Michelin confirms interest in return to F1 2017

Italy’s Autosprint reported that the former F1 tyre supplier could go head-to-head with Pirelli in the forthcoming tender process to become the sport’s official partner from 2017.

As the ‘tyre war’ era ended at the end of 2006, and also due to its difficult relationship with the governing FIA, the French marque left F1.

But now, Michelin is eyeing a return.

“We are open to it,” said motor sport director Pascal Couasnon, “but there are certain conditions.

“Formula one needs to change the technical regulations — the tyre must again be a technical object rather than a tool for a spectacular show,” he insisted. F1 is already considering a change of regulations for 2017, with the current generation of Pirelli tyres often criticised for their heavy degradation and low performance.

Today, Michelin is involved in sports cars, world rally and Formula E.

As for F1, Couasnon said: “We want 18-inch tyres that we will use in Formula E, and soon in other series.

“If formula one takes our proposals into account, then we are prepared and we have a strong will to return.

“If things stay as they are, we are not interested. So we will submit our application, then it’s up to (Bernie) Ecclestone and the FIA whether they accept or not,” he added.

Couasnon said Michelin is no longer demanding a new ‘tyre war’, but not if becoming the sole supplier means following the example of the past few years.

He said F1 tyres “should have a stable performance and grip level. It is not normal for drivers to say after a few laps ‘I have to slow down to save the tyres’. This should not be.

“Today formula one drivers cannot show their talent because the tyres do not allow it.

“This happens when there is only one manufacturer and no motivation to improve. But if there is a technically interesting rulebook, then you have to develop your best product even if you are the only supplier,” he added.