F1 opens tender process for next tire supplier from 2020-23

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HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) — Formula One has opened the tender process for its next tire supplier from 2020-23, when it will move toward narrower front tires and scrap warming blankets.

The current model of tires would be kept in place for 2020, motorsport’s governing body FIA said on its website, with proposed changes only effective from 2021. Potential suppliers have until Aug. 31 to bid, after which F1 owners Liberty will need their choice approved by FIA.

Pirelli is the current tire supplier, meaning any other would have to build a new tire for one season only – 2020 – and then incur the cost of designing another. This makes a new supplier, such as Michelin, unlikely unless Pirelli unexpectedly pulls out of the series.

“That is a big challenge for any new tire manufacturer to come in and do,” Force India’s technical director Andrew Green said. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

From 2021 onward, F1 wants to remove tire blankets. The thick blankets are used to heat tires shortly before the cars go onto the track, in order to improve grip. Scrapping these blankets has been discussed in previous years, but never approved due to safety concerns.

But the FIA is confident blankets will no longer be needed because future F1 tires “should provide safe performance” when cars are leaving the pit lane onto the track. Tires for racing in wet conditions – and intermediate tires – should also be capable of running without pre-heating.

“Plenty of other racing series do it so I don’t see any reason why we can’t in Formula One,” Green said when asked about removing blankets. “If those specifications for the tire allow us to get around some of the limitations that we face in operating the tires at the minute – pressures, cambers, all those things – then I think that’s all to the good.”

In recent years, tire management – when drivers nurse their tires during a race through fear of degradation – has been unpopular.

Tire strategy and data-analyzed tire control have therefore gained too much importance, at the expense of unpredictability and suspense. This has led to frustration from fans wanting more excitement and less race management.

As from the 2021, the FIA said reassuringly, a tire should be able to recover more quickly from degradation “once a period of aggressive driving or close following (behind another car) ceases.”

FIA also hopes re-modelled tires will “encourage the greatest variety in the racing spectacle.”

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”