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Pirelli face opposition: What a new F1 tyre supplier must prove

Formula 1's current tyre supplier Pirelli are believed to be facing challengers for the next supply contract. RacingNews365 sat down with the FIA to determine what the next contract winner needs to demonstrate.

The FIA announced that they have launched the tyre supplier tender for the 2025-2027 season, which will open the door for a new Formula 1 tyre manufacturer. Pirelli are obviously the front-runners for the contract, helped by having already designed the tyres that will be at least very similar to the tyres required for the 2025 season. RacingNews365 has been told that one other big manufacturer is keen on the position, with former supplier Bridgestone understood to have an interest in the supply contract. Two manufacturers with the most recent experience before Pirelli are Bridgestone and Michelin, whilst other names that could be mentioned are Hankook, who bid for the last tyre tender, and Continental. But what challenges are facing the manufacturer that secures the next tyre contract, RacingNews365 asked FIA Single Seater Director Nikolas Tombazis.

Two sets of F1 regulations in one contract

Pirelli have a developmental advantage over rival manufacturers by already having a working tyre design - albeit with the usual finetuning over the seasons - for year one of the new contract (2025). Formula 1 then goes straight into a new set of regulations for 2026, centred around the revised power unit specifications. Whilst the FIA noted that they intend to run tyres with "similar" dimensions in this new contract, the tyres will be subjected to an approximate 10% increase in torque from the new power units, which are focused on increased electrification. If a new supplier is to join the sport, they will need to nail the demands of the current Formula 1 cars, knowing full well that they will need to swiftly focus their efforts on 2026. Having supplier contracts which stagger major regulation changes could be seen as an advantage to Pirelli but, given its unintentional implementation during Covid, it's something which Tombazis insists the FIA want to move away from in the future. "Unfortunately the way things were brought around with the delay of the regulations because of Covid and other such parameters influence this situation," Tombazis exclusively told RacingNews365.com . "We are certainly putting in place sufficient flexibility so that we avoid it. It's not ideal situation and we would ideally want not to have this out of phase between the regulations and cars."

The increased environmental objectives

Whilst the FIA need to be convinced of the performance capabilities of the tyres, there is also an increased emphasis on the sustainability credentials of the manufacturer. The winner of the 2025-2027 contract must adhere to the FIA Environmental Strategy and obtain a 3-star rating in the FIA Environmental Accreditation at some point during their contract period. A new supplier must be able to prove their sustainability efforts within the organisation, detail their carbon footprint of the manufacturing process, provide freight estimates, endeavour to use recycled materials and detail their "sustainable end-of-life solutions" (e.g. recycling tyres/material). Whilst the FIA have provided guidelines on sustainability, they have left it up to the bidding manufacturers to propose how they will meet these criteria. "At the moment we have that as a general objective for the future. We clearly want to also preserve the strategic interests of tyres," commented Tombazis when asked about reducing tyre usage and sustainability goals. "In the tender, there are some requirements on things like recycling [capabilities], and so on of the tyres. "We certainly want to make sure that wets can be unmounted and remounted without getting damaged. We are asking, and it will be significant part of the evaluation process for the tyre suppliers, that tyre manufacturers give us a clearer view about what they're doing in terms of reducing the carbon footprint of their operation. "So we will leave it also to them to make proposals and we will have to evaluate."

Making a proposal that suits both the FIA and Liberty Media

The decision-making doesn't end with the FIA, the interested party will also need to appease Formula 1's commercial rights holder, Liberty Media. The FIA will go through all of the proposals and determine a shortlist of potential suppliers for the next tyre contract. They then put their shortlist forward to Liberty Media, who will then negotiate with whoever puts the best deal forward.

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