. There are stories of Red Bull using traction control surfacing on the Internet. Any thoughts on this and why haven’t we heard such stories through the mainstream media? Cheers.


read an interesting coment on this on f1sa site from giancarlo minardi who was watching trackside-very interesting especially as he compares vettels engine sound to the othe renault users inc webber and states that the engine note changed at different points of the race i.e after safety car etc-aswell as other noted differeces in car behaviour-not saying its true but def interesting!


I alsoread Mr. Minardi’s comments on a german site as well. He of all people should know of different engine settings for different parts of the race.

Maybe SV just set his engine on its highest setting while ripping off the laps that led to his 30 second lead? Accusing Renault and RB of a traction control device is pure speculation, hearsay and rabble rousing without supporting evidence. Besides, much of the engine parameters are fixed and controlled through a standard Mclaren supplied control component.


With all this talk of 18″ rims all we hear about is the need to change suspension. I would like to hear a lot more about what else it would mean.

Have you driven the same car with normal tyres and then with low profile tyres? The difference is enormous. The steering is a lot stiffer and the suspension a lot harsher. Any slight deflection puts a lot more shock and force directly onto the mechanical components and the car is a lot less comfortable – fine on a motorway but can be awful on poor urban roads. So what would be the realities of using them on an F1 car?

The drivers would probably be more fatigued coping with the jolting movements. In races like Singapore we might see a driver reaching the end of their ability to drive at the limit. Perhaps this would mean a lot fewer would abuse the kerbs and stay on track – something I would welcome.

The components would have to be a lot tougher yet more compliant. We could compare the difference to that of water beds. The current tyre is like an unbaffled water bed and is uncontrollable. 18″ rims would be like a fully baffled water bed with a damping effect.

The brakes don’t have to be different – but with time we could see larger discs and wholly different cooling ducts. Heat transfer to the tyres would be massively different. Along with this the hubs could be very different. With more space we might see a whole range of differing solutions to this area. While we are at it what about the exterior – a few years back we had all manor of extra bits added to the wheels for aero effect – how about freeing up this regulation to see what we could get?

Also with the on track action there will be a difference when in close quarters. Presumably a puncture from a wing end plate would be less likely – but what else would it mean? Tyre to tyre contact might become wheel to wheel – so what does that mean?


FIA are bunch of birocratic hypocrites. Any meaningful business is not going to do any dealings with those who are poking their noses into what is not suppose to be their business. They contracted “Panta” fuel supplier in 2008 for World Championship (KF2)Kart Formula 2 held in La Conca, Italy. Not only that all of us, all of a sudden, had problems with that fuel, some 140 engines collapsed out of 80 competitors but we were paying fuel price per litre 2.5 more in comparison to the price of fuel that one would pay at the public petrol stations at the time. It was a scene that no one could believe. I wonder what would happen to the teams which are sponsored by some petroleum companies. No, no, FIA is on the course to be the undertaker of F1 with Jean Todt at the helm. What happen to that man. Was he replaced by the avatar ?


‘birocratic’ as in spelling error OR . . .

‘birocratic’ as in very clever pun . . ?

I will assume the latter and add it to my dictionary.

Thank you!


Napoleon comes to mind…


Have a look here for a rendering of a modern F1 car on 18″ rims


I understand the position that the FIA are taking. Too long now has the commercial rights holders and Bernie been the puppeteers of Formula 1. Bernie says “we want entertainment – juggle the tyres so they are on the edge” Pirelli says sure – no problem – because they have an exclusive contract! I want to see competition even between tyre manufacturers as long as the rules make it competitive- ie teams still have to run different compounds each race. If Pirelli can’t handle that – See ya later!- Bigger wheels and tyres with more innovation in suspension is good for F1 rather than the same ol same ol !

Will anxiously await the post in fuel because really to me this is no different to tyres. I think overall though the FIA are trying to minimise management and costs of suppliers. If they only have one supplier to deal with it limits admin and costs I guess. But I’ve always believe competition always brings out the best (sometimes the worst too :).

F1 is slipping behind other motoring categories and if we look at sports cars and how competitive and innovative it has been over the last few years you could understand why change is needed. When you have a manufacturer like Porsche saying their not even interested in F1 because there are no synergies to their philosophies – I think its a greet shame. 2014 will bring us a step closer to change but more is needed longer term.


I think this might all be about easing Bernie out and Pirelli is just the convenient victim (although it stirs warm feelings in my soul).


Good luck to anyone who fancies their chances easing Bernie out. He has been around a long, long time and they would have to get up very early in the morning indeed to get one over on him 😉


We need to repent the sin of short-life tyres.

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