Pirelli SpA

Established by Giovanni Battista Pirelli in Milan in 1872, the Pirelli tire company has been involved in motor racing since the earliest days of the sport, having decided that the sport was the best way to develop and to market its products. The company's first major victory came in 1907 when Prince Scipione Borghese and Luigi Barzini won the Paris-Peking endurance event in an Itala.

Pirelli switched to Grand Prix racing in 1913, scoring its first win with George Boillot's Peugeot in the French GP at Amiens that year. Success in racing continued throughout the 1920s and 1930s with wins in all major forms of the sport. The company was an important player in early Grand Prix racing and after the World Championship was established in 1950. Pirelli-shod cars won the first four World Championships and added another in 1957. The company then withdrew from Grand Prix racing.

The company was taken over by Leopoldo Pirelli in 1965 and he masterminded the growth of the company. In the late 1970s Pirelli went into an alliance with the Dunlop company but this collapsed in 1982. Pirelli then bid for Firestone but lost out to Bridgestone. The onset of the recession and Pirelli's failed bid to win control of German company Continental caused the firm to struggle in the early 1990s but a cost-cutting program led by Marco Tronchetti Provera helped to pull the firm through the recession.

The company returned to Formula 1 between 1985 and 1987 and then again between 1989 and 1991 but without any major success and had to withdraw in 1991 because of lack of available funds.

In 1996 Leopoldo Pirelli stood down as head of the company and was replaced by Provera. Although the company now lags behind Bridgestone, Goodyear and Michelin in terms of tire sales it remains strong in the high-performance sectors of the market and is the world leader in cables.