Mike Stevens | Nov 5, 2009

PIRELLI HAS RULED itself out of the running to replace Bridgestone as the official tyre supplier to Formula 1 after the Japanese manufacturer announced it would withdraw from the category at the end of 2010.

The Italian company has previously been involved in Formula 1 during three separate stints between 1950 and 1991, making 200 starts and winning 44 races.

Following Bridgestone’s departure, Pirelli was immediately mooted as a potential replacement, but a company spokesperson has ruled out an F1 return.

“Pirelli's previous position on F1 hasn't changed. Pirelli prefers to develop tyres for racing that will also be used on the road. Pirelli sponsors Superbike, World Rally Championship and GT2,” the spokesperson told Reuters.

Bridgestone joined Formula 1 in 1997 as a rival to Goodyear and then Michelin from 2001, establishing itself as the series’ premier tyre, guiding Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen to seven straight world driver’s championships.

Following Michelin’s withdrawal from F1 in 2006, Bridgestone remained as the sole supplier, albeit a year earlier than expected as a result of the French manufacturers unexpected exit from the category.

But despite the tyre maker’s success, Bridgestone decided not to renew its contract with Formula One Management, citing a determination to focus on alternative areas of development.

“The decision made by the board of directors comes after considerable and lengthy evaluations and has been based on the company's need to redirect its resources towards further intensive development of innovative technologies,” Bridgestone Motorsport director Hiroshi Yasukawa said.

“Our sincere appreciation is extended to Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management, the Formula 1 teams with whom it has been an honour to work alongside and the many F1 fans who have followed our activities over the past 13 years.”

With Pirelli now seemingly out of the running, Formula 1 organisers will look to previous suppliers Goodyear and Michelin, who fell out spectacularly with the FIA during its previous stint in the sport, to fill the void.

Follow Mike Stevens on Google+