IN THE RUNNING: Current Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has only one other bidder to worry about for the 2017 contract . Image: AFP
SPIELBERG, Austria - Current supplier Pirelli has tendered for the next three-year F1 tyre contract from 2017 with Michelin their only rivals, Pirelli's motorsport head Paul Hembery said on Friday (June 19).
"We did tender, yes, and there are two people that tendered," Hembery told reporters ahead of Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix (June 21).
"There are definitely only two bidders."
French tyremaker Michelin said this week they had tendered by the June 17 deadline but dependent on the sport switching to bigger and more durable 18" tyres.
The current wheel diameter is 13" but the FIA tender document said "this should not preclude an increase in diameter if the tyre manufacturer feels there may be advantages to the competitors by doing so."
Hembery said Pirelli's tender was in accordance with the current rules, although the Italian company was open to any suggestion.
"The rules say it's the current size and in 2017... it would be like an engine manufacturer turning up and saying they will only come if they can have a 2.5-litre V8 when the rules say it's a 1.6-litre V6 turbo," he said of the Michelin bid.
"We can only supply what the rules say you can supply. Our bid is to follow the rules."
F1 is working on rule changes for 2017 to make cars quicker, lighter and more aggressive and one of the proposals is for wider rear tyres.
Michelin withdrew from F1 in 2006, a year after a farcical US GP that went ahead with only six cars after all the Michelin-equipped teams pulled out on safety grounds.
The sport has had a sole supplier since then, with Bridgestone replaced by Pirelli in 2011.