Despite speculation seeming to indicate that the choice of tyre suppliers for 2011 would be narrowed to a decision between two companies – Michelin and Cooper Avon – Italian tyre maker Pirelli has confirmed it will now make the contest a three-horse race.
We reported last week that, following a meeting of shareholders, Pirelli Chairman Marco Tronchetti hinted that his company might be interested in a tyre supply arrangement, subject to certain conditions being met. Tronchetti said that Pirelli would “look into [F1] with greater attention", provided that the permitted wheel diameter was increased to 18 inches and if a tyre supply arrangement made financial sense for the company.
Following his comments, the F1 teams’ group FOTA met on Wednesday and it seemed that the teams would consider the offers made by Michelin and Cooper Avon, with Bridgestone’s unexpected announcement that it would cease being F1’s sole tyre supplier at the end of the season.
However, Pirelli has been quick to issue a statement overnight that it would "present … an offer for the supply of tyres to all the teams in the F1 championship” at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Pirelli hasn’t participated in F1 as a tyre supplier since 1991, when it competed against Goodyear in the tyre war days of the late 1980s and early 1990s.