Michelin last minute bid to supply F1 tyres appears doomed to fail


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.

11 responses to “Michelin last minute bid to supply F1 tyres appears doomed to fail

  1. what a fiasco. michelin have the right idea. 13 inch wheels are rubbish. you say that the comparison with le mans is null and void? tyres that last for two hours of punishing treatment with superb grip is what F1 needs therefore the le mans comparison is correct. this artificiality with pirelli is not what is needed. i refer you to the comment from mark webber, who is more than qualified to make an informed statement, ‘michelin tyres are for racing, pirelli is for show business’. says it all really.

    • I am all for race lasting tires or tyers If you like. It is all the same no stops. Fine I would be extremely happy for no stops. I do require passing and yes, it would be more enjoyable if it was don on track. So where does that lead us?

      Grip. We need grip. Grip without so much aero. Or can I ask how WEC LMP1 cars manage to run so tight. Part of me says it is apples aNed oranges. Mechlin actually custom manufactures tire compounds for each car. So here I am scratching my head wondering how to see passing like I witnessed at Silverstone by the WEC runners.

      I truly believe it has to come back to drivers. The recent podcast reminded me of the Trulli train. He was a solid drive, could qualify very well with a good setup. His race pace however was abysmal. Not entirely sure why no one could pass him, other than the set was solid into and out of corners and he made the track narrow.

      I am back to almost no ideas as to how to improve the actual racing on track. What I do know though, is that F1 should step back from the gimmicks. Drop DRS, forget refueling, no effing sprinklers and no division 2 on track please.

      I guess my best suggestion right now would have to be. Force the teams to fuel to the max, raise the amount of fuel to start with. (I get kg of fuel equals fractions of seconds) Make no reason for them to save their fuel or tires.

      Perhaps we can witness actual racing on track some day. I truly hope so.

      • Talking about the Trulli Train reminds me – I was recently catching up on Formula E where he now races. I can’t remember which round, Berlin I think, he qualified on pole and finished 19th. Track and cars which allow passing means what he did is no longer possible.

        Pit stops do add excitement to the racing but the fact they are necessary tells you a lot about the series. Hoping someone has a bad stop to give others a chance is not really the way racing should be.

        My ‘view’ for F1 would be tyres that can be pushed to a full race but ideally suit one stop, only say 4 people allowed to work on the car during the stop, make the cars far less aero dependent so they can follow each other and race properly, get rid of DRS as a result. Minimum start weight including fuel to make short-filling less lucrative.

  2. Random, but somewhat related. I always thought the 13″ rims were there to limit the brake rotor diameter.

  3. Thank God brake supply isn’t up to tenders. Imagine the end result.

    FOM would get 50 million. FIA look dumb and useless. The teams would race brakes specifically designed to rapidly deteriorate and force drivers into racing to deltas while being heavily instructed by the pit wall. The alternative being total brake failure after a dozen laps at full speed. And the solution to manufacture more random races wold be implement even weaker brakes to constantly keep the teams guessing.

    Change brakes for tyres and Pirelli and this is what we have.

  4. “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.” Unfortunately.

    • Careful what you wish for.
      It would doom the poor teams due to the extra costs involved with redesigning the cars completely.

      Don’t get Bernie though. Here’s the chance to nail the little teams and he’s against it.

      • Bernie is still pissed about Michelin’s Indy fiasco. That cost him a great deal in both cash and credibility. He may be a frail octogenarian, but he can carry a grudge like a Finn can carry a wife.

  5. I remember the teams commenting on how primitive the Pirelli tyres were when they first got them, also how many wet races have been run behind the safety car since Pirelli supplied the tyres? I don’t think the problem is that the tyre degrades, it’s just not that great a tyre, even if the driver just goes for it, he still can’t attack like they could on the old Bridgestone/Michelin tyres. I remember Button and Hamilton both commenting on this. If the drivers could attack, and be rewarded for pushing they’d might be more inclined to, but when you can only do it for 2 laps, you might as well trundle round.

    So we have an endurance race, where the drivers love a tyre that has massive grip and can be pushed to the limit, and we have F1, where the drivers say the tyres are slow and the drivers have to look after them after two laps. Seems a bit screwed up to me.

    We’ve now had a few f1 drivers who comment on how good the Michelin tyres are in comparison, but none the other way. May the problem isn’t what Pirelli have been asked to do, but how they’re doing it?

    In defence of Pirelli though, how on earth can you develop something if you can’t test it, of course they are going err on the side of caution.
    up to me.

    • I think you are overlooking the massive difference in the aerodynamics in the two types of racing. How many on track overtakes were there in LMP1?
      It is not a direct comparison WEC to F1.

  6. As far as I know Michelin would theoretically want back in F1, but they find the 13″ tires ridiculous. It’s not a purely esthetic issue or that they’re far from road cars, but they need to build a tire wall that takes the kind of forces and is the height imposed by the 13″ rim. Designing such a tire wall is something that demands quite a bit of research and can only be exploited from a marketing perspective, there’s nothing useful to learn for anything else, but F1.

    There are two issues then with an F1 tire: wall technology that is imposed by the size of the rim, and contact surface which is something that can be played with to have a certain grip, operating window (temp wise) and rate of decay. As far as I understand it with 17 inch’ers M can just adapt their racing tire wall tech and then they would discuss on tuning the contact surface compounds – but they are separate and completely independent discussions.

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