Pirelli will have a competitor for the F1 sole tyre supply as Hankook have confirmed they have applied for the contract.
The FIA are currently on the lookout for a tyre supplier that can fulfill the contract that ends at the end of the 2019 season. While Pirelli have already confirmed that they intend on staying, should their application be successful, this is on the basis that the commercial contract remains as is.
However, there had been suggestions that other tyre manufacturers were interested in the contract prior to the end of the application process. Hankook, the South Korean tyre manufacturer, have confirmed to FormulaSpy that they have submitted a tender and that the FIA have accepted it as passing the initial technical and safety requirements. Pirelli’s & Hankook’s applications will now be forwarded to the commercial rights holder for consideration and negotiation.
However, there is a rather large stumbling block which will need addressing. The tyre supply agreement covers the years 2020 – 2023. While the 2020 rules won’t see much change from the current tyre regulations, 2021 sees a switch to 18 inch wheels from the current 13 – meaning that whatever supplier is chosen will have to make one year of the ‘old’ tyres before the change to the much larger ones. This will be a major stumbling block for Hankook while Pirelli, as the current supplier, would logically have far less difficulty in meeting these requirements.