Michelin refuses to press self-destruct button on F1 tyres

05.05.2017 - Qualifying, Michelin Tyres 04-06.05.2017 TCR International Series, Round 3, Spa Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Photo4 / XPB Images
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Michelin is resisting calls to make tyres that will effectively 'self-destruct' after a certain amount of use during a race, as it mulls a bid to take Formula 1's exclusive tyre contract away from rival manufacturer Pirelli.

The FIA has just opened the tendering process for the supply of F1 tyres from 2025 to 2027. Pirelli holds the current contract, having originally won the job in 2011 from Bridgestone

Before that there had been six years where Bridgestone and Michelin both provided tyres to different teams on the grid.

in 2001, Bridgestone provided tyres to Ferrari, McLaren, BAR Honda, Jordan, Arrows and Sauber while Michelin initially worked with Williams, Renault, Jaguar, Prost and Minardi.

07.07.2005 Silverstone, England Feature, Michelin truck and tyres - July, Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England - www.xpb.cc, EMail: info@xpb.cc - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: xpb.cc

But Michelin cut their ties with F1 after the end of 2006, in the aftermath of the 2005 US Grand Prix controversy in which all the Michelin-shod cars were obliged to pull out on safety grounds leaving just six cars in the race -a huge embarrassment to all concerned..

Michelin are exploring returning to F1 when the new tyre provision contract comes into effect, but it's not willing to create tyres that are designed to degrade after a certain point purely in a bid to "improve the show".

Michelin CEO Florent Menegaux told The Race website that he did not believe that the best way to make the sport more exciting was by compromising the tyre performance in ways "that affect the sporting spectacle".

“We have been discussing with them for a very long time and we are not in agreement,” he said. "They say to have the show, you have to have tyres that destroy themselves. I think we don’t know how to do this, so we cannot agree."

He suggested that forcing drivers to continually focus on tyre management and preventing degradation would actually make the show worse rather than better.

"The drivers will tell you they want to be at their maximum all the time," he said, while acknowledging that modern racing in high-spec cars made it impractical to go fully flat-out from start to finish.

“Teams should be understanding tyre performance and capitalising on the fact that the tyre is going to be performing from the first lap around the circuit to the last."

Not only that, but Menegaux pointed out that it would hardly be a very good shop window for Michelin's products if they had a limited usage life and gave up too much performance in a 300km race.

He added that Michelin was already “one of the best-known brands in the world”, leaving them little room to get any credit for improving the show if it meant compromising their tyres in the process.

Instead, Menegaux argued that the only reason for coming back into F1 would be to use the sport as a way of developing new products for its worldwide road market, adding: "It’s the best way to very quickly live test new technology."

03.03.2005 Melbourne, Australia, Peter Sauber, SUI, Sauber, Teamchief, Team Principal with a Michelin tyre - Thursday, March, Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix - www.xpb.cc, EMail: info@xpb.cc - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: R.Batchelor / xpb.cc

Michelin and other manufacturers have until May 15 to respond to the FIA tender, with the FIA announcing the winner a month later. So far only Pirelli has confirmed it is reviewing the documentation with a view to submitting a bid.

Hankook currently supplies tyres for Formula E but suffered a recent fire at its Daejeon facility in South Korea that has left it struggling to fulfil current orders, meaning it may decide against taking on further commitments at this time.

Pirelli was one of the original providers of tyres to F1 when the world championship launched in 1950, along with Firestone, Dunlop and Englebert. Other providers over the years include Continental, Goodyear and Avon.

The current tyre provision contract requires the manufacturer to provide a range of six different slick tyre compounds ranging from hard (C0) to soft (C5) as well as compounds for intermediate and wet conditions.

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