F1 needs a tyre supplier for 2011 – and a new tyre war isn’t the answer

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bridgestone tests F1 tyres ahead of what could their their last season
Bridgestone tests F1 tyres ahead of what could their their last season

Bridgestone announced last year it will stop supplying F1 tyres at the end of 2010.

On the face of it, replacing them might not seem like the most pressing problem FIA president Jean Todt has to deal with.

But F1 teams will be pressing ahead with their 2011 car designs soon and for that they’ll need to know what tyres they’re going to be using. And finding a replacement for Bridgestone – or convincing them to stay – may not be easy.


Bridgestone announced its withdrawal from the sport the day after the last race of 2009. It issued a press release which rather vaguely said it desired “further intensive development of innovative technologies and strategic products”.

Inevitably, one has to wonder whether Bridgestone might be talked back from this position and might just be angling for a cheaper deal for the next three-year contract.

With up to three new teams on the grid this year and two more races on the calendar, both of them ‘flyaways’, Bridgestone face an expensive 2010.

But the FIA have gone some way towards mitigating that by reducing the numbers of tyre available to teams. Last year each driver had 14 sets of dry tyres to use per Grand Prix weekend. That has been reduced to 11 (the allocation of wet and intermediate tyres remains unchanged at four and three respectively).

Had the tyre allocation remained the same in 2010, Bridgestone have to have supplied 5,187 sets of tyres throughout the season – 45% more than last year (excluding testing). The reduction in allocation means they only need to supply 4,446.

That’s still almost 1,000 more tyres than they provided in 2009. But if US F1 and Campos fail to materialise, and Stefan GP don’t win a place, Bridgestone will only need to bring 3,762 sets. That’s just 212 more than they did in 2009, and in return they gain exposure in Canada and South Korea.

Will that be enough to tempt them to stay?


Michelin tyres beat Bridgestone's in 2006
Michelin tyres beat Bridgestone's in 2006

In the past few days rumours have gained pace that Bridgestone’s former F1 rival Michelin could return to the sport to take their place. The rumours seem credible because Michelin are one of few tyre manufacturers likely to have the data necessary to manufacture F1-standard rubber and the infrastructure to fly thousands of sets of tyres around the world.

Michelin left F1 in 2006 on a high after winning back-to-back world championships with Renault. But their time in the sport was beset by controversy.

In 2003 their tyres were abruptly ruled illegal late in the season, forcing a re-design which scuppered the championship chances of Michelin-shod front-runners Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren).

They suffered a drubbing at the hands of Bridgestone in 2004 but bounced back in 2005 when new rules banned tyre changes during pit stops. The French company’s product won every race – bar the infamous debacle in Indianapolis.

We shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the Indianapolis episode automatically rules Michelin ineligible to be F1’s sole tyre supplier. Different tyre suppliers have faced similar problems in the past including some at the same circuit. NASCAR’s race on the Indianapolis oval in 2008 was ruined by repeated Goodyear tyre failures.

NASCAR at least managed to have some sort of race thanks to co-operation between Goodyear and the championship organisers. A similar compromise was not found at Indianapolis in 2005 – not least because Ferrari’s team principal Jean Todt, eager to capitalise on the team’s only chance to win a race that year, wanted no concessions made to their rivals.

It now falls to Todt in his capacity as FIA president to broker a deal with his countrymen. Hopefully that Indianapolis episode is water under the bridge to all concerned.

Tyre war?

Some will ask, why have a single tyre supplier at all? Why not let teams arrange their own deals with tyre suppliers and allow them to develop newer and faster compounds.

In short, why not bring back the tyre war?

Tony Dodgins has argued for this in Autosport (link, subscription required) but I disagree. F1 cannot afford the consequences of a new tyre war.

Tyre technology is fixed at the moment – bring back the tyre war and lap times will be slashed by whole seconds per lap. The FIA will have to find new ways of keeping speeds under control. I think limiting the tyre specification is preferable to further constraints on car design and engine performance.

Bring back the tyre war and we’ll go back to the days of tyre manufacturers developing rubber specifically for whichever team can pay the most. No-one wants a return to the one-sided domination of a single team we saw in 2001, 2002 and 2004.

F1 car performance has become increasingly close in recent seasons, thanks in no small part to the end of the tyre war. Bring it back and the gap between the teams will increase once more.

As well as impairing the competition, resuming the tyre war will force costs up. Nothing racks up testing mileage like developing new tyres. Even with a single tyre supplier the FIA has seen fit to beef up restrictions on simulated tyre testing in the 2010 rules. Imagine the lengths they’ll go to if tyre technology is freed up again.

In an ideal world F1 could have free development in every area of car technology – engines, aerodynamics, tyres, the lot. But costs and speeds have to be kept in check because the sport cannot be allowed to spend itself into oblivion or compromise safety.

A return to the tyre war isn’t the answer. A new tyre supplier – or a new deal with the old one – is.


Images (C) Bridgestone, Renault/LAT

135 comments on “F1 needs a tyre supplier for 2011 – and a new tyre war isn’t the answer”

  1. [quote]Bring back the tyre war and well go back to the days of tyre manufacturers developing rubber specifically for whichever team can pay the most.[/quote]

    I agree to this completely and is probably my biggest reason why i rather not have more tyre suppliers.

    1. Bring back the tyre war > yes very correct!

      …we may even see passing too!

    2. Quite, I am delighted to see the back of Bridgestone after their shameful pandering to Schumacher in those years mentioned by Keith to the expense of the sport.

  2. I would love to see a grid with all different types of tyres, Bridgestone, Michelin, Dunlop, Goodyear, Pirelli, etc. But as you said it just wouldn’t be good for the sport.

    1. Please no!!
      I don’t want to see a grid where the quality or rubber decides which teams are fast and which are not despite having faster cars and/or drivers.

      Tyres is the aspect of the car that may have the biggest impact on it’s performance on the track – thus producing the biggest advantages and disadvantages to teams/drivers who happen to have chosen the better or worse tyre manufacturer respectively.

      Such huge enaquality is more than I can handle.

      Indianapolis 2005 FOR THE LOSE!

      1. the quality OF rubber*

    2. I prefer the Pirelli calendar though…. :-)

    3. In theory it would be great if each team had a unique tyre supplier, but in reality it would never happen, there probably aren’t enough tyre suppliers around the world to supply 13 seperate teams to a similar standard….

      (a lot of unintentional assonance in the second half of that sentence!)

      1. “(a lot of unintentional assonance in the second half of that sentence!)”

        Hehe :) Ssssssssasasa.

      2. Technically if it’s a load of S sounds, it’s called “sibilance”. Kudos for not just saying alliteration though ;-)

        That’s about all I remember from my A-Level English…

        1. My sibilant sister is saying something I so surmise silly.

          Thank gosh we built an Empire. You are
          welcome for the English lessons. NEXT!

          LOL. ;)

    4. Theoretically you could have multiple tyre manufactures if you simply disallowed the teams from setting up the deals.

      Have the FIA/FOM set the standard which the manufacture has to meet or beat, and a price point, Then have the teams purchase the tires from the FIA/FOM…

      1. Jarred Walmsley
        17th February 2010, 6:16

        Now theres an idea, then we have variety without having to have the competition. However as with the engines, there would have to be limits as to how many each manufacturer could supply then some teams may cry over it saying it’s not fair so a single tire manufacturer will make things easier.

  3. I agree I think a tyre war would not be of benefit to F1 at the moment.

    While generally I dont like standardisation in F1 as I wouldnt like to see it turn into a spec series I except that some restrictions are inevitable both for racing reasons, banning driver aids such as traction control, and for cost cutting reasons, such as the engine freeze.

    Tyres are supposed to be the area of F1 development where it is easiest to make gains as they are the single biggest performance differentiator, we just have to remember back to some races last year such as Australia when some drivers were on the wrong tyre or their tyres had gone off how they were easy prey for other drivers.

    Having a sole tyre supplier in F1 means it is possible to have a control tyre to keep speeds down rather than constantly limiting performance in other areas.

    The only thing wrong with the tyre regulations at the moment is the rule whereby drivers have to use both compounds during a race. If the powers that be want to keep this a good compromise that I a poster suggested on this site would be that if a driver wants to change tyres during the race they have to use the other compound, but otherwise they dont have to use both compounds so there would be nothing stopping them trying to stay out on the same set of tyres for the whole race.

  4. i think it will properly be, either a tire war or bridgestone supplying. only because the FIA like birdgestone and michilin are losing money; this could be due to less advertising though the f1 -partly due to recession as-well-

  5. Tyre war is not the answer. Keith is right in saying the highest bidder will get the best compound, remember Ferrari in the earlier part of the naughties.

    I like the idea of each team sorting itself out when it comes to tyres. Why cant they just fit their preferred tyre? If the FIA can come up with a solid set of specs, any of the major tyre manufacturers could do build a tyre to that spec.

    If I was a tyre company, I would be very interested as I dont have to spend too much money since I’ll only be supply a few teams and the publicity will be great. It would be good for the sport as well as the competition will heighten.

    Having a two horse tyre war is not good, but a 4 horse or 6 horse war is more like it.

    F1 should adopt an open market for tyres in 2011. This way, the teams can sorting out next season’s car now!

    I think this will be a real acid test for Jean Todt…will be watching his decision closely.

  6. Michelin want to show off their tyres in a ‘green’ way, so we may go back to 2005 tyre rules, where only one set were allowed (without penalty) for the entire race.

    1. Yeah I could see that happening if they come back.

      I quite liked that rule, but I’d prefer to see drivers have the freedom to chose whether they change tyres or not, rather than having rules forcing drivers to change tyres and forcing them to start on the tyres they qualified on.

      1. I liked that rule too, it made for some great races in 2005, particuarly towards the end of GP’s where overtaking is usually non existant (eg Monaco, Nurburgring, Suzuka etc).

        But although I agree in principle with the idea of allowing the driver the option of stopping for tyres or making one set last an entire race, I don’t think it would work in reality. I imagine one preferable system would emerge at each race, and all cars would end up on the same strategy.

        It would be great to see one driver make an extra tyre stop and blitz his way through the field to win, but overtaking is so difficult these days I don’t think this would ever happen

        1. I didn’t really like that rule – pitstops will get really exciting and I really thought something was missing from the show when all that happened during pit stops was just refueling.

          1. The one-tyre rule in the races was good, although like most rules in modern F1 the teams had adapted to it by about the two-thirds point of the season and the impact of it was much lessened.

            Still, if they did come back with newer tyres, it’d be good for a season.

            But with the FIA in the mood it is now about the “show”, without refuelling and one-tyre rules they would come out with the most horrendous gimmicks to increase “strategy”.

          2. I agree – I still want pit stops and I want them to be a flurry of activity. 2005 pit stops were boring, three guys around the fuel hose and one guy sticking a probe into a tyre.

            I agree with Ned Flanders that Monaco was great that year. Alonso overcooked his rears and we saw lot’s of overtaking in the closing laps, but pit stops are mini races inside races and if we have 3 second stops this year it will be awesome!

          3. Absolutely shocking that rule was awful, so awful even the FIA changed it back, that should tell you something.

      2. Anything to keep us away from the
        Nascar style of weekly equalization
        of grid times and performance.

  7. Maybe a tyre war would not be so bad. Considering that the amount of testing is so limited, I think a good tyre development is just as difficult as car development. The huge testing Ferrari did with Bridgestone is definitely of the past. And the huge imput Michelin and Renault had when they came back together decades ago, was a lot of hard work and effort. Things we like to see in F1.
    I would love to add the changes of tyres. Like having two, three or even four suppliers. Maybe different dry/wet weather tyre suppliers? It will bring back supplier bringing the right tyre for the right track. Then each supplier can deliver four compounds at beginning of the year to homologate, just like the engines, fuel, etc. etc.
    I would love to see Vredestein tyres give it a try. Or see a return of Firestone to F1.

    1. No tyre war please! Tyres should not be a major performance differentiator like they were before Michelin left the last time.

    2. I dont mind the idea of different dry and wet weather tyre suppliers. It wouldn’t be a tyre war and costs are kept reasonably low for both providers concerned.

      1. Brilliant Idea.

    3. Or, taking the idea a step further, how about a single tyre supplier for different races? Firestone could supply the Canadian race, Michelin half of the European races, Yokohama the Asian races, etc.

  8. I think the FIA should allow teams to use whichever engine and tyre they want and just limit the top speed and testing mileage. How would that be a bad idea? As far as costs are concerned, this isn’t GP2, its F1. The FIA guys are a bunch of moruns.

    1. “How would that be a bad idea?”

      Just on costs alone it’s a bad idea. Mercedes spent 96.1 million in 2008 on just engine costs alone. Mercedes will leave F1 if costs do not come down significantly in the next year or two. A tyre or engine war does not help with cost reduction. It’s nothing to do with the FIA.

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      16th February 2010, 12:18

      Not sure how you would limit top speed. By limiting gearing and rpm, or by some FIA bloke with a speed gun?
      Neither would be very satisfactory.

      1. I’m sure that measuring the current speed of the cars would not be much of a challenge for the engineers in F1…

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          16th February 2010, 15:07

          The F1 engineers (who work for the teams directly) would not have any interest in limiting the speed of the cars, it would fall to the FIA to regulate the speeds by yet more rules or direct observance at races.
          And for what benefit?

          1. Limiting speed is the worst idea imo. It’s the worst thing to have hit F1 in the recent years. I absolutely despise the FIA for this, limiting revs to 18k was good for the engines, they last more now and that in turn cuts costs. But what’s the deal with cutting speed, this is F1, it’s almost all about the speed, why work towards making it slower and thus less interesting? With safety standards having gone up by leaps & bounds, I don’t see logic in cutting speeds. The cars are super strong, the tracks are way safer than they used to be couple of yrs ago, so just let the speeds be.
            Tires, well, allow about three tire makers but limit the development costs allowed to the teams, it worked for engines, so why can’t it work for tires? If the FIA allows multiple engine suppliers, then why not the same for tires?
            Control tires are not good for the sport. It hurts innovation.
            If the development costs are kept minimal, I don’t see a reason why there can’t be 3 or 4 tire suppliers in F1! Let each team choose its own supplier.
            Adding to that, tire specs are set by the FIA, they could lay down a few more regulations and prevent the tire makers from going nuts with development while allowing reasonable freedom to alter compounds within set development costs.
            This would bring in healthy competition as all teams would have a limit on tire development expenses but have the freedom of choosing from 3 or 4 different suppliers. The limit could be set keeping the smallest team’s budget in mind, this would ensure a fair platform for all.
            As an advantage, this would also significantly bring down costs to every tire maker, as it would be supplying much lesser tires than if it had to supply to all the teams. This would keep them from calling it quits from the sport due to costs.
            It sounds sensible to me.
            What do you guys think?

      2. the idea it is just nonsense imho. But easy to implement. Your friend is the ECU. Every car sold in Japan is limited to 112 mph by law, in Europe it is 155 mph. Like i said nonsense but easily done.

  9. Either way it’s tough. As the sole tyre supplier for F1 the only time Bridgestone gets mentioned is when the drivers aren’t happy with the tyre, or the tyre goes off. Not the positive message they want consumers hearing. If your product is constantly mentioned in a negative light, then eventually the average consumer is going to start believing that the product is bad.

    However having multiple suppliers brings about a tyre war.

    Maybe the answer is multiple suppliers, with more FIA control over the technical specifications of the tyres.

  10. Supercars aren’t restricted in their engine configurations (V8, V10, V12, W16, etc), capacities, or tyre choices. Take the Veyron for example: Custom-built 16-cylinder engine with 8 litters, 1000 HP, custom-built Michelin tyres, one million pounds. I don’t get it why the FIA is ******* up F1 like that. Why restrict the engine configuration, tyre compound, aero, etc? Why not just limit the top speed and, maybe, testing mileage?

    1. It’s all to do with costs my friend. If you want F1 to be contested by Ferrari and a lot of independent, but generally inferior teams, then your idea is right on the money.

      1. That’s where the budget limit comes into play. Limit the budget and allow a greater freedom of development.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      16th February 2010, 12:18

      How exactly would you suggest limiting top speed without restricting engine configurations? As soon as you de-regulate engine development, designers will all run off in whichever direction you let them. They will find new ways of making engines faster and faster.

      And I’m taking it you’re already aware testing mileage is banned? In-season testing is banned, and pre-season testing is restricted to 15,000km and teams can only field one car at a time.

      1. I mean restricting top speed to 220 MPh, for example, and testing to, let’s say, 3000 Miles.

        1. *Make that 30,000 Km

      2. Oh, and having the drivers do nothing for the whole winter period is just super! This is just bad management…

    3. Aleksandar Serbia
      16th February 2010, 13:47

      First of all because progress is what makes people decide who is better seven89x, restricting tech is not the way, getting cars to have more mechanic grip, less aero is the way! Look at champcar in its glory days, you could pass even on a short strait! Plus another gadget that champ car has is the 1 minute turbo boost you can use during the race in f1 case lets say extra 1 min of 2000-3000 revs!
      This way you could pass somebody with a better car if he used up his 1min during the race! Get back to the old spec, bigger, huge back tires and small front ones, more braking mistakes! Get rid of the diffusor, lower the aero grip and you got yourself a series. I know a lot of tech nerds here would disapprove, since they are not into racing but who has a better looking shark fin, aero intake and testing time results, we need to put more people on the stands, that means less boring racing, in a short summary lets put the driver into the equation not just the machine!

      1. I think your argument is sound, but I agree with Keith a tyre war is the wrong way to go.

        The last two years we have seen closer racing than in the previous decade. This year shapes up to be even betterand all of this is done on common rubber. Next year we lose th diffuser so I think we are building the right way.

        I hope Keith is right that Bridgestone stay but in the process we lose this stupid two compund rule. We all know they race on Bridgestones and if you don’t then you really shouldn’t matter to the Bridgestone marketing machine as you aren’t a fan.

  11. In a way I like a tyre war but in the end as said by keith, it would not be good for the racing.
    Remember how bridgestone developed a perfect tyre for ferrari and the races where dull!
    The great close championships are indees down to the tyres for a big part!
    I hope we see Michelin back. Imo they are the best in racing rubber!

  12. Tyre wars rarely actually “work”. There’s only a very limited set of circumstances in which they are a welcome additional factor. Most of the time it just unbalances everything.

  13. Knowing the current obsession with ‘improving the show’ I wouldn’t put it past the FIA to have two different tyre manufacturers, with each car having to use both Michelin and Bridgestone during the race.

    1. Right you are. Even though the FIA doesn’t know what the show should be. They think they do, but they don’t.

    2. They can’t even film the races in HD, much less 3D. If the FIA were run by Japanese, I think it would have been filmed in HD now and 3D next year. But Bernie is slow…

      1. Bernie still lives in the 60s. The highest level of motorsport is yet to see HD! Wow! No more than the lamely limited info on our TV screens during the race/quali/practice. No interactive stuff, no behind the scenes, no nothing! When does this lunatic leave F1? Does he have an expiry date on him or not? And the FIA… it’s just working so hard to make the sport duller, more monotonous and less popular every year, not to mention, slower too. Soon, we’ll see drivers sitting in simulators and contesting the WDC on arcade F1 instead of real cars. But we’d still have all those limits in the world and more. Bloody hell.
        I sometimes seem to support the FOTA breakaway series idea just to get rid of the FIA monarchy. Darn!

        1. I agree completely with your posts Rits, see my other posts on this page for my further opinions.

          I agree with you the regulations need to be loosened not tightened. The engine freeze has been a big mistake. Luca di Montezemolo has been speaking a lot of common sense lately, pointing out that F1 is going in the wrong direction, and hinting that Ferrari may leave if it doesn’t change. So maybe the hope for a breakway isn’t dead.

          1. @Rob R.
            I read almost every comment on the pages I write on as they come to my inbox!
            Having said what I said, I would not want a breakaway series. Just that the sport is losing its charm and the ****** at FIA are doing nothing to save that. In a few years are we going to see 100 cc engines or worse, electric ones in F1, who knows? I mean, where is this sport going? Reducing speed, smaller engines, no engine dev, its all sad news and every year they come up with smthing worse. Only good thing to have happened in the recent years is the return of slicks. They’re trying to cut costs to save the sport by making it easier on teams’ expenses, good for them, but save the sport to make it duller by the day makes sense? I don’t think so.
            And Bernie is a curse on F1. He still thinks its the same year when he took over in the 70s, its more or less the same from the telecast point of view as I could figure from old videos (I was born in 85!). This sport seriously needs some overhauling and that includes losing ‘Bernie the retard’.
            btw, hope you read my post regarding tires a few comments up. Let me know what you think of that idea mate.

  14. Did the current crop of Alonso fans enjoy seeing him win back-to-back championships against Schumacher? They did, that’s for sure. Yet most of those people probably don’t know that he had better tyres, or a mass damper in 2005. They just know that the 24 year-old won against Schumacher, even though the 2005 fight was against McLaren/Kimi (who is a great driver). Better tyres and a better car allowed him to do that. There should be more than one tyre manufacturer in F1.

    1. He still had to drive.

      1. Jarred Walmsley
        17th February 2010, 6:20

        Yes, however the point is that he had a far superior car and thus the driving was easier.

        1. that is why we also have a WCC. I say lets bring the tyre war on. Imagine the fun we missed last year because rocketship Brawn GP wasn’t on a slightly inferior tyre.

  15. You people shouldnt complain about the differences in performance for the various cars. Im sure each and every one of you has a favorite team/driver. I bet youd love to see those win every single race, wouldnt you? Technological superiority is key to F1. Always has been, always will be

    1. Agreed! For the peeps who support less variety and more standard stuff, Formula Renault is what you should watch, not F1, not even GP2!

  16. If tyre companies want to compete against each other in F1, they should start their own teams. The idea that F1 should be used as a proxy for some kind of advertising/PR war between tyre manufacturers in ludicrous. It undermines a lot of the sporting element in F1, which must be a sport first and a business second if it is to prosper.

    In short, I agree with keith

    1. in every sport i can think of teams choose their kit supplier at will. Do you see FIFA rules state that only nike can supply football boots and shirts during the world cup? on the contrari FIA determines which tyre supplier, how many teams with the same engine, how many different ECUs in the grid…
      They say bring order and predictability, I say bring chaos and unpredictable racing.

  17. Keith! I think you’ve convinced me :) Even though I used to enjoy the tyre war, this is good sense. However, I think arguments against tyre wars shouldn’t focus on the dangers of increased testing, as it’s always possible to limit testing, and indeed possible to limit simulated testing too…. on which note, I’m going to PM you a thought for the season.

  18. The last thing I want to see is a tyre war – identifying the best driver in the field is difficult enough without re-introducing this additional unwelcome variable.
    The current tyre regs give us compulsory tyre stops; this rule was introduced purely to pander to Bridgestone as they were concerned they wouldn’t be noticed when they became sole tyre supplier in 2006. Now that the FIA has done the right thing & banned refuelling, the next logical step in improving the racing is to remove this requirement & allow teams to the flexibility to do what they want with tyres, ie run an entire race on one set if they want to (as they used to).
    Worryingly, Mitchelin have said in relation to coming back to F1 that they would require a change in the tyre regs from 2011 to ‘show the performance they can bring, notably in terms of fuel saving & CO2 reduction’ whatever that means.
    So, if Mitchelin do come back it is likely to lead to yet another change in regs which does absolutely nothing for improving the racing & the enjoyment of the fans.
    What is required is a single tyre supplier without their demands colouring the racing. If this means the teams have to pay the supplier for their tyres so it makes economic sense for them, then so be it.

  19. I agree. I personally hated the tyre war back in the early 2000’s, it did nothing towards the quality of racing and if anything damaged it. The best thing that can happen is for the FIA and Bridgestone come to some kind of compromise, to keep costs down to a minimum inwhich all concerned can live with. Recent changes within the sport involving the teams have brought costs down compared with say five years ago, but this seems not to have included Bridgestone. I can perfectly understand why, as a company, they are aggrieved.

  20. Why do you guys care about costs?

    1. Because we care about the future of the sport.

      1. I don’t. If the teams and suppliers are put to Max’s budget (vomit re:Max) all is fair. I miss the glory days of the turbo years in the 80’s. Most of you were too young, or did not follow, back then. I, on the other hand, worked Montreal.

        Tyres. Engines. Chassis.

        Go for it, son ….

  21. What if you had 3 or 4 tyre manufactures and divide the races up between them. For example, Bridgestone supply to Bahrain, Michelin supply to Australia, Pirelli supply to Malaysia and so on.

    This would mean that all the teams are even but the tyre manufactures cut thier costs dramaticly.

    1. Who will develop a state of the art F1 tyre in return for 10 hours of TV exposure? Not to mention that at the end of the year there would be no tyre manufacturer champion… back to the drawing board I guess.

  22. A tyre war would be good for the racing, as it adds another variable to the car performances and allows teams to get more grip without creating more downforce.

    1. All that it actually adds is an element of uncertainty. Despite building the best car a team could be completey crippled because they signed the wrong tyre contract. Chances are that the ones that can afford to pay would get the perceived better contract, thereby, once again, putting a wedge between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.

  23. Single supplier with limited development allowed. Maybe we could allow teams/drivers change to whatever compound they like during the race? Or allow choice of any during the qualifying but must stick to only one compound in the race.

    If there had to be a supplier in F1 I would say ditch Bridgestone and bring back either Goodyear or Michelin.

  24. If we look a little further back in the sport competition between tyre companies also made for good racing. The involvement of Pirelli,Goodyear,Dunlop all added to the sport and while the conflict between Michelin and Bridgestone was not good we have to look further than that period.
    The funds now do not and would not allow the same development that was there previously. Tyre manufacturers want to be in F1 because of good publicity, now they are only mentioned in a negative manner. I want to see individuality in this sport not 13 teams with 4 or 5 engines that are all restricted to 18000rpm. F1 has always been about winners and losers, teams going from mid field to winning and back in the space of 2 or 3 years. Can we please have the sport back that had thoroughbred cars that won and not old reliable cart horses that always get there in the end.

    1. Well said.

      1. It wasn’t too long ago that almost the entire field had Cosworth power, but my recollection was that they still called it F1.

        1. They’d still call it F1 if they ran Lego tires or cars! That’s not the point here.

          1. The point is whether or not there needs to be more than one tyre manufacturer in F1.

            I can’t have been the only person during 2005 who found Luca di Montezemolo’s comments about that season being a ‘tyre championship’ extremely tiresome. Please, not again!

            And lets imagine that two tyre manufacturers enter F1 next season. Perhaps Michelin and Kumho for example. No prizes for guessing which tyre manufacturer and teams are going to gravitate towards one another. Or perhaps names from a hat would be more appropriate?

  25. Great article Keith! I’ve been wondering what will happen with the tyres for a while now, thank you for addressing this issue. A very interesting debate going on here, but I think I still agree with the article and to those of you against the tyre war. The tyres may be the biggest factor that effects performance, and I don’t want to see wins based on who can pay more.

    1. you certainly don’t see winners by looking a who’s spending less.

  26. If there is no competition, why would any manufacturer want to do F1? How can they differentiate themselves? Where is the urge to improve, to invent?
    Please no all-drivers-in-the-same-car in F1. We have Formula Renault, Formula Ford, A1GP and IRL for that.
    And who knows the world champions of these leagues?

    Exactly my point.

    1. A tire war is only a bad thing for people who like single make series, frankly I don’t. At LeMans there are 5 different manufacturers of tires and I’m sure that equates to at least 10 different specifications (and probably significantly more than that) considering that there are 4 different classes. I know the LeMans, et al budgets aren’t overly inflated/bloated like F1. They might be large, but not stupendously large. How can the ACO regs allow for largely free tire specs and still keep costs under control? It most likely comes down to limitations on testing and a lack of want to spend $100k/set of tires or some equally ridiculous cost. If you limit out how much testing teams can do and add require certain types of tire testing specfications (minimum durometer tests, limited numbers of tires, etc.), you should be able to apply a cap to the amount of development and cost that is incurred in ways that are related to the tires.

  27. So do the teams have to pay for the tires they receive? I thought that Bridgestone earns a lot of money for supplying tires for f1.

    1. Nope, they pay to supply the tyres that is why every car in the grid has a little bridgestone sticker on it. That is why they are leaving the sport.

  28. I would like to see Pirelli returns in 2011. But i think F1 will decide by Michelin tyres.

  29. Wow what a headache, agree completely that a tyre war would be bad, lap times would certainly be slashed and as a result the FIA would come down hard on all other areas of development.

    That being said, the only only real area of development left to teams is aerodynamics, and time and again we’ve seen the powers-that-be drag their heels in reducing downforce. They take 50% off the teams and within 12 months they’re lapping faster than before. Perhaps scarily increasing speeds brought on by tyre R&D would force their hand to deal with it conclusively.

    F1 needs a revamp, not necessarily anything drastic, but a few tweaks, and then be left alone. Instead of meandering tweaking every winter.

    1. Would more mechanical grip and reduced downforce be a bad thing?

      1. Nope, that’s the direction the sport needs to go if they want more overtaking, hence why I think they should at least experiment with bringing back active suspension and perhaps even ground effect.

        Though a Formula One car is probably the most difficult thing to attempt to lessen the turbulent wake of.

  30. I’ve always advocated a tyre war, but not the kind we saw in the early 2000s between Michelin and Bridgestone. Tyre suppliers should be restricted like engines, so they can only supply two or three teams. That way tyre suppliers can work closely with their partners to develop tyres to suit just a few cars, rather than the ridiculous “one-size-fits-all” garbage we have at the moment, where teams are forced to spend a significant part of the race on tyres that are often deliberately chosen to be unsuitable for the track. The only difficulty would be finding five or six tyre suppliers willing to commit to F1 at the same time.

    On the cost issue, the best way to resolve that is to restrict testing further. What’s the current limit – 15,000km? I would cut that back to 6,000km, which is about equivalent to the distance actually raced in your average F1 season. That way teams and their tyre suppliers have a limited amount of mileage to do all their development – it becomes about economy rather than spending your way to victory (as Ferrari and Bridgestone managed in the early 2000s). This would also deal with the complaints of those who suggest that a tyre war would add an uncontrolled variable in performance – it would be down to the teams, together with their tyre supplier, to build the most competitive package possible. So the responsibility for putting together the best car would still lie solely with the teams – as it should.

  31. I don’t want to see tyre war,but if Bridgestone leaves then Jean may contact with Michelin or Pirelli.

    1. bridgestone are leaving. Todd already tried to ring Michelin and Pirelly, He got only a voicemail messaging service, He left a message. A week later, still longing for a callback from either tyre manufacturer, Todd called Max and told him thanks for nothing.

  32. Talking about costs, I think this issue has been made too big. People seem to forget that Formula 1 is expensive, has always been expensive and will always be expensive. A more important issue should be wherefore the money is spend.

    1. Well said Pingguest. Never been told that Chelsea or Mancester Utd can’t buy a player because some 4th division team can’t do the same. It is time to get rid of lame teams who add nothing to the sport. The 107% rule was one of the best in the last 20 years. If you don’t have the cash/talent/know how you can’t play with the big boys. This is F1 we will soon be at a point when it is no longer the top of motorsport. Before I get hammered for saying this and the anti Ferrari brigade jump on I will just remind you all that they do not have (by far) the biggest budget. Can we please have Mclaren/Ferrari/Renault etc get on with building and racing F1 cars.

      1. Quite right, Toyota out-spent everyone some years but that didn’t correlate with out-performing everyone too.

        1. Ferrari must be up there in the real spending but yeah, on the whole, I agree.

      2. It cannot have escaped your notice that even the likes of Mercedes have said that they will only stay in F1 if costs are got under control, and what they take part in is relevant to the majority of people who watch it.

        It’s easy for Ferrari to go on about ‘keeping up appearances’ with its guaranteed annual $200 mil Philip Morris sponsorship, but the other teams aren’t likely to want to match that by using money from their own pockets.

  33. I think everyone is missing the basic point that f1 trye technology is not relevant to any other form of motorsport or transportation. The fixed size of side wall to wheel diameter mean that what ever is developed in f1 is not relevant to the real world. Not even buses or trucks have side walls in as large a ratio as f1 cars.
    Without relevance to the real world the commercial justification is as a branding exercise that is best served with a trye war which as keith points out is not what f1 needs.
    If we want trye manufacturers to be interested in serving f1 make it relevant to the real world
    Low profile tryes and performance benefits from tryes that save fuel hence weight.

  34. In my view, we shuld have more than 1 tyre supplier.
    If 2 different teams can use different engines, different gear boxes, different fuels, different electronic brands then wy cant they use different tyres. Its good to have a variety.

    Its just like using a ferrari engine instead of renault or vice versa. Both engines have their own attributes. The better engine will win and the beaten one will try hard to make mends( its just an example coz i know there is an engine freeze in place).

    In the same way, whichever manufacturer produces good rubber will be hailed.
    F1 needs more than 1 tyre supplier. THe onus is on the tyre manufaturers to produce good rubber.

    I propose that the cost of 1 tyre be fixed(whether it is produced by Bridgstone or MIchelin), let FIA do that. And after watching their performance, let F1 teams decide whihc tyre to go for.Just like Force India switched from Ferrari to Merc in 2009.

  35. I reckon a company seeking to increase its exposure, like Kumho, will take over.

  36. why did michelin pull out of f1

    1. The FIA decided to only allow one tyre manufacturer in F1. They put out a tender for a company to supply tyres from 2008-2010. Michelin chose not to submit a tender and pulled out after 2006, so Bridgestone effectively became the single tyre supplier from 2007.

  37. Bridgestone tests F1 tyres ahead of what could their their last season – TYPO :)

  38. Keith made his point very clearly, and just as clearly many people don’t seem to realize exactly what the result of any kind of a “tire war” would be.

    The tire translates all the other elements of car performance to the track, because of this any superiority of one make of tire over another, no matter how slight, becomes highly magnified.

    It is one thing to talk abstractly about the challenges of competition, but quite a different matter to watch race after race as one or two teams completely dominate the field, especially when the dominance is coming from something few fans even identify as being part of the car. (I don’t ever recall hearing fans loudly cheering the name of the winning tire after a race.)

    In 2009 Brawn completely dominated the first part of the season. Imagine a scenario where that continued for the entire season, and the key element providing the performance edge wasn’t even part of…”the car”.

    Keith is right, in a tire war, the first casualty would be close racing that reflected driver and “car” performance.

    1. Absolutely agree.

    2. “but quite a different matter to watch race after race as one or two teams completely dominate the field”

      uh, that sounds exactly like 2009 to me. Brawn vs. Red Bull.

      2008, McLaren vs. Ferrari.

      2007, same

      And we had a single tyre supplier during those seasons. So, I can’t see how a tyre war is any worse for the quality of the spectacle, than the overblown aero development (the attempts of which to curtail have failed). Aero is the real enemy, not concerns of mechanical grip.

    3. I drive a fast car and it doesn’t have a diffuser. I don’t identify a diffuser as an integral part of a car and i don’t think many F1 fans do. So if brawn dominated the first half of 2009 why not allow the possibility of let’s say Lotus dominating the second half of 2010 on michelins? At least i can buy a lotus street car and a set of michelin tyres if i gave a damn.

      1. Thank you for backing me up. And you raise a good point with the diffuser mention.

        The whole “diffuser” business was a total farce. I thought the whole point of the 2009 regulations was to reduce aero grip. But then early in 2009, the FIA, at a hearing allowed these double diffusers to stand and found them to be within the rules? What the hell was the point in that effort to change the regulations, if you’re going to allow lenient interpretations of them? These politicans running the sport are suffering from senile dementia.

        All the 2009 regulations have achieved, is to make the cars hideous (yes, they are still hideous, with those huge front wings.) And it didn’t stop one team cruising to the titles in 2009.

  39. There are people who enjoyed the tyre war?!? Which part of it – how it separated the field so we had in effect two championships? How no matter how good car you have the biggest performance differentiator was the tyres you had? How tyre manufacturers had favorite teams?

    Besides, understanding the science behind what makes an F1 tyre fast is such a scientific niche that the knowledge is limited to several dozen people. It brings no ”road revelance” as the knowledge gained through R&D of F1 tyres can’t be used in any other field.

    One tyre manufacturer is quite enough, they have exposure and branding on every race car, that should be enough for them.

    1. Again, absolutely agree.

    2. apparently not so cos the current one is leaving

  40. A tyre war would be a good thing, if you want to see a battle of innovation. Myself, I want to see a battle between drivers first and teams second, whereas at the moment it’s already the reverse, and it would become even more so were there to be a tyre war.

    It’s ironic that the one thing that would stop all this individual meddling with the sport – a budget cap – is the one thing that the FIA championed and the one thing the teams opposed. I hated the idea too, in the form the FIA presented it, but a high cap that came down over many seasons, and then only increased with inflation, could only be a good idea.

    How this would work in relation to the tyre issue is that a single tyre manufacturer could supply its tyres to teams and its transportation costs be paid for out of teams’ budgets, or better yet out of the TV money so a new team doesn’t have to worry about finding the cash for having tyres (the budget cap would then be lowered in this case). All the supplier would have to pay for is its staff, operating costs, and research, things they can determine themselves if they feel things are getting too pricey.

    Coupled with restrictions in aero but freedom in mechanical grip, with engine suppliers having their own budget cap too, we could have a way to keep costs down and the level of racing up.

    1. Absolutely agree.

    2. Good post. Not entirely clear for me regarding tyres tho, as currently Bridgestone foot all bills tyre related – from R&D, manufacture and distribution, as well as sponsoring teams for plastering their name on the cars – in exchange for the excellent brand exposure they get by association to F1. I take it what you meant in your third paragraph was in a hypothetical future under said budget cap, which btw is probably the way it’s going to be within a few years.
      I imagine most of the grid would prefer the status quo as regards tyres (especially as they’re getting a damn good deal of free tyres AND a little sponsorship $)and Bridgestone is broaching the idea that (even with the reduced allocation of tyres per gp weekend) costs are too high and the company alone should not be responsible for bearing all costs tyre-related.

    3. One thought about budget cap FIA style .

      Imagine any company operating on a 200mill budget suddenly being told by law as of next year you shall operate in under 50mill. Now imagine the consequences.

      No more product R&D. Same car as last year same position at the end of the championship.

      Massive staff layoffs. Payouts coming from next years (limited) budget.

      Ecclestone drafting the new concorde thingy bearing in mind that teams are legally bound to a 75% lower spending, therefore 75% less money prizes…

  41. Some say that with the tyre ware, the tyres became the most important differentiator and hence a standardization was necessary. I disagree: instead of going further with the standardization of the sport, the FIA should had chosen for freeing-up the entire regulations, resulting in other parts becoming more important.

    1. but then the focus of the competition switches from the drivers and the teams to the ”black magic” that nobody really understands. What is so great and exciting about tyres? They should be there to aid the battle between teams, not to be the focus of the battle.

      Just imagine – this season we could see 4 teams competing neck to neck for the top. Lets imagine theoretically that tyre wars are still active and that teams have different tyre suppliers. Lets say 2 teams are on one supplier and other 2 on the other one. 2 teams which would otherwise fight for the front would fight for scoring a few times in the season as one tyre supplier is faster and no matter how much the car is designed good it is no good because they lost in tyre gamble. And then of the 2 other teams one runs away with the championship due to ”special relationship” with tyre supplier.

      1. Tell me, what’s more special to the engine than to tyres?

  42. One season where you use as many tyres, gear boxes, engines and any aero you want without penalties would be fine!!

  43. A final reflection..

    I remember back in the days when Dunlap supplied all the tires for Grand Prix racing. You didn’t see any tire development as such, but that didn’t really impact the quality of the racing. The tires simply became a neutral entity, much more than is even the case today.

    And that was good in the sense that all the focus was on the design and development of the cars and most importantly the skill of the drivers.

    Oh, and a last comment: the other thing about having tires become such a huge determiner of car performance is the teams, as they are normally envisioned, don’t do the actual changing of the tire prophile, as it is an area outside their expertise.

    With the exception of a few chemical or mechanical engineers in our midst, I doubt anyone is that interested in the black magic of tire production.

  44. Tony Dodgins over at Autosport begs to differ that the sport may indeed need a tire war. Makes a good argument too. You do too though Keith. I think it would be good.

  45. how about if they had a different tyre supplier for every race. So the tyre supplier buys the rights to a circuit, all cars must run this tyre brand at this circuit. that would make things interesting…..

    Michelin – French GP (if it comes back)
    Yokohama – Japanese gp
    Dunlop – GBR GP
    and so on… dont really know any spanish or malaysian tyre manufacturers, would save companys money flying them around. And if there are gp’s at places that dont have good standart tyre manufacturers, then the bigger ones could buy the rights…..

    what do you think?

    1. would also test the car against a range of un tested quantities, and see which is truly a good all round car.

      Would help with manufacturers road car sales too as you dont only run a car on one brand, everyone picks a different one and the car handles differently…. so if you proved that your cars are good like this on a circuit, maybe it would translate down the ranks to the road cars.

    2. i think that i don’t know of any brazilian, spanish, EUROPEAN, belgian, chinese or malaysian tyre manufactures but if you can find some in google you are welcome to try and convince them to manufacture an F1-quality tyre in exchange of 2 hours of tv exposure

  46. Bring back Goodyear

  47. Absolutely some of the most egregious opinions I’ve seen aired on this site.

  48. Good tire war years (as defined by a driver points battle and/or a team points battle using different tire manufacturers):
    Pirelli tires were apparently just cheap tires cause only back markers and lesser midfield teams used them
    1982 (probably would have been won by Pironi he wouldn’t have taken himself out)
    1981 (teams could use multiple tire suppliers)

    (I’m stopping at 1980 because I stopped caring)

    As shown in 1980 (a dominate engine), 1984 (a phenomenal McLaren), 2001 (a dominate Ferrari), 2009 (a non tire war year that Button should have had wrapped up on both fronts by Hungary if he would have not decided to sleep out the rest of the season), etc., it’s not just tires that can make a season a one horse race, it can also be a vastly superior car + a vastly superior driver.

    Also, most of time when one tire make dominates it is because only the back markers use the “bad” tire (ex. 1997)

    Frankly, as far as I can tell, within most F1 seasons over the past 3 decades, tires are very rarely ever the determining factor. Just because some people don’t enjoy multi-manufacturer races doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good reason to have one. Frankly, I’m used to team sports so I find it *really* easy to root for a team. If the teams contribution is just designing a wing or two and ride heights and doing the occasional tire change and refuel + transportation, I stop rooting for the team and loose interest.

  49. We have several engine suppliers and it seems to work fine. Nobody is shouting “engine war”. Last year Red Bull (Renault) competed with Brawn GP (Mercedes), and Ferrari wasn’t far behind.

    Why not introduce more tyre manufacturers on similar terms? It doesn’t mean that we have to unlock the tyre specification, now does it?

  50. Yesterday, in a radio programme, Joan Villadelprat said that Hankook was in a good position to take the deal.

  51. I am not sure what would be good for F1.

    Surely it does not make sence to have tyre suppliers spending enormous amounts and compromise safety to get the fastest tyres.
    Moreover, F1 is not about having the best tires and winning, I would like to see differing characteristics, that are showing different strenghts in drivers at different times.

    On the other hand, testing limits the development anybody can do. A solution would also be the homologation of tyres for each year.

    I just came up with an idea. What if there were several suppliers, but each developed and delivered only 1 type. I.E. Michelin softs, Bridgestone Mediums, Firestone supersofts, Goodyear hards, Nokian full wets, etc.
    This way each can convince teams (and fans) by building the best tyre in a given range, without an outright battle and parallel developments.
    Even better would be, to oblige them to use tyres that have to be based on production versions, like the petrol they use (Shell V-Power racing, etc.).
    Everybody would be able use tyres they like for their road cars as well!

    What do you think of this?

  52. It should be a straight business arrangement: One tire supplier, two kinds of compounds, each team gets to design their car around whichever compound they choose, and can run that tire all race long. Throughout the season.

    Michelin is the best candidate to supply as they have prior history and data base.

  53. Let’s face it a dog of a road car won’t become a supercar based on the tyres I just bought. My old citroen zx will never outspeed my current nissan 350Z no matter what tyres they are using. So the argument of the tyre manufacturer winning a season for either team is dumb. Fast car are faster than slow cars no matter the shoes.

    1. If two cars are 2 tenths of a second apart then the shoes do matter. And your citroen/nissan don’t run at 300 kmph. So, pointless argument. Peace!

  54. i liked the good year days, but I’m sure the South Korean brands would love to take a stab at this and make themselves known as worthy Tyre manufacturers…

  55. It’s all very well to reduce the number of tyres teams can use over a gp weekend as long as the tyre quality improves to match the rule changes. I’m also not a fan and have not yet read a convincing argument to renew another tyre war…

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