Whilst it’s not currently on the cards, many Formula 1 drivers would support a return of a ‘tyre war’ to the sport following suggestions by Pirelli and Michelin that they would be happy to compete against one another.
This also follows recent comments from former world champion Jacques Villeneuve that a tyre war, where rather than having a single tyre supplier, two or more would compete with each other, would be “the best thing that could happen to F1”.
When asked by Grand Prix Times in Montreal whether they would support a tyre war, most current F1 drivers that were asked supported such a move at least in principle.
Felipe Massa, the only one of the six asked to have driven in F1 at the time of its last tyre war between Michelin and Bridgestone before it ended at the conclusion of the 2006 season said: “For sure [I would welcome a return], when we had the big fight between the tyre suppliers it was amazing the grip we had on the tyres…all the companies were giving the best they could.”
And most of the other drivers welcomed the prospect of tyres with more grip that would result from more than one manufacturer competing against each other.
Lewis Hamilton said: “Pushing technology…that’s naturally what the sport is about. When you have one manufacturer there’s no need to push the technology.”
Max Verstappen concurred: “It’s always good to go to the limit of something, and also with the tyres it’s exactly the same. Try to push each other forwards and improve the tyres again. I think that would be great to see again. We’ll see, maybe it happens one day.”
Sergio Perez added that “there is definitely room to improve the tyre that we have,” while Pastor Maldonado agreed that “it’s always fun to see competition everywhere in Formula 1”.
Nevertheless Maldonado and Daniil Kvyat had words of caution too.
“We need to think not only about the competition, also about the cost,” said the Lotus driver. “As everyone knows the budgets and the sponsors and the economic situation of Formula 1 now is not the best, not the greatest.”
Kvyat meanwhile was generally less supportive than his fellow drivers of a tyre war, including on the grounds that it might not be fair to some teams: “To be honest if we have one supplier that gives us just a very strong tyre with good grip, I think it’s fine,” he said.
“If you have two different suppliers and one does a much better job than the other, then probably there is disadvantage for some teams and advantage for another.”