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Would F1 benefit from multiple tire suppliers?

Mar 7, 2013, 5:12 PM EST

F1 Testing in Barcelona - Day Two Getty Images

Since entering the sport in 2011, Pirelli have enjoyed the luxury of being the only tire supplier in Formula One. With all teams on the same rubber, it certainly creates equality, but with tires the key component when deciding a strategy, could a second tire supplier be good for the sport?

Pirelli’s Formula One chief Paul Hembery has made his stance clear: Pirelli are in it alone, or not at all. He believes that if there was a second tire supplier, both companies would be spending millions of dollars to gain a slim advantage. The costs spiral for the suppliers, meaning that the teams will have to make up the difference, and with many outfits struggling to stay afloat, it could cause financial trouble.

The advantage of competition between two tire suppliers would be increased efficiency. Back in 2006 (the last season with multiple suppliers), Michelin and Bridgestone worked alongside Renault and Ferrari respectively on either side of a championship battle. As the season rolled on, the tires improved in quality race-by-race. Although Pirelli do have an incentive to produce high quality tires for the sport, this would be an even greater one with the presence of a second supplier.

The ban on refueling came into effect in 2010, placing a greater importance on the tires. Just as teams have the choice between engine suppliers, by being able to choose which tire supplier they work with, it could lead to a far closer working relationship, therefore improving the standard of racing as teams can give better feedback. Pirelli do however get this feedback from all eleven teams: surely this leads to a tire that is suited to the whole grid?

A second tire supplier would add another sporting twist to Formula One, but in the current economic climate, it would be unwise. Teams are struggling to stay in the sport, so being forced to pay an extra $5m for their tires would only make things tighter. The parity currently enjoyed by the teams does also stem from them all using the same tires. Ferrari forged a particularly strong partnership with Bridgestone in the early 2000s, which many believed went too far. Whilst Pirelli continue to deliver a good set of tires which spice up the racing (which they have done so far), it is hard to find a strong argument for bringing a second company into the fray. Regardless, it is certainly an option the FIA will be considering whilst rumors hang over Pirelli’s future.

  1. f1fan1 - Mar 7, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Irrespective of cost, I’d love to see tire competition again in F1

  2. Jeff - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Yes

  3. rafaelsantoni - Mar 7, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    I too actually miss having multiple tire manufacturers on the grid.

  4. icemanpjn - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:55 AM

    The tires aren’t supposed to get better. Ideally everything should improve, but the tires are deliberately imperfect. The Bridgestones of a few years back could last an entire race from start to finish without even needing a change, leaving drivers switching only because the rules say they must. When we went to Pirelli the life span of tires dropped off dramatically, but this was intended. The FIA doesn’t want the tires becoming better. They want them to make it just part of a race and to fall apart.

  5. wallio - Mar 8, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    Its better for competition. Michelin left and we got the Bridgestones that were so hard they could go multiple races, but before that we had very good very sticky rubber. Hell even in NASCAR, when Hoosier left, Goodyear started making the crap rubber drivers still complain about today. All series should have 2-3 tire companies.

  6. PZ - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Bernie wanted tires which were a challenge for the teams in order to add a new variable to the series. If the bring in another tire manufacturer, he’ll need to tinker with something else. I think I prefer the current option.

  7. Keith Collantine - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    As Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said recently there’s “no appetite” in the sport for a return to a tyre war, and with good reason.

    The teams don’t want the horrendous cost of tyre testing, which brings with it no reward. They might as well light bonfires of cash.

    The governing body needs a single tyre supplier so cornering speeds can be kept in check on safety grounds (or would you rather see even bigger run-off areas?).

    And as Pirelli themselves point out, tyre wars aren’t even attractive for tyre manufacturers, who are at best fourth in line to get credit for victory behind the driver, his team and his engine.

    Do those who argue for a tyre war really want to go back to the days of one driver winning races by a minute because they have bespoke tyres (2002, 2004) or championships being decided by one tyre manufacturer getting their rivals’ tyres banned (2003)?

    Ending the tyre war has been a success for Formula One. We have closer, more exciting and less expensive racing. Why jeopardise that?

    • showbizk - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Keith, I agree with everything you said, except “one tyre manufacturer getting their rivals’ tyres banned…” Michelin’s problem had nothing to do with Bridgestone’s getting anything banned. The Michelins couldn’t handle Indy’s last turn to the long straight without blistering and failing. I was there. It was a travesty, but not because Bridgestone “had their rivals’ tyres banned,” but because their rivals’ tyres couldn’t handle Indy.

      • Keith Collantine - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        I was referring to Michelin’s tyre construction being outlawed late in 2003 which was very much at Bridgestone’s instigation, not what happened at Indianapolis in 2005.

  8. apexassassin - Mar 8, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    One tyre manufacturer hurts the show and the sport. Pirelli are not earning customers with F1 fans, imo.

    Competive, exciting F1 = yes, please
    Stagnant, roulette wheel results = bullsh!t

    In short, I’d love to see the series open to multiple tyre suppliers and NO CUSTOMER CARS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank god the engine regs are changing too! Not having a developement race is one of the worst modern concepts applied to F1.

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