Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost believes that a possible tire war between multiple suppliers in Formula 1 would only do damage to the sport and benefit the very biggest works teams.
Following the F1 Strategy Group’s approval of widespread changes to the sport for the 2017 season, Michelin has expressed an interest in returning alongside current supplier Pirelli.
There has been just one tire supplier in F1 since 2007 following Michelin’s exit, with Pirelli picking up the contract in 2011 from Japanese company Bridgestone.
Although a tire war has been supported by some in the belief that competition will improve the quality of the compounds produced and make F1 more road-relevant, many have raised concerns about the costs involved for the suppliers and the teams.
However, Tost believes that it will also kill off a lot of competition in F1 as only the biggest teams would get the best quality of tires from a supplier.
“I just hope that no tire war will come, that means no other tyre manufacturer, because this means that two teams will get the good tires and the rest will just get crap,” Tost said.
“Because like it was before, when Michelin was in, it was Renault therefore [Fernando] Alonso has good memories and Bridgestone with Ferrari, therefore Michael [Schumacher] was so successful.
“If this comes back, it’s the same story: the two tire manufacturers, two teams which get good tires; three tire manufacturers three teams and the rest just get what the others don’t like.
“That means the complete competition would drive in a completely different direction. Then we would have, after now the power unit Formula 1, we would have the tyre Formula 1. Once the power units are stabilised, we open the next problem.”
His thoughts were echoed in Monaco by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who said that having just one supplier for all of the teams in F1 promoted equality and therefore competition.
“I think Franz summed it up splendidly, that one make tire is equality for all of the teams,” Horner said. “I think that in the times of tire wars then of course effort does have to go behind your leading charge and it will drive costs up immeasurably as you have to develop your car around a specific tire.
“I think it’s been one of the successes in having a sole tire and I think that that’s one of the reasons for example that Red Bull has been able to achieve the success that it’s been able to achieve as an independent team.
“We perhaps would never have been able to enjoy [success] in the event that there was open competition with tire manufacturers aligned to automotive manufacturers, which is of course is where their core income comes from.”