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The massive challenges Bridgestone will face if it lands F1 deal



Bridgestone, which has been away from F1 for 15 years, has passed the technical review of the FIA ​​and obtained the F1 tire supplier qualification in the initial bidding stage.

The second phase is the commercial side, as the suppliers are also official partners of the F1 organization and pay a lot of fees which are ultimately shared with the teams. It’s not just about the headline amount, but how much track signage the deal involves and how many races get title sponsorship, all the way down to details like how many guest passes the company receives.

F1 has been able to engage in a bidding war, and the two companies have had to up the ante in an attempt to catch up or outdo the rivals.

It’s not just the best business deal, as Pat Symonds, F1’s chief technology officer, has insight too.

Teams have no say in the matter and can only express their views through informal conversations with F1 boss Stefano Domenicali or the FIA.

The current tender process, launched on March 20, covers the 2025, 2026 and 2027 seasons, with an option for 2028. F2 and F3 are part of the transaction.

bridgestone tires

bridgestone tires

Photograph: Andre Vor/Sutton Images

Those applying for bids must commit to meeting the detailed targets set out, which the FIA ​​states “are agreed through consultation with commercial rights holders and teams and are designed to ensure a broad scope of work, minimizing “. overheating, and has low degradation, while also creating the possibility of a change in strategy.”

The FIA ​​also made it clear that “the tender will also require potential suppliers to provide an environmental impact analysis of tires used in F1, and that the successful bidder will need to demonstrate best practice and innovation when considering the full life cycle of the tyres”. “

The last tender was in 2018, covering 2020-23, and Pirelli managed to beat out Hankook’s bid.

F1 had originally planned to switch to the new rules and 18-inch tires for the 2021 season, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the change until 2022.

As part of the fallout from the events of March 2021, Pirelli was granted an extension until 2024, allowing it to compete on the 18-inch tires on which it has invested heavily for at least three years.

When the end of 2024 ends, Pirelli faces competition this time not from South Korea, but from Japan.

Bridgestone’s credentials are unquestionable and many in the paddock have first-hand experience working with the company – not least Domenicali himself, who was a key player in Ferrari’s reign at the Italian team.

Ferrari F2004, Bridgestone tires

Ferrari F2004, Bridgestone tires

Photography: James Moy

Bridgestone’s last F1 career lasted 14 years. Launched in 1997, the company initially fought a two-year war with Goodyear. Subsequently, it became the sole supplier for two consecutive seasons in 1999 and 2000, until the arrival of Michelin in 2001, a more intense battle began.

In the six years since that fight, Bridgestone developed a close relationship with Ferrari that helped Michael Schumacher to a string of world titles. After Michelin withdrew, Bridgestone was again sole supplier between 2007 and 2010 before ceding the role to Pirelli in 2011.

Since then, it has been active in other forms of racing, most notably the Japanese Super GT series. Now the time is ripe for it to decide to return to F1.

On top of that, by 2026, the second year of the upcoming contract, the technical regulations will have changed dramatically, as will the requirements for the tires.

In other words, Bridgestone first has to develop tires for the current car to use in 2025, when downforce levels and loads will be slightly higher than they are today. Around the same time, it had to create something very different for 2026 before those cars actually came out.

With less than 20 months to go until the start of the 2025 season, Bridgestone will clearly face a daunting challenge if it does get the go-ahead. We don’t know, but maybe what the FIA ​​has done from the tender is how much work it has done. It can do a lot of R&D in factories and rigs before the product hits the right track.

Circuit testing is the tricky bit. If Bridgestone wins the tender in 2024, it will apparently take over the current in-season testing program at Pirelli, which is spread across 10 teams and written into FIA regulations. This will at least give all the teams a taste of Bridgestone’s services next year before racing with Bridgestone in 2025.

However, these test days are few and far between, and only from the next season onwards. Bridgestone needs more track time for its own private testing and must start this year, possibly within weeks of a tender decision.

That means having a test car, and to be representative it has to be the current team’s 2022 model. This can raise a host of questions.

Pedro de la Rosa, Pirelli Toyota TF109

Pedro de la Rosa, Pirelli Toyota TF109

Photography: Pirelli

When Pirelli started its F1 testing program it was lucky because Toyota closed its F1 operations at the end of the 2009 season and its cars are now redundant. It’s a convenient arrangement since the TF109 is a recent car, but it’s neutral since Toyota no longer competes.

However, after contributing to the development of the tires in 2011 and 2012, Toyota’s popularity has been greatly reduced. Downforce levels have changed, and one of the main downsides is that it’s from the refueling era. As such, it has a small fuel tank and cannot operate under typical heavy fuel loads.

Pirelli needed a newer alternative and that meant striking a deal with one of the teams. In March 2012, it was confirmed that the recently rebranded Lotus had agreed to offer the 2010 Renault R30, although the car had been modified to mimic the aerodynamic regulations of the time.

“It was very complicated,” recalls Pirelli’s Mario Isola. “The following year Toyota was no longer available and they ran out of parts. Obviously, we had to find a car for the championship.

“So at the time Renault was available. It wasn’t a top team. Obviously our choice was not to have a top team, not to give any top team an advantage. But at the time, we had a lot of talk about advantages. “

Inevitably, a team that might know more about Pirelli’s products will raise the eyebrows of rivals.

Pirelli was very moved and wrote a letter to the teams, emphasizing that the Renault car was driven by the Lotus team, and the test data was not passed on to the main team.

It also went out of its way to stress that much of the data was not processed by the Lotus, but passed directly to Pirelli via a separate infrared system run by a German company called Rennwerk, founded by former Toyota employees. .

The letter even includes a diagram showing the data flow and how Pirelli and Rennwerk control it, with Lotus only involved in running the essential parts of the car.

Most interestingly, the letter invites teams to send representatives to observe any tests. They were only allowed to speak to a Pirelli representative and were not allowed in the garage, but we made every effort to make them feel welcome – even providing wifi, workplace and free lunch!

F1 Pirelli Test: Jaime Alguersuari

F1 Pirelli Test: Jaime Alguersuari

Photography: Pirelli

However, the complaints about Lotus gaining the upper hand never went away, and the fact that Kimi Raikkonen was a regular on the podium in 2012 and 2013, even winning a few races, was a real boost. people.

Over the past decade, F1 has become more competitive and the stakes are arguably higher now, so it’s conceivable that the debate over what car to use and how Bridgestone’s testing program will work will be more intense than last time.

Also consider that when the Renault test car was launched, the teams had already been racing with Pirelli for a year.

This time, whichever team is involved will be involved from the very beginning of the initial development, so competitors will be more wary of possible advantages.

According to Isola, it will not be easy for Bridgestone to achieve this goal.

“If you only have one team testing for you, it’s quite normal that you develop something for that car,” he said. “The other point is that if you’re using a team’s car, it’s very difficult to convince a team to use a driver who’s not in their sphere of influence.

“Obviously they want a driver who is their driver. Whether he’s a racer, a test driver or whatever, but he has links to the team. It’s not an ideal situation.”

The test car is just one of many challenges. Not only did Bridgestone have to develop tires, it also had to speed up manufacturing and build the teams to operate on the track.

Pirelli tires and wheels outside the Alpine garage

Pirelli tires and wheels outside the Alpine garage

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

“It’s not going to be easy, not easy at all,” Isola said. “Don’t forget that you also develop wet tires, you have to develop intermediate tires, plus wind tunnel tires. There’s a pretty big list of activities.”

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Pirelli over the past few years, with teams and drivers sometimes complaining about its products. While drivers still complain about overheating in traffic, that has generally disappeared.

Also read:

Bridgestone’s association with the nostalgic V10 and V8 era adds a certain nostalgia to its bid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean better tires or better racing in 2025 and beyond. Change may sound attractive, but as one F1 insider in Austria puts it: “Be careful what you wish for.”

Perhaps the biggest determining factor is the introduction of new cars and power units in F1 in 2026, and with interest growing around the world, F1 cannot be taken lightly. Will the introduction of a new tire supplier in 2025 change too much?


Vandoorne to drive Aston Martin F1 car in Pirelli tyre test at Spa




Aston reserve driver Vandoorne will share driving duties with team principal Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will each drive a day for McLaren.

It will be the Belgian’s first time driving an active F1 car on track since December 2020 when he represented Mercedes in Abu Dhabi testing.

While the Spa test will focus on Pirelli’s no-carpet tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to sample the 2023 car, helping him correlate with Aston Martin’s simulator work.

If either Stroll or Fernando Alonso were unwell at any point for the rest of the season, his life would also be made easier.

The 31-year-old shared the Aston substitute with defending Formula Two champion Felipe Drugovich, and the two took turns on call.

Dubovic drove the AMR23 for two days during the Bahrain test in February, when Stroll was not present, and he had the opportunity to test drive the AMR23. Since then, the Brazilian has continued to rack up more miles in private testing of the 2021 car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

As well as his role at Aston, Vandoorne is one of McLaren’s backup drivers and his performance at Spa will also make it easier for him to step into the MCL60 should the need arise.

As well as giving him a general feel for downforce levels for 2023, the two cars share the Mercedes powerplant and thus have similar settings on their respective steering wheels.

Also read:

Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston team-mate Alonso.

He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. He finished 16th at the World Championships in both seasons, with a best finish of seventh.

He was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, but has since rebuilt his career in Formula E, winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes and serving as an F1 substitute.

He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a substitute for the Peugeot WEC team.

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McLaren “true contenders” for F1 best of the rest tag




McLaren has only scored one point after three rounds in 2023 as it struggles to find the car competitive.

But both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have seen plenty of upgrades in recent races, allowing the former to finish second in a row, while Piastri has finished in the top five in each of his past two races.

Despite being 136 points behind second-placed Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, Russell believes McLaren is a real threat for the remainder of the race behind leaders Red Bull.

“Obviously they’re a real contender for second fastest team,” Russell said of Woking.

“Oddly enough, Aston Martin was clearly second at the start of the year.

“And they don’t seem to be that competitive now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. McLaren has made huge progress.

“So without McLaren we’d be very, very happy with the progress we’ve made. Leading the midfield, widening the gap and closing in on Red Bull.

“McLaren has just fully embraced it. But that makes you optimistic that bigger strides are possible.

“I believe in my team. I think it gives us the confidence and optimism to take this step towards Red Bull.

“We’re not too focused on McLaren, Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. We’re trying to make that big step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

Russell fought his way back from 18th on the grid at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, jumping to sixth at the checkered flag after Mercedes strategists told him 11th was his favorite.

Russell was pleased with the final result, but felt it was “proof” of a “missed opportunity” for Hungary.

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“The strategy tells me that if we maximize everything, the P11 is the most realistic, the P7 is the most realistic,” Russell told Autosport.

“Sixth place without a safety car, without a VSC, it’s a really great result.

“But it also proved that this weekend could be a missed opportunity. I believe I could have gone there with Lewis yesterday, it’s one of my favorite circuits and the car always does well here.

“When you have two cars out there, fighting for second gives you more options, and Lewis is also very strong. If things turned out a little differently, he would also be P2.

“So as a missed opportunity we will learn from it. But the positive side is we are leading Aston and Ferrari.”

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Top speed, car sizes, race weekends and more compared




Formula 1 has relied on junior classes to develop the next generation of drivers, and its teams are eager to snag their brightest talent.

The ‘old’ Formula 2 car was a ruleset rather than its own separate entity, sometimes sharing the grid with F1, and later rule changes made the two cars separate championships.

The second class was renamed the F3000 in 1985 as the series switched to a naturally aspirated engine formula and extended the life of the earlier Cosworth DFV lineage. Throughout the life of the F3000, different engine and chassis suppliers came and went, with companies including Reynard, Lola, Ralt and March among them, all producing cars before the championship became a single specification.

When the F3000 championship began to fade due to declining team interest and declining track quality, the second level of racing was reborn in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone tried to bring the junior championship to F1’s bottom line and, along with Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, helped build the GP2 series.

GP2 became the FIA ​​Formula Two Championship in 2017, but many key hallmarks of GP2’s early series have stood the test of time. The GP3 series, a third-tier category designed to compete with the myriad Formula 3 championships around it, was added to the F1 Act in 2010 and became FIA ​​Formula 3 in 2019.

There are major differences in the way F2 is run compared to F1, there are subtle changes in form and there are big differences in the overall performance of the cars. The following are the key areas of comparison between F1 and F2.

F1 vs. F2 – key differences


Formula 1

Formula Two

top speed

220+ mph

208 mph

Minimum weight including driver

798 kg

788 kg




engine size

1.6 liter V6

3.4 liter V6

Approximate Power

1,000 horsepower

620 hp

car size

5.63m x 2m x 0.95m

5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m

tire size

18 inches

18 inches

game every weekend

One (two for sprint weekends)

Two (one sprint, one feature)

game length

305 km/190 miles

Sprint – 120 km/74.5 miles

Features – 170 km/105.6 miles






twenty two

2023 Pole Times – Red Bull Ring

1 point 04.391

1 meter 14,643

2023 Pole Times – Monaco

1 meter 11.365

1 meter 21.053

2023 Pole Times – Silverstone

1 meter 26.720

1 meter 39,832

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

What is the difference between F1 and F2 racing?

In F1, each team designs its own chassis according to a set of well-defined technical regulations laid down by the FIA. For the 2022 ruleset, the FIA ​​has updated the wording of the rules to better define the bounding box within which bodies can be developed and build a system more in line with the proliferation of available CAD products.

It features a range of safety systems such as a roll cage, halo and anti-intrusion panels mounted around the monocoque. There are also anti-collision structures on the side, front and rear of the car to minimize the impact on the driver in the car.

F2 is a single-spec series with all teams using the Dallara F2 2018 model. The car and driver must weigh a minimum of 788kg and feature F1 standard safety features such as the aforementioned crash structures and halos. Use only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland or sold by F2 promoters.

F2 cars use floor venturi tunnels, which F1 adopts in 2022, 40 years after banning ground-effect aerodynamics. These designs aren’t as extreme as those in F1, but they work on the same principle, and the car is also enhanced with front and rear wings to create downforce. Like F1, F2 cars are fitted with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates on the same parameters as its parent series.

While F1 cars typically reach speeds in excess of 220 mph during a race, with DRS switched on, an F2 car could theoretically hit 208 mph at full low downforce.

What is the difference between F1 and F2 tires?

Pirelli supplies all championships on the official F1 ladder, and F2 and F3 also use the Italian company’s rubber.

F2 started using 18-inch tires in 2020, two years before entering F1. F2 tires are slightly narrower than F1 tires and generally have less grip because of the naturally lower speeds of the junior series cars.

There are four dry-weather tire compounds for the F2: hard, medium, soft and supersoft – with the first three using the same white, yellow and red color coding as the F1. Extra soft textures are indicated by purple text on the side walls. Each car is supplied with five sets of dry weather tires per wheel, consisting of two of the prescribed compounds, with a set of “premium” tires to be returned after practice. Three sets of wet tires are also available – the F2 has no intermediate compound.

Tire blankets are banned in F2, meaning drivers must warm up their tires naturally. This often creates a larger offset during the pit stops, with drivers leaving the pits vulnerable to those who have already completed laps in the new group.

The “primary” and “option” compounds (harder tires are the main tires and softer tires are the options) must be used during featured races, and pit stops are required to replace them. Tire parking is allowed during a sprint, but not mandatory. Since only two dry compounds are used each weekend, Pirelli and F2 decide which tire to use before the weekend. There may be a single step in the compound (for example, medium and soft), or there may be a larger step for greater excursions (for example, medium and extra soft).

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

Photography: Sutton Images

What is the difference between F1 and F2 powertrains?

F1 has used a turbo-hybrid system since 2014, with a turbocharger and a motor-generator set on the rear axle to form a hybrid package. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter V6. By 2022, F1 engines run on E10 fuel, where 10% of the fuel composition consists of combustibles of biosourced origin.

The MGU-K in an F1 car can produce up to 160bhp for a total power output of around 1000bhp. Figures for F1’s current four powertrain manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Red Bull Powertrain) vary but are all believed to have efficiencies in excess of 50%.

F2’s single-spec powertrain is produced by French manufacturer Mecachrome, which briefly participated in F1 in 1998 and 1999, and took over Renault’s engine program. The Mecachrome unit was a 3.4-litre V6 engine, virtually the same one used in the F3, but with a modified turbocharger from Van der Lee. It produces around 620bhp and is driven by a six-speed Hewland gearbox.

To ensure fairness in powertrain supply, Mecachrome units are randomly assigned to teams, as there may be minor differences in overall power output.

F2 is currently being used as a test bed to assist F1 in developing more sustainable fuel, using Aramco-produced fuel with 55% of its content from sustainable bio-sources, with the aim of increasing this figure to 100% by 2026/27. The Saudi oil brand replaced longtime supplier Elf as the sole producer of the F2 fuel.

How much does F1 cost compared to F2?

In recent years, Formula 1 has been constrained by a cost cap of about $135 million through 2023, with some minor adjustments for inflation and other ancillary costs. The cost cap covers most development and operating costs, but excludes driver salaries, salaries of the team’s three highest-paid employees, travel costs and marketing expenses. As Red Bull found out in 2022, violating this cap carries a range of penalties depending on the extent of the overrun.

The bulk of this budget comes from the FIA’s prize money, investment and sponsorship mix. Some teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, are self-sufficient in terms of bonuses and sponsors and do not require direct input from their ownership structures.

F2 teams have much smaller budgets, and with the series’ fairly limited reach, teams will rarely start the season with a full sponsor portfolio ready to fund every race. As such, drivers should pay for their rides through their own sponsors or a driver academy.

Depending on the team, the budget of an F2 driver can vary from 2 million to 3 million euros, and can even exceed this budget to get a seat in a better team. To keep costs down, F2 limited the number of employees working on each car on race weekends and designed the cars to be relatively cheap. A team can buy a complete F2 car, without the engine, for around 500,000 euros.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

How do drivers get from F2 to F1?

To compete in F2, drivers must hold an A or B international FIA license. They cannot conduct private tests on F2 machines, only the group tests offered by the series. There are also restrictions on the single-seater cars that drivers can test in private, and if a driver is double-duty in another category, they must commit to racing in F2 in the event of any conflict.

Depending on a driver’s final standing at the end of the F2 season, they may receive Superlicense points to help qualify for F1. To obtain a super license to compete in F1, a driver needs to earn 40 points.

The distribution of Super License points is:

end of season position

SL points

first place


second place


third place


fourth place


the fifth place


sixth place


Number 7


number 8




No. 10


These can be applied cumulatively over the course of three seasons.

F1 VS F2 weekend format

F1 has been running in the same basic format for years, with FP1 and FP2 taking place on Fridays, each one hour long. FP3 races are also one hour long and take place on the Saturday before the three-stage qualifying format in place since 2006. F1 races must be at least 305 kilometers in length (excluding Monaco) and must not exceed two hours in duration, with a three-hour window if any red flags are raised.

However, sprint weekends are different and that changes for 2023. The only practice session kicked off with Friday’s race, followed by qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Sprint qualifying and the race are both held on Saturdays, with 2023 seeing six sprint weekends for added variety.

F2 has a practice session lasting 45 minutes on Friday, with a half-hour qualifying session later in the day. It’s effectively a time trial and drivers just need to maintain the fastest lap at the end of the race to secure pole for Sunday’s race.

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint race takes place on Saturday, using the same grid as qualifying, but with the top ten swapped. The number of laps “equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 120 km (100 km in Monaco)”, according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the score is finally dropped to eighth place, and the fastest lap points are awarded to the top 10 competitors.

The F2 weekend’s featured race “should be equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 170km (140km in Monaco, 160km in Budapest)”. It features mandatory pit stops where drivers must use both primary and optional compounds during the race. If a driver pits before completing the sixth lap, the mandatory stop does not count. This information is also not recorded if a driver stops under the Virtual Safety Car unless they are already in the pits when the VSC is triggered.

F2 attempted three weekend races in 2021, but the practice was generally unpopular and canceled for 2022 due to gaps left on the calendar. Prior to this, the main race was held on Saturday, and the starting position of the sprint race was determined by the results and the reversal of the top eight.

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