Pirelli, the official tire supplier to the World Rally Championship, insists that it is not turning its back on the sport after deciding to submit a proposal to supply Formula 1 with tires starting next year.
The Italian company is coming to the end of a three-year deal to supply control tires to the WRC and support championships. Pirelli has submitted a bid for the next three-year WRC deal, which is currently being considered by the FIA, world motorsport's governing body. Pirelli has subsequently indicated its intention to bid for the F1 tire supply deal by May 9 – the date of the Spanish Grand Prix – following Bridgetone's decision to stand down as official supplier. However, a Pirelli spokesman confirmed that the company's aspirations in F1 did not necessarily spell an end to its involvement in rallying.
"We currently have no intention of leaving the WRC," he said. "We consider both projects entirely separately and evaluate them both on their individual values and benefits."
Pirelli has been the official supplier to the WRC since 2008, and has been involved in the sport since the series started in 1973. The company's last spell in F1 ended in 1991, with the last grand prix victory for Pirelli claimed by Nelson Piquet in a Benetton-Ford at the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix.