Would F1 benefit from multiple tire suppliers?

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Since entering the sport in 2011, Pirelli have enjoyed the luxury of being the only tire supplier in Formula One. With all teams on the same rubber, it certainly creates equality, but with tires the key component when deciding a strategy, could a second tire supplier be good for the sport?

Pirelli’s Formula One chief Paul Hembery has made his stance clear: Pirelli are in it alone, or not at all. He believes that if there was a second tire supplier, both companies would be spending millions of dollars to gain a slim advantage. The costs spiral for the suppliers, meaning that the teams will have to make up the difference, and with many outfits struggling to stay afloat, it could cause financial trouble.

The advantage of competition between two tire suppliers would be increased efficiency. Back in 2006 (the last season with multiple suppliers), Michelin and Bridgestone worked alongside Renault and Ferrari respectively on either side of a championship battle. As the season rolled on, the tires improved in quality race-by-race. Although Pirelli do have an incentive to produce high quality tires for the sport, this would be an even greater one with the presence of a second supplier.

The ban on refueling came into effect in 2010, placing a greater importance on the tires. Just as teams have the choice between engine suppliers, by being able to choose which tire supplier they work with, it could lead to a far closer working relationship, therefore improving the standard of racing as teams can give better feedback. Pirelli do however get this feedback from all eleven teams: surely this leads to a tire that is suited to the whole grid?

A second tire supplier would add another sporting twist to Formula One, but in the current economic climate, it would be unwise. Teams are struggling to stay in the sport, so being forced to pay an extra $5m for their tires would only make things tighter. The parity currently enjoyed by the teams does also stem from them all using the same tires. Ferrari forged a particularly strong partnership with Bridgestone in the early 2000s, which many believed went too far. Whilst Pirelli continue to deliver a good set of tires which spice up the racing (which they have done so far), it is hard to find a strong argument for bringing a second company into the fray. Regardless, it is certainly an option the FIA will be considering whilst rumors hang over Pirelli’s future.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.