Why Is Pirelli The Only Tire Used In Formula 1?

Why Is Pirelli The Only Tire Used In Formula 1

Formula 1 racing as we know it was created in 1950 and has grown ever since. Five different companies provided tires in the first decade of the sport and nine total companies have supplied Formula 1 with millions of tires since. In 2007, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, or FIA for short, decided that a single company would supply tires for all racing teams in F1. In 2011, Pirelli took over as the sole tire provider for Formula 1 and is under contract to stay as the lone company through the 2024 season. Read on to learn why Pirelli became the sole tire provider for the sport.

New Regulations

New FIA regulations that were brought to Formula 1 following the 2006 season saw many tire companies end their bidding wars with teams. Prior to the new rules, tire companies could communicate directly with the car brands and teams in order to represent them. Many of the top teams could then afford to pay for the best tires, while other teams would have to settle for cheaper, lower-performing tires. 

Bridgestone became the sole tire provider for all Formula 1 teams in 2007 but was later replaced by Pirelli in 2011. As Ferrari began to separate itself as the top team in the early 2000s, F1 wanted a way to ensure that separation between teams occurred due to performance rather than money. Although there is only one company providing teams with tires, all tires are thoroughly tested, checked, and kept in perfect condition in order to ensure safety and fairness as teams no longer can pick their tires based on price tags.

Competitive Reasons

Using the same tire across the board ensures that all competitors are on equal footing, so that the races are won by the racers and not the wheels underneath them. When Pirelli was first introduced as the main manufacturer for tires in the sport, F1 told the company to intentionally make tires not last for a full race. This was done in order to incorporate more pit stops into races, making races more about the team rather than the equipment. 

Although all Formula 1 cars are created differently and the drivers have different skill levels, having equal tires allows for those other differences to be the main factors for races. New regulations that have come along since Pirelli took over have led to changes in the tires for all teams. Teams are provided with dry-weather tires, intermediate tires, and wet tires for races. All drivers are required to use at least two different compounds of tires assuming that the track is dry.