Michelin isn’t applying for the new F1 tyre suppliers tender and they have a reason for not doing so as they feel they aren’t manufacturer to prepare degradable tyres.

Once more, French tyre manufacturer Michelin has declined to return to F1 as a tyre supplier. Current supplier Pirelli has been the sole one since 2011 when the sport seemingly ended the ‘tyre war’ and made it a single one to cut costs.

Michelin have not been part of F1 since 2006, the year Fernando Alonso took his second World Championship. Pirelli’s multi-year contract expires in 2024 and recently the FIA opened a tender process for 2025, 2026, 2027 with an option for 2028.

The Italian manufacturer not just is the tyre supplier, but they also sponsor several F1 grands prix which adds as a commercial factor. Recently, Michelin CEO Florent Menegaux stated that while a return to Grand Prix racing could always happen, he sees no end to the present level of absence.

“The question is, how do we leverage technology to have a good show? 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,” said the Michelin chief in an interview on The Drive.

“Because 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.” When one thinks about recent tyre maladies, one cannot forget the US GP of 2005 when Michelin could not guarantee the safety of their tyres at Indianapolis and all their runners withdrew at the end of the warm up lap leaving Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi to race.

“Teams should be understanding tyre performance and capitalizing on the fact that the tyre is going to be performing from the first lap around the circuit to the last,” said Menegaux “The drivers will tell you they want to be at their maximum all the time. And when I hear the drivers in Formula 1 – I like Formula 1 – but they say no no, it’s not possible.”

Alongside this, he does believe that Michelin are a strong enough brand who do not need to partake in Grand Prix racing. The topic of tyre degradation has always been a hot issue in F1 regardless of era or tyre supplier. Even back in the days of Michelin and Goodyear, degradation, performance, and the political games gave people plenty to talk about.

Refueling in some ways took the headlines away from tyres but the games were on still. For Menegaux, however, it’s rather simple: Why is Michelin involved in racing, to begin with? “First, we need to remind ourselves why Michelin is in racing,” he said. “The first element is not about the show. It’s not about the brand. It’s about the technology.

“We are in racing because it’s the best way to very quickly live test new technology. That’s the first reason.  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.”

It could well be said that Michelin does not need F1 as it is involved in other brands of motorsport also. Being involved in series like WEC and MotoGP is keeping them busy anyhow. Then there’s bit of rallying and not to forget being part of Formula E since its inception until Hankook took over.

Notwithstanding that the experience he has gained and knowledge reinforces his opinion that motorsport personnel should understand the performance of tyres and experience and skill should help them to capitalize on this to be successful. “In MotoGP we provide tyres soft, medium, and hard for every type of circuit, every race,” he said.

“And every type of bike can win with soft, medium, or hard without changing. It’s the way you set up your bike, the type of circuit, and the way the pilot operates. 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”.

“In MotoGP, even not the top racing teams can win. And they will tell you that the tyre we provide helps them to do that. That’s why we are not back in Formula 1.” When one thinks of Michelin, minds are cast back to the tyre wars of the 1980’s when, as per above, Michelin and Goodyear were the two focal suppliers.

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