Each day we edge closer to one decision F1 will not prevaricate over for very long.
The bids for the tyre contract to be the single supplier to Formula One between 2017-2019 are moving towards a final decision.
Both Michelin and Pirelli have satisfied the FIA’s requirements, though exactly what they are is not clear. Now the decision rests with Ecclestone as the ‘promoter’ of the sport.
The conditions of the bid to tender are set out in the current regulations agreed for 2017 and beyond, and the approach of Michelin and Pirelli has been quite different.
Speaking on behalf of the Italian tyre company, Paul Hembery confirms: “In terms of the technical aspects, we’ve said we’ll comply with the requirements of Formula 1.
“If they want to make changes to the regulations then we will give our maximum endeavours to follow them.
“We will follow the rules and comply with the decisions of the teams, promoter and the FIA”.
Yet Pirelli have increasingly failed to follow the guidelines agreed with the teams and Ecclestone, over the performance characteristics of the tyre. This is that races should predominantly be tyre restricted and that a target of two to three changes of rubber should be necessary for each driver.
Pirelli more or less delivered on this objective until the advent of the new V6 Turbo Hybrid engines, then unfortunately the average pit stops per race has slowly fallen and stands at just over 1.5 per car this season.
Michelin have taken a different approach, and believe that they can influence the current debate in Formula One over the kind of regulations for 2017.
The outlook for the French manufacturer is not good, because earlier this year Bernie Ecclestone described the Michelin approach as being to “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”.
Given that Pirelli sponsor the up coming Hungarian GP together with extensive race by race track side advertising – all of which swells the coffers of Bernie’s FOM – Michelin are up against it.
That said, the president of the FIA Jean Todt is said to favour Michelin’s approach, though without some kind of agreement between Todt and Ecclestone on other important matters, the impending decision from Bernie looks predictable.
It could though be that Ecclestone extracts big concessions from Todt over customer cars/teams or any number of other ideas he has failed to push through the strategy group. This then could open the door to Michelin being appointed as the next F1 tyre supplier.
F1 fans who long for flat out ‘pure’ racing may take heart from this possibility, though Pirelli have been modeling well this year what one stop Formula One races really look like.