Pirelli has secured a three-year contract extension to remain as the sole tyre supplier for Formula 1, and the GP2 and GP3 feeder series’, until the end of 2016, the FIA has confirmed.
“The world motorsport’s governing body and Pirelli, in collaboration with the teams, have been working together to improve levels of safety and performance in Formula One, resulting in important changes to the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations regarding the testing of tyres, which will enable the Italian company to continue its Formula One single supply arrangements, in the best interests of the sport,” a statement from the Italian tyre company reads.
Its contract renewal has also seen a minor revision to the FIA Sporting Regulations for the coming season, as follows:
One of the twelve days of official pre-season testing will be dedicated exclusively to wet-tyre testing; and,
Each team will dedicate one of their eight scheduled days of in-season testing exclusively to tyre testing with Pirelli’s engineers
Pirelli was one of the major talking points in the 2013 Formula 1 season. In a bid to push the boundaries further in trying to improve the on-track action, the tyre maker went a step too far with its 2013 tyres
The tyres were so extreme that it forced the teams into ultra-conservative strategies, meaning many drivers had to run to targeted lap times and pit stop windows, rather than being able to genuinely race those around them all of the time.
The rubber suffered from extreme wear and a number of spectacular failures, most notably at the British Grand Prix, where the entire matter came to a head.
Red Bull Racing, in particular, waged a vigorous campaign to return to the more durable 2012-spec rubber – which Pirelli acceded to – and from that point the championship was effectively done and dusted: its lead driver Sebastian Vettel the final nine races on the trot and wrapped up the Drivers’ Championship with three races still to run.
The debacle had led many – including Pirelli itself – to question the tyre maker’s future in the sport, and this was further heightened with speculation that Michelin was waiting in the wings, keen to make a comeback after it quit the sport at the end of 2005.