Michelin not interested in ‘show’-focused F1

Thu, 20 April 2023, 09:00

Apr.20 (GMM) Michelin has ruled out bidding to succeed Pirelli as Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier.

Pirelli – the sport’s sole supplier since 2011 – has the exclusive contract until 2024, but the governing FIA has just launched the next tender to cover 2025, 2026, 2027 and possibly 2028.

“Obviously the decision is not in our hands,” said Pirelli’s F1 boss Mario Isola, “but we are happy with our presence in Formula 1 and we want to continue.”

However, according to the publication The Drive, French company Michelin will not be joining the bidding process.

Between 2001 and 2006, Michelin and Bridgestone competed in Formula 1 in the most recent ‘tyre war’ era – with Bridgestone becoming sole supplier under new rules from 2007.

And Michelin Group CEO Florent Menegaux says the Clermont-Ferrand based tyre maker is not interested in returning to Formula 1 when the rules are most focused on ‘the show’.

“The question is, how do we leverage technology to have a good show?” he said. “And that’s where F1 comes into play, because we have been discussing with them for a very long time – and we are not in agreement.

“They say to have the show, you have to have tyres that destroy themselves. And I think we don’t know how to do this. So, we cannot agree,” Menegaux insisted.

Indeed, former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was a big supporter of Pirelli’s move in designing tyres for the 2013 season that are specifically designed to degrade.

“Pirelli are doing exactly what we asked them to do,” he said at the time. “When the driver has to think about the tyres, it makes for more exciting racing.”

Menegaux fundamentally disagrees with this philosophy.

“The first element is not about the show,” he said. “It’s about the technology. We are in racing because it’s the best way to very quickly live test new technology.

“And of course there are side benefits – a side benefit is the show. A side benefit is the brand awareness. But in terms of brand awareness, Michelin is one of the best-known brands in the world.

“We don’t need to do this,” he added.

“So when we can influence the regulations so that performance is obtained while using far less materials and making a very good show, then it’s ok.

“That’s why we are not back in Formula 1.”

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