Pirelli set to face F1 tire tender challenge as Japanese giant eyes a return to the sport

F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands - Qualifying
A detailed view of Pirelli tyres during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on April 08, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

F1 tire supplier Pirelli might face competition for the official FIA tender for the 2025 season and beyond from Bridgestone.

There have been suggestions that Japanese tire giant Bridgestone might have made a bid to return to the sport, according to a report by the Motorsport Network.

The manager of motorsports planning at Bridgestone, Eiichi Suzuki, told Motorsport Network:

“We are always thinking about what and how we can best supply our motorsports activities in global categories, including F1. Of course, we are conducting research on such matters.”

Refraining to specify their F1 involvement, a spokesperson of the company told Motorsport Network:

“Bridgestone has a heritage of over 60 years in motorsports and we will continue to pursue sustainable global motorsports activities. However, we refrain from commenting on any particular categories.”

FIA opened its tender process for the official tire supplier for 2025 to 2027 earlier this year. The application deadline for the process was May 15, 2023.

According to the Motorsport Network, Bridgestone is one of the contenders for the tender bid. Pirelli was given an extension until 2024 due to the pandemic and at the last tender, they faced competition from Hankook.

Bridgestone, meanwhile, was involved in F1 from 1997-2010 and faced stiff competition from Michelin in the tire war era of the sport until 2006.

Pirelli has been the F1’s official tire supplier since 2011 and has made tire strategies in a race interesting over the years.

Although Bridgestone refrained from confirming their application for the tire bid, the report said likewise.

Pirelli F1 tire tests focused on tire blanket ban rule

The Pirelli tire brand focused on developing and testing tire compounds that will work without tire blankets for the 2024 season.

At the recent test in Barcelona, drivers including Mick Schumacher, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz carried out some of the testing duties.

According to Pirelli F1 chief engineer Simone Berra, they are positive they will be finalizing their proposal for the FIA around the Silverstone test.

Berra told the on-site media at the Barcelona F1 tire test:

“We are trying to test different constructions to move forward because the target is no blankets for 2024. We need to have a construction that obviously needs to have a high level of integrity but also needs to work really well when the pressure is low at the start of the run and help the compound to get up to temperatures and in the working range.
"We are continuing to develop new structures that are part of the development of this one, and then we will start to focus on the new compound range with no blanket usage.”

Berra added:

“I'm confident that we will reach our targets because I know that from a tyre perspective, no blankets is a target that can be reached. Obviously, we are not able to reach everywhere or control the circuit conditions. So we have to trust in what we have tested at the moment. What we obtain is in-line with with our development path, [then at] Silverstone we will finalise our proposal for FIA.”

The F1 tire tests that have been held in Barcelona and will be held in Silverstone next month will significantly impact the 2024 season.

After Pirelli submit their proposal to the FIA, it will be up to the governing body and the teams to approve the tires. The Barcelona test is the last time they will analyze the 2024 tires before they submit their final proposal.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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