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Pirelli submits bid to be sole supplier

Pirelli has submitted its bid to become Formula 1's sole supplier of tyres for 2011 to the FIA, AUTOSPORT has learned, with the Italian company adamant that a tyre war is not the right direction for the sport to head next season

Sources have confirmed that, following discussions with the teams and F1 chiefs, Pirelli has now lodged its plan with the FIA as it awaits news on whether it will beat Michelin and Cooper Avon to the deal.

On the same day that Michelin said it was keen for a tyre war in F1, Pirelli has reiterated that it would make sense on cost and safety grounds for there to be only a single tyre supplier for at least two more seasons.

Pirelli's racing manager Mario Isola told AUTOSPORT in the Barcelona paddock: "We prefer to be a sole supplier. The time is very short and so we prefer to be in the same situation that they are now."

AUTOSPORT understands that Pirelli would be willing to open up the prospect of a tyre war from 2013, which would give its engineers and teams a two-year transition period to make the move to the much talked-about 18-inch tyres.

It is believed that Michelin is already ready to consider delaying the introduction of 18-inch tyres for several years so teams do not face huge development costs in adapting their cars to totally new rubber for next season, while Pirelli is equally open to a compromise solution.

"It is an option," explained Isola. "I know the teams would prefer to stay on 13-inch tyres, at least in order to have a period to be able to develop the car to the 18-inch tyre. It is a big change and I can imagine they would have to work a lot on the mechanical aspects of the car.

"The 18-inch tyre is much more interesting for us because it is very close to a road tyre, compared to the 13-inch tyre which nobody uses at the moment. The smallest cars have 14 or 15-inches, so it is quite a different tyre from what we see usually.

"But it is also true that it will be a different tyre - you cannot imagine that there will be an F1 tyre that is close to a road tyre. We will collect all the requirements from the teams in order to have a clear picture to start development, if we are successful and get a contract."

Isola confirmed that Pirelli has spoken to F1 teams about what their requirements for 2011 were, and said he expected a 'hard' fight to beat Michelin and Cooper Avon.

"We have had some contacts with everybody, to try to better understand the situation now - what they require and what they expect because there is a lot of chat about 18-inches, or 13-inches, and the system to supply the tyres to the teams," he said. "We have tried to have a clear picture of the situation in order to prepare an offer that can satisfy all the different parties in this world. Then we will see.

"We know that there are some other tyre manufacturers that are interested in the same project, so I can imagine it will be a hard battle. But it is always hard in motorsport, not just in F1."

Isola's confirmation that Pirelli is willing to supply the whole field came after Michelin managing partner Didier Mariton told a shareholders meeting in Paris on Friday that his company wanted competition if it were to come back to F1.

"We're in talks with the (International Automobile) Federation and the other bodies that run Formula 1 and we told them that if several brands were allowed in the sport then Michelin... would be ready to think about it," Mariton was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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