PARIS—The Federation International de l'Automobile has extended Pirelli Motorsports' exclusive Formula 1 race tire supply contract one additional year, through 2024, saying it is "in the best interests of all relevant stakeholders."
Pirelli's existing contract, signed in 2018, covered the 2019-2023 seasons and included the provision to convert Formula 1's tire size specification to an 18-inch rim diameter from the decades-old 13-inch specification, starting with the 2021 season.
That timeline was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the 2020 F1 season and obliged the FIA and Formula 1 to implement emergency measures that included the cancellation of tire development tests last year and the postponement of planned new technical regulations—which included the 18-inch tire specificiation—to 2022 from 2021.
As a result, the series will continue to use 13-inch tires during the 2021 season and adopt the 18-inch spec in 2022.
"The pandemic caused disruption across the world, and Formula 1 was not immune from that," F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali said.
"We therefore took the necessary measures last year to defer the regulations by one year to 2022. We are very proud of our partnership with Pirelli and grateful to them for their constructive approach to this timing change.
"Pirelli are very conscious of strategic role that the tires have in F1, and we know that they are working very hard to make sure that their products will represent the best balance between performance and durability in the new technical context."
FIA President Jean Todt said: "I want to thank Formula 1 and Pirelli for their collaboration, flexibility and commitment to our sport during this most difficult period. COVID-19 has presented us with significant challenges across all aspects of our businesses, but by working together in a sensible, pragmatic way, we have been able to ensure that the long-term stability and strength of Formula 1 remains undiminished.
"The shift to 18" wheels and tires will certainly provide a more exciting image for Formula 1 cars, but it has also presented a significant technical challenge, requiring a lot of investment and development on behalf of Pirelli as they continue to deliver tires that will perform at the highest level. In light of this, and the necessary postponement of the new regulations as a result of the pandemic, it is only logical to extend the supply of tires accordingly."
Marco Tronchetti Provera, Pirelli CEO and executive vice chairman, added: "We're obviously pleased to have reached this agreement that will extend our presence at the pinnacle of world motorsport until 2024.
"Motorsport forms part of our DNA and Formula 1 represents an open-air laboratory that allows us to apply the know-how gained on (the)track into our road car tires, starting off with the ultra-high-performance range that equips the most prestigious cars in the world."
Pirelli has scheduled 10 two-day testing sessions with F1 teams throughout 2020 for the 18-inch tires, including three dedicated to wet-weather conditions. Four sessions will be stand-alone tests, while the other six will take place immediately after a grand prix race weekend.