Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has admitted that he was delighted to hear of Pirelli's appointment as Formula One's new tyre supplier, as the deal allows the sport a modicum of continuity when Bridgestone withdraws at the end of the season.
Although brand rival Michelin insists that it never lodged a bid to take over the supply from 2011 [see story here
], rumours before the belated announcement was made suggested that the French company wanted to move F1 away from its familiar 13-inch wheels in order to provide similar 18-inch tyres to those if supplies to sportscar racing. Pirelli, however, made it a condition of its bid that, for the time being at least, 13-inch rims would remain the norm, along with the same six-tyre range and race-by-race quantities as provided by Bridgestone.
“I think it's fantastic news that Pirelli are becoming the Formula 1 tyre supplier,” Horner told reporters as the European GP weekend opened in Valencia, “I think they are a quality company, a great brand to have in F1.
“And I think, most importantly, they haven't dictated that the regulations be changed, so will supply under very similar terms to what we currently enjoy with Bridgestone, who have done a great job over the last few years. I think it is positive for F1 and it will be very interesting to work with them.”
Although initially happy that there will be little technical change as the supply is handed over to Pirelli - with the length of time taken to reach an agreement for 2011 having already delayed design work on next year's cars - Horner is keen to see the teams work closely with the Italian company to come up with a range of compounds that will help recreate the events of the recent Canadian Grand Prix, where tyre wear led to some exciting racing. The teams have attempted to speed up the preparations for 2011 by outlining their preferred tyre requirements to all the companies understood to be chasing the F1 deal, with as close a match to the current Bridgestones being the chosen route.
“I think there is a real opportunity with the new tyre supplier to potentially do something a bit different that could encourage more races like Montreal, which I think was a fascinating race,” Horner confirmed, "I think it's something that needs to be carefully looked at because we are taking away double diffusers because the downforce levels of the car are way beyond what was initially envisaged. It was probably a mistake to allow the double diffuser in the first place...”