Is the wait finally over?
Several sources within the Italian media are claiming that Pirelli looks set to be confirmed as Formula 1’s next tyre supplier for the 2011 season, replacing the outgoing Bridgestone.
The usually accurate Gazzetta dello Sport claims that the finishing touches are being applied to the contract that should hopefully be signed by the teams at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix – incidentally, the site of Pirelli’s last Grand Prix victory in its final season of F1 in 1991.
Despite a last-ditch attempt by rival Michelin to woo the affections of the teams with a meeting with team figures at the Turkish Grand Prix paddock, it seems that the three-year Pirelli deal – which features three compound specifications and identical support to all teams in exchange for a $1M stipend from each team – was the more attractive of the two options, by dint of the Milan-based company’s willingness to be the sole tyre supplier.
Michelin, by contrast, was more keen to reinvolve itself in F1 if there was scope for competition with a rival tyre supplier, potentially escalating a spending war none of the teams is keen to engage in during the current economic climate.
Pirelli’s tyres will continue, at least initially, to be supplied in the current 13-inch diameter specifications that exist in the current rules framework, but have a preference to move to a lower, 18-inch profile in the coming years.
The protracted delay in signing a tyre supply deal has caused panic within many of the teams, who have withheld starting to design their 2011 cars given the previous uncertainty over the tyre supply arrangements.