Pirelli return to F1 after 20-year absence

2011 F1 season

Pirelli's last win came at Montreal with Nelson Piquet in 1991

Pirelli's last win came at Montreal with Nelson Piquet in 1991

Pirelli have beaten off competition from Michelin to become the official F1 tyre supplier from 2011.

The FIA confirmed Pirelli have a three-year contract to supply tyres to Formula 1:

Pirelli has been selected as the single tyre supplier for the FIA Formula One World Championship for a period of three years, commencing in 2011. The sole supplier will undertake to strictly respect the sporting and technical regulations implemented by the FIA.

The Italian tyre manufacturer last supplied F1 teams in 1991. Tyrrell, Brabham, Dallara and Benetton used its products while the rest of the field were supplied by Goodyear.

Nelson Piquet scored the last win for a car on Pirelli tyres in the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix. He inherited the win when Nigel Mansell’s Williams broke down on the last lap.

Prior to that, Pirelli had gone five years without a win. But the company was a dominant force in the first years of Formula 1, with several drivers winning world championships on their tyres in the 1950s.

Read more: F1?s tyre wars (F1 in numbers)

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41 comments on Pirelli return to F1 after 20-year absence

  1. steph said on 23rd June 2010, 13:56

    And finally !

    Wonder if this will throw up a surprise like Renault 07.

    • GeeMac said on 23rd June 2010, 14:00

      HRT to win the Constructors Championship in 2011?

    • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 23rd June 2010, 14:01

      Likely just Ferrari to have a slight performance.

    • Todfod said on 23rd June 2010, 14:40

      I think its Renault 05

    • BasCB said on 23rd June 2010, 19:27

      Well, if you mean completely failing to adapt to the tyres it probably will be like Renault 07 ;-O

      Or maybe it will be like Renault 2 years earlier, all of a sudden being a great force.

      • Steph90 (@steph90) said on 24th June 2010, 8:47

        I meant 07 as prior to that there had been a tyre war which skewed things as they could focus on which team to develop with. One tyre supplier leaves the designers to solely to do the work and find the performance from the rubber. Although you’re all right by that performance can swing either way. I actually do hope we get a surprise. Sorry to cause the confusion there!

  2. GeeMac said on 23rd June 2010, 13:56

    At last we have clarity on the 2010 tyre supplier!

    Pirelli didn’t really have tto fight all that hard to fend of Michelin… seeing as Michelin didn’t want to be the sole supplier, despite Michelin being jean Todt’s first choice.

  3. zecks said on 23rd June 2010, 14:18

    It’s a real shame that they didn’t take the oportunity to change the tire specs though. The bigger brakes and lower unsprung weight would have resulted in some spectacular racing.

    • bosyber said on 23rd June 2010, 15:18

      But if they wanted that, they should have decided a couple of months earlier. I seem to recall that they postponed big changes to the tires until 2013, when the new engine rules will come into effect as well, so that they anyway have to rework the cars. That sounds like a much better idea than a rushed re-balancing.

      • BasCB said on 23rd June 2010, 19:29

        I also think it is good, that the change to 18″ discs will be from 2013 onward. As the different weight and reaction of the tyres will have great consequences for the gearbox (and suspension) as well it would be good to have enough time for that and do it when the gearboxes have to be seriously reworked for different engines anyway.

    • Hamish said on 23rd June 2010, 23:14

      I think the last thing we need mate is bigger brakes. These ones currently are ultra efficient making “out braking” basically a thing of the past. No longer do we have a brake pedal, its a brake button, controlled by the foot.

      • KNF said on 24th June 2010, 9:40

        The only way they can have bigger brakes is if they ban the use of carbon and ceramic brakes and revert to steel or high temperature alloy.

        Did anyone think of SLR-type airbrakes while reading the rules on adjustable rear wings?

        • BasCB said on 24th June 2010, 9:43

          the rulebook mentions “adjusable bodywork”, not only “rear wings” so air brakes might be an option, or moving engine covers, partly closing/opening air inlets etc. But who knows what the further details of this are.

  4. Sparkyj23 said on 23rd June 2010, 14:19

    3 Years seems like a REALLY short term contract considering they have zero relevant F1 data. Are they just a stop-gap you think?

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 23rd June 2010, 14:37

      I was thinking the same. Unless they’re looking at changing tyre specs in 3 years, so thought they’d only supply a contract until that time.

      • BasCB said on 23rd June 2010, 19:30

        they might just bring the same tyres they do for GP3 now? Or at least make those the basis of tyres developed according to the guidelines the teams drew up.

  5. Can waving to the crowed really be considered as breaking down?

  6. PJA said on 23rd June 2010, 15:38

    Finally it has been sorted. As Pirelli don’t have any recent F1 experience I wouldn’t be surprised if next year the tyres they produce aren’t as durable as the current Bridgestones, which could make for some entertaining races.

    Also I wonder if some teams will adapt to the new tyres better than others, as the drop off in performance from 2006 to 2007 for Renault is usually put down to them struggling with the Bridgestones.

    • sumedh said on 23rd June 2010, 17:17

      Exactly the point I was about to make.

      I think we can expect more Canada 2010s in 2011 now :) Great for F1.

      • LewisC said on 23rd June 2010, 18:56

        It may well go the other way – Pirelli REALLY won’t want to be associated with any safety problems, so may simply make all four compounds (relatively) hard to avoid delaminations and so on…. which would make it a bit dull.

        Hope not.

        • BasCB said on 23rd June 2010, 19:32

          The real question will be, weather there will be 4 compounds. It seems Bridgestone is now very much limiting places where the soft is used, so maybe it will just drop out and they will have the SuperSoft for qualli and a few quick race laps and then change to Medium or hard depending on the track and the cars tyre wear.

  7. Praveen Titus said on 23rd June 2010, 16:56

    So it seems that Michelin’s insistence on competition has lost them the deal. Otherwise Michelin would have been a much better option, having had recent F1 experience. Personally I am a bit disappointed for the following reason:

    I began watching F1 since 2000, and Ferrari-Bridgestone was always ingrained in my mind. Somehow in my subconscious mind it seemed to me that if Ferrari raced Michelins the world would turn upside down. I know they’ve used Michelins in the past, but the alliance of Schumacher-Ferrari-Bridgestone seemed so strong that it would never break. So when this tyre drama started, my mind cultivated the desire to see a Ferrari race with Michelin tyres. But alas that ain’t gonna happen.

    But as some of you have suggested, this would well be a stop-gap measure till after 2013. Michelin might be already planning an assault, and perhaps tyre competition will be revived?

    • BasCB said on 23rd June 2010, 19:34

      Michelin was reported to want more money for the deal but then have a deal making advertizing space available to bring in money for Bernie and the teams. This way the teams would have more FOM money coming their way, making the total the same as Pirelli, just with the biggest scorers getting more money from it than the backmarkers.

  8. zomtec said on 23rd June 2010, 16:58

    Will there be a change in wheel dimensions?

  9. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 23rd June 2010, 17:14

    Good to see the decision on the tyre supplier has been made. I suppose all of those criticising the FIA for taking the decision out of FOTA’s hands will now apologise!

    I would have liked to have seen teams able to decide individually rather than collectively on who would supply them with tyres – I think arbitrarily restricting the field to a single supplier is totally at odds with what F1 is supposed to be about – but if we have to have a single supplier it’s good to know who it’s going to be.

    • George (@george) said on 23rd June 2010, 18:21

      I’ll take a slice of that humble pie, it is still a very late decision but at least it got sorted quickly after the FIA stepped in.

      • BasCB said on 23rd June 2010, 19:35

        Yea, well the only thing the FIA had to do was just agree with the deal made between Bernie, FOTA and Pirelli almost a month ago. Todt held it up more than “stepping in” and solving it.

  10. Bullfrog said on 23rd June 2010, 20:39

    Any news on whether they’re scrapping the “you must use both types of tyre during the race” rule?

    Or haven’t they decided yet?

    • Daniel said on 24th June 2010, 10:09

      I really hope they get rid of that. I want to see different strategies more often. And with that current rule, the options are limited because 1 stop is effectively* mandated.

      *unless it rains.

      • That and the “Top 10 must start the race on the Q1 tyres” rule, which is even dumber than the “must use both compounds” rule.

  11. the Sri Lankan said on 23rd June 2010, 23:43

    im glad! i was hoping AVON would get the contract but its good to see a small company getting the vote over the big ones!

  12. wasiF1 said on 24th June 2010, 3:08

    The FIA could have choose Michelin ahead of Pirelli. I think as they supply tyres to WRC may have something to do with them getting the contract.

    I have heard that they will bring Soft, Medium & Hard compound tyres in races is it true.

    • BasCB said on 24th June 2010, 9:45

      Well, Todt reportedly tried to do that in january without even asking Bernie nor the teams. He overstepped his mark and Bernie brought in Avon-Cooper and then the teams started talking with everybody until they agreed on Pirelli.

  13. DGR-F1 said on 24th June 2010, 13:20

    Can anybody name a current racing series anywhere in the world using Pirelli tyres?

    • World Rally Championship, the World Superbike Championship, the Rolex Sports Car Series in North America, the Motocross World Championship and several other national championships for both cars and bikes.

    • Additionally, Pirelli have supplied GP3 this year and will also supply GP2 along with F1 from 2011.

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