The FIA has officially invited tire companies to lodge bids to become the official supplier of Formula 1 for the 2017 season upon the expiration of Pirelli’s contract with the sport.
The Italian tire manufacturer became the sole tire supplier back in 2011, and signed a contract extension last year up to the end of the 2016 season.
With an overhaul of the technical regulations planned for the 2017 season, a number of suppliers are thought to be considering a bid to either take over Pirelli’s commitments or join it in F1.
“Applications must be lodged by June 17 and candidates who meet the FIA’s technical and safety requirements will then be forwarded a month later for commercial negotiations and final consideration,” a statement from the FIA read.
“The FIA is considering introducing wider tires for 2017 as part of plans to make cars five to six seconds per lap quicker.
“It says it is also open to moving to a larger wheel diameter – currently 13 inches – if the tyre manufacturer feels there may be advantages to the competitors by doing so.”
Michelin motorsport director Pascal Couasnon confirmed earlier this month that the French company would be interested in returning to the sport in the event of a regulation change, and is likely to be one of the companies to put forward a tender.
Pirelli has already conducted extensive testing using wider rimmed tires, and even completed a show-run using 18-inch rims on a GP2 car in Monaco on Friday.
However, motorsport director Paul Hembery doubts that a tire war will come into place for the 2017 season and is confident that Pirelli will know its future in the sport in the coming months.
“At the moment the tender will be for a single supplier so 2017, I might be here or I might be sat on a boat having some champagne and watching it,” Hembery said. “Probably better to be sat on the boat actually.
“Yeah, it’s a phase that you go through with various championships so there would be a phase of where the FIA will evaluate the technical competences of people who want to supply and then there’s an aspect that is the important bit which is the commercial aspect with the promoter.
“So there’s a timetable set out and we will obviously know before the end of the year.”