While the prospect of a 'tyre war' in F1 appears to be on hold until at least the turn of the decade, there are some in the paddock who would welcome the chance to be on one side or the other.
Fernando Alonso sparked controversy in the pit-lane when he suggested that a return to tyre competition would be a sure what to liven the sport up but, while his suggestion was eagerly picked up on by fellow former champion Jacques Villeneuve on the eve of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, those holding the purse strings are less enthusiastic, with the cost of development and the possibility of ending up on the wrong side of the divide uppermost in teams' minds.
The drivers, however, tend not to think with their wallets and, with one eye on improved performance and traction, it was not surprising to see more in favour of 'war'.
“I never really got to drive when there was a tyre war, but I can only imagine that, when the manufacturers are pushing, they're pushing technology, which is what the sport is about,” reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton opined, “When you have just one manufacturer, there is no need to push technology…
“All the teams are pushing each other, wanting to get faster, to get better, to try and improve and naturally that is what would happen if you had a tyre war.”
Rookie Max Verstappen has even less experience of the potential gains that duelling tyre manufacturers might be able to bring to the table, but said that he would be keen to see the outcome for himself.
“I think that it is always good to go to the limit of something – and it's the same with tyres, trying to push each other forward to improve,” he noted, “I think that would be great to see again and maybe it will happen one day…”
Force India's Sergio Perez admitted that competition between suppliers 'would definitely improve the tyres that we have right now' and would cast his vote for the move, but others were more appreciative of the financial penalties the reintroduction of a tyre war might have.
“It's always fun to see competition everywhere in F1, not only from the teams and drivers, but from the suppliers and the tyres,” Pastor Maldonado said, “However, it may be great fun, but we need to think not only about the competition, but also the cost aspect as everyone knows about the budgets, the sponsors and the economic situation in F1. It is not the greatest…”
Second-year driver Daniil Kvyat was the only one of the sextet to vote in favour of maintaining the status quo
“If we have one supplier that gives us a very strong tyre with good grip, I think it's fine because, if you have two suppliers and one does a much better job, then there will be an advantage for one team and disadvantage for another,” he noted, “It can always go one way or another…”
The final word should probably go to Williams veteran Felipe Massa, the only member of the press conference panel to have driven through the Goodyear-Bridgestone and Bridgestone-Michelin battles that ended with imposition of a sole contract in 2007.
“When we had the big fight between the tyre suppliers, it was amazing the grip we had,” Massa reflected, “The companies were giving the best they could but, when you only have one company, whatever they are doing is the same for everybody, for every driver, so for sure they can spend less money on that.
“From the driving point of view, it was better before but, from the money point of view, I think it may have been too
expensive, especially for now, they way that F1 is going. I'm not too sure it is going to happen again.”
It certainly won't happen until 2020 at the earliest, with the latest FIA tender document continuing to call for a single supplier over the next five years. Applications for the period between 2017-19, after Pirelli's current deal ends next year, has already attracted the attention of the Italian supplier, but there are rumours that Michelin may also be interested in returning, particularly if wheel sizes can be increased and tyre compounds rethought.
“We want to use racing as a laboratory and take the lessons from the track and apply them to road cars,” motorsport boss Pascal Couasnon told Crash.net
ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, “We have been testing big tyres, 18 inches, with shorter side walls because they are closer to what you have on performance cars on the road. And there is no benefit running unpredictable tyres that last only 7-10 laps - we want tyres that teams can potentially reuse during the race. The best of the best - this is what we would propose to be used in F1.”