Michelin ‘surprised’ Bridgestone eying F1 deal

Tue, 27 June 2023, 09:00

Jun.27 (GMM) Michelin’s motorsport boss says he’d be “surprised” if Bridgestone really is serious about taking over from Pirelli as the sole tyre supplier in Formula 1.

It is believed the FIA has now approved the technical applications of both Pirelli and Bridgestone for the contractual period beyond 2024, with commercial negotiations now set to take place without a specified deadline.

Bridgestone and Pirelli aside, the other most recent tyre supplier in F1 was Michelin – but boss Matthieu Bonardel says the French marque is definitely not interested.

“If there is an invitation to tender from F1, we of course take a very close look at it,” he told f1-insider.com.

“But for us, there are simply certain criteria that have to be met,” said Bonardel. “We must be able to be innovative. We use motorsport as a test laboratory.”

However, he says Pirelli – and Bridgestone, if the Japanese company secures the 2025 contract – has to produce tyres designed to spice up F1’s show.

“We want to tell a story that fits Michelin’s brand philosophy – that we produce high-quality tires that last longer and are sustainable,” he said.

“But in the F1 tender, there is just half a line on sustainability. There are practically zero expectations in this regard and it doesn’t matter at all. We could burn the tires after the race and nobody would say anything.”

Bonardel also said F1 tyres are not designed for peak performance anymore.

“The reality is that the tyre is used to create a difficult situation for the driver. He has to manage them and that paints a bad picture of the tyre.

“We want the drivers to be able to fight and be happy with their tyre partner,” he added. “Maybe Pirelli doesn’t care, but it’s a must for us. So as long as they have that philosophy, we’re out.”

Michelin’s Bonardel also suspects that Bridgestone doesn’t really have a realistic chance of beating Pirelli to the deal.

“I’m not sure Formula 1 is really interested in having another tyre manufacturer,” he said. “The invitation to tender is not written for a newcomer, but for the current supplier.”

Some believe that is why Bridgestone is currently staying very quiet about their supposed application.

“In terms of philosophy, mindset and strategic goals, Bridgestone is not that different from Michelin. They are certainly closer to us than Pirelli,” Bonardel said.

“I’d be surprised if Bridgestone wants to demonstrate tyre degradation just to be in Formula 1.”

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