Paris — Pirelli Tyre and Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. have submitted bids to the Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA) to be the race tire supplier for Formula 1 racing for the 2020-23 seasons.
Separately, Michelin Motorsport said it considered submitting a bid but opted not to because certain aspects of the FIA's tender go against the firm's "principles of efficient resource management and respect for the technology of a sustainable tire."
The FIA earlier said it expects to decide as to the technical and safety merits of each bid by 14 Sept, at which point the bids will be submitted to the commercial rights holder of the F1 championship, which will conduct commercial negotiations with each approved bidder. Once a final decision has been made, the F1 Championship will submit a proposal for appointment by the FIA.
The tender offer calls for the continuation of a single-supplier relationship, as has been the case since 2007. Pirelli has been Formula 1's designated race tire supplier for the past eight seasons and has the contract through 2019.
The tender offer, disclosed earlier this summer, calls for the series to move to 18-inch rim diameter wheels and tires from the current 13-inch spec, starting with the 2021 season. The 13-inch spec will continue in place for the 2020 season.
The tender specifies sizes 270/18 front and 405/18 rear for the 2021-23 seasons, with overall outside diameters of between 700 and 720 millimetres.
Pirelli first proposed moving to 18-inch tires in 2014 and has tested prototypes on a number of occasions since.
The FIA's tender also calls for the next tire supplier to continue the practice of providing three different compound tires at each race as part of the series' drive for enhancing competition.
South Korea's Hankook, the world's seventh largest tire maker with 2017 tire sales of nearly $6 billion, has an active motorsports program involved in a number of top-level sports car and formula car championships, including the prestigious Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), FIA F3 European Championship and ADAC TCR Germany touring car series.
The DTM, in particular, offers competition similar to Formula 1, with sprint races and multiple compound offerings for cars with comparative acceleration times, sophisticated aerodynamics and mandatory tire changes—and 18-inch tire/wheel packages.
For its part, Michelin said it supports the change to 18-inch tires — a design Michelin uses for the Formula E championship for electric-powered single seaters — but it objected to the tender's provision to supply 13-inch tires for one season and the FIA's insistence on using tire degradation as a performance variable.
Even without Formula 1, Michelin will be more active in motorsports next year when it takes over the spec tire contract for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in North America. The tire maker also has existing deals to supply Formula E and MotoGP and is the primary supplier to the World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship.