Following a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Geneva today (23 June), F1's governing body has officially confirmed that Pirelli will become the top flight's sole tyre-supplier from 2011 on a three-year contract, taking over from present incumbent Bridgestone.
Pirelli had been embroiled in a battle with French rival Michelin to clinch the deal, but all the latest signs pointed to the Italian marque being given the nod, with Michelin making increasingly pessimistic noises and the preference seemingly being to plump for the cheaper option – if a less recently-tested one, given that Pirelli has not been involved at the highest level since 1991, whereas Michelin only left F1 four years ago.
In other decisions taken by the WMSC, the 107 per cent qualifying rule is to be re-instated from next season – barring 'exceptional circumstances...which may include setting a suitable lap time in a free practice session' – and a number of other changes have also been approved.
Key amongst them are an immediate amendment to the safety car regulations in the wake of the Michael Schumacher/Fernando Alonso last lap controversy in Monaco, and the stipulation that a new 'maximum time' will be set for drivers to return to the pits at the end of sessions, to avoid any further incidents like that which earned McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton a fine and a reprimand post-qualifying in Montreal last time out.
'With immediate effect, no car may overtake until it has passed the first safety car line for the first time when the safety car is returning to the pits,' a statement from the governing body reads. 'However, if the safety car is still deployed at the beginning of the last lap, or is deployed during the last lap, it will enter the pit-lane at the end of the lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.
'With immediate effect, any car being driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or which is deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers, will be reported to the stewards. This will apply whether any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the pit-lane.
'In order to ensure cars are not driven unnecessarily slowly on in-laps during qualifying or reconnaissance laps when the pit exit is opened for the race, drivers must stay below the maximum time set by the FIA between the safety car line after the pit exit and safety car line before the pit entry. The maximum time will be determined by the race director at each event prior to the first day of practice.'
On the technical side, F-ducts have been banned from 2011 whilst the proximity rear wing and the return of KERS have conversely been approved, with the confirmation that 'adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race and, for the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race, after the driver has completed two laps.
'The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the predetermined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated.'
Finally, and ostensibly in response to scandals such as 'Spygate' and 'Singapore-gate', it is 'under consideration' that 'specific licences' might be required by 'members of staff of competitors entered in the FIA World Championships', whilst Renault reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung has been granted a 'four-race probationary super-licence'.