The battle of the establishment against the new pretender was evident yesterday. Both Motorsport.com and Autosport posted ‘exclusive’ articles revealing Michelin were pitching to return as a tyre supplier to F1 in 2017.
Michelin’s motorsport boss Pascal Couasnon says, “One of the extremely important things is that in addition to providing a show with technology and tyres that correspond to something, we would like to get closer to everyday life.
“We want this technology that would be put in the tyres to reach the high-end road car products. It would be something,” according to Motorsport.com.
Decoded, that means durable tyres that deliver high performance grip.
The same Michelin representative tells Autosport they will persist with their proposal to deliver bulletproof tyres for Formula One. “The reasoning is we’ve been proposing ideas, talking about Formula 1 and that we are disappointed, especially where it is today tyre-wise.
Michelin are not happy with the current notion of tyres designed to ‘artificially’ degrade and Couasnon adds, “In making a proposal we are trying to change the situation a little. We believe the image of tyres in Formula 1 is not what we would like to do, or makes sense.
“The tyre used as an object you throw away after a few laps, or whatever, is not really something that is good for the tyre industry.
“We say there’s another way to ensure a good show, as we saw over the weekend (at Le Mans), with high-technology tyres lasting with good grip, and you can have a show.”
Of course Le Mans is a 24 hour race, and so tyres lasting for two hours still requires 12 changes of rubber during the race. The comparison is therefore null and void.
Michelin also are making it clear that there is a line in the sand regarding the wheel rim size. They want 18 inch wheel rims because this is more relevant to road cars.
“It’s clear that even if we go through the FIA process and they say: ‘You can get in but with the 13-inch’, then it won’t go further,” said Couasnon.
18-inch wheels would send the teams back to the drawing board as their current chassis and aero designs would be incompatible.
The FIA deadline for the F1 tyre tender to contract from 2017 expires today.
Michelin withdrew from F1 in 2006, because they refused to accept the single supplier concept Max Mosely had decided upon. However, the French tyre manufacturer has now changed their stance on this issue and is prepared to play ball again.
Jean Todt is believed to be in favour of Michelin as an F1 tyre supplier, but Bernie Ecclestone has recently been adamant that Michelin’s ideas are bad for Formula One.
Ecclestone recently commented, “[Michelin will]make a rock-hard tyre you could put on in January and take off in December because they don’t want to be in a position where they can be criticised”.
Couasnon’s rather desperate plea concludes, “We love the sport, but we believe there is something better than can be done today.
“We are not saying we are right, but at least we would like to contribute to the sport, and bring a little bit of innovation.”
Given the fact the teams do not want 18 inch tyres and neither does Bernie want Michelin as a supplier, the likely outcome appears to be that Pirelli will again be appointed as the F1 tyre supplier until 2019-20.