May 22 (GMM/Inautonews.com) F1’s governing body has launched the official tender process for the selection of the tyre supplier in 2017 and beyond.
Often controversially, Pirelli has been the sole supplier since 2011, but in recent days the former F1 manufacturer Michelin admitted it is considering a return.
Both Pirelli and Michelin appear to back moves to introduce low-profile, 18-inch tyres for 2017. Former F1 driver and well-known British broadcaster Martin Brundle will test Pirelli’s prototype version on a GP2 car in Monaco.
The FIA confirmed it does not “preclude an increase in diameter” for 2017, while the introduction of wider tyres is also likely.
“We’re looking forward to demonstrating a new GP2 tyre concept tomorrow,” said Pirelli’s Paul Hembery, “which underlines our capacity to produce a variety of different tyre solutions to meet any request.”
Regarding the 2017 tender, Pirelli appears to be fighting Michelin at present, but that does not mean they will go wheel-to-wheel in a ‘tyre war’.
“At the moment,” said Hembery in Monaco, “the tender will be for a single supplier.
“So (regarding) 2017, I might be here or I might be sat on a boat having some champagne and watching it.
“It (the tender) is a phase where the FIA will evaluate the technical competences of people who want to supply and then there’s the important bit which is the commercial aspect with the promoter.
“So there’s a timetable set out and we will obviously know before the end of the year,” Hembery added.
Before Pirelli’s current contract runs out, the Italian marque now appears open to giving teams ‘free choice’ in 2016 regarding the selection of compounds for each race weekend.
Earlier, Hembery was opposed to the idea that was first proposed by Force India.
But he said in Monaco: “We’re working in that regard with Charlie (Whiting) and the FIA to come up with a proposal that gives us a level of safety in the choices made and also to provide something interesting for the fans.”
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims the current idea is for Pirelli to expand its range from four to six compounds, giving it the flexibility to ‘block’ the use of the most inappropriate tyres at certain races.
It means that, for example at Monza, teams would not be able to choose the ‘super soft’, for safety reasons.
Hembery said: “The teams would still have enough choice to go for a more aggressive version.”