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F1 And Pirelli: A Relationship That Lasts Since 2011

If you are a fan of Formula 1 (F1), you have probably seen that the formulas use Pirelli tyres exclusively – and has done so since 2011. There is no coincidence, but a legal agreement under which Pirelli is due to continue supplying tyres for the F1 industry until at least 2024.

The exclusivity agreement means that Pirelli will be the sole supplier of Formula One tyres, a deal that supposedly benefits both companies. What’s interesting is that Pirelli is not the only tyre supplier that F1 had worked with before, but is the current one which tyres we see fitted on all F1 cars.

Why Formula 1 (F1) Only Uses Pirelli Tyres?

As we mentioned before, it is part of the exclusivity agreement that Pirelli has with Fomula One. Both brands work together under a contract that is based on F1 regulations, stating that all teams are permitted to only use Pirelli tyres, meaning that they cannot use any other tyre brands. As the exclusive tyre producer for Formula One, Pirelli’s deal began in 2011 and has been extended through the 2023 season. The agreement is a testimony of the long-term commitment between both brands, and the Pirelli tyres won’t be going away quickly.

Who Produced F1 Tyres Before Pirelli?

Before 2011, Formula One had worked with different tyre manufacturers. Prior to Pirelli, F1 was contracted with the British tyre manufacturer Bridgestone, in an exclusive agreement that was valid for the previous four seasons. However, Prelli was an exclusive tyre supplier three times before (1950-1958, 1981-1987, 1989-1992).

On its return in 1981, Pirelli became a tyre provider to all Formula One teams for the first time in history. The brand’s willingness to produce many faster-degrading tyres than other manufacturers was the sole value proposition that F1 saw as advantageous at the time. What we can say about the Pirelli Formula 1 tyres is that they are made of great quality, allowing for exciting racing and equality between all teams. These models have a varying amount of wear, and their wear depends on the specific model as well as the outside conditions.

Could We See Different Tyre Manufacturers For F1?

Yes, it is likely that we see different tyre manufacturers being contracted in the future. One of the major names that was also active from 1977 to 1984 and 2001 to 2006 was Michelin, a premium tyre brand that was interested in returning to Formula One in 2020. However, the main problem for the Michelin tyres is that Formula One was still racing with 13-inch tyres in 2019, while Michelin proposed their return. Later that year, the brand claimed that they are not interested in producing F1 tyres only because it “has nothing to do with the real world.”

Among the other names interested in such an exclusivity agreement was Hankook, the South Korean tyre manufacturer that has replaced Michelin in the Formula-E segment, becoming the exclusive tyre manufacturer for the electric Formulas from 2022 onwards. So, it is possible that Pirelli and Hankook are in a tight race for a new F1 exclusivity agreement.

Summary

There is a reason why Formula One uses only one tyre manufacturer – it’s all part of the “tyre war” which would mean the top teams would get good tyres, while the lower ones would not have been able to afford the same ones. That is why F1 came with the smart rule introduction, allowing equal access to all teams to the same tyres and making the racing a lot closer and more transparent for F1 fans. The changes in the tyre regulations also came shortly after Ferrari’s dominance, aimed to reduce the gap between the leading team at the time and the other teams.