Tyre manufacturer Michelin has told RaceFans it is considering a return to Formula 1 in 2020.
As revealed last week, the FIA has issued a tender for an official F1 tyre supplier from 2020 to 2023. A Michelin spokesperson confirmed it has seen the tender and is interested in a return.
Pirelli, which has been F1’s official tyre supplier since 2011, has been required to provide high-degradation rubber in order to create more exciting races. The tender issued by the FIA states the 2020-23 supplier must meet “objectives that affect the sporting spectacle… related to degradation, durability, temperature working range or wear characteristics.”
However according to Michelin’s spokesperson the company “is not interested in only the show – there also has to be a technical challenge for Michelin.”
The four-year contract requires the chosen supplier to provide rubber which will fit the current-specification 13-inch wheels in 2020, and a new 18-inch format from 2021. This presents a potential obstacle to an incoming supplier.
“For us to build a 13-inch tyre is something we can do but we wouldn’t want to have to,” said the spokesperson. “It adds an additional level of complexity and is something we wouldn’t want to happen.”
FIA race director Charlie Whiting admitted the current 13-inch format is “pretty old-fashioned”. He said there had been discussions “between our legal department and the legal department of the current supplier” on whether the new tyre tender and new wheel format could coincide.
“It would probably have been quite elegant if we’d been able to extend the existing contract but that wasn’t possible,” said Whiting.
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