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Michelin considering Formula 1 return in 2020

2020 F1 season

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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.

“Yes we are studying the text,” a spokesperson told RaceFans. “We need to ensure the specifications are consistent with Michelin’s approach to technology.”

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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26 comments on “Michelin considering Formula 1 return in 2020”

  1. I can’t see any way Michelin would join before 2021 without the change in wheel size being brought forward a year. It just doesn’t make sense at any level.

    1. @eurobrun Precisely my point as well.

    2. @eurobrun, that then depends on persuading the teams to accept fairly significant changes in the regulations over multiple years (2019, 2020 and 2021), which is probably just going to aggravate the financial problems that the smaller teams have. Somebody, somewhere, is going to have to compromise, and it seems more likely that it will be the tyre manufacturer that has to compromise rather than the teams.

  2. I get the impression this tender is designed towards Pirelli.

    1. @MarcusAurelius I agree, this looks like a Pirelli slam dunk!

  3. Neil (@neilosjames)
    23rd July 2018, 18:00

    Wonder if they’re ‘Aston Martin Interested’, ‘VW Interested’ or ‘Actually Interested’…

    1. @neilosjames where does “Porsche interested” stacks?

      1. Neil (@neilosjames)
        24th July 2018, 15:38

        I lumped them in with their parent company VW, right in the middle.

  4. FIA: we’ve got our dates wrong and said we will move to 18inch wheels in 2021 but our contract with you ends in 2020. Could you do another year?
    Pirelli: um couldn’t you just use the new wheels in 2020?
    FIA: that would mean admitting we made a mistake
    Pirelli: yes, it would
    FIA: nope can’t do that we already announced it and michilen can’t get them ready in time.
    Pirelli: so you messed up, your replacement tyre supplier isn’t ready as you want us to cover the how mess up?
    FIA:yes that’s it exactly!
    Pirelli: *click*

    1. They can’t introduce them for 2020 as that would cost teams a fortune. Don’t forget that there already having to design completely new cars for 2019 due to regulation changes & are going to have to come up with completely new cars for 2021 due to even bigger regulation changes. Getting them to have to come up with totally new cars based around a completely different philosophy for 2020 as well simply isn’t feasible.

      You can’t just put the 18″ tyres on cars designed around the 13″ one’s as the larger wheels require new brakes, suspension configurations/systems as well as having a big impact on the overall aero, weight distribution etc..

      The problem is simply that they had already planned the big aero changes for 2021 as thats when existing agreements end & a whole new set of regulations & stuff can be introduced. The tyre tender ending a year earlier is simply unfortunate timing as at the time it was signed (By Bernie) nobody knew there was going to be such major changes for 2021 brought on by new owners.

  5. I recently watched a clip from 2009 and I forgot how square shouldered the Bridgestone slicks used to be.

  6. I doubt it.

  7. “there also has to be a technical challenge for Michelin” – well wouldn’t trying to be faster than Pirelli be the challenge?

    1. Maybe it’s not a challenge?

    2. Michelin wanted there to be multiple suppliers available for the teams to choose. This way, they would be able to solidly demonstrate that they built the superior product when compared to the competition. Restricting everybody to a single tyre supplier does nothing to encourage the tyre manufacturers to innovate and provide increasingly better products to their respective teams.

  8. 2005 USA GP.

    Too soon?

    1. And how many other races were Michelin tyres used in without any issues at all?

      In fact how many teams actually suffered tyre failures/issues at Indy in 2005?

      1. And unless I’m mistaken it was just one corner at the US GP that the tires couldn’t handle.

    2. Silverstone 2016 – Pirelli tyres going pop all over the place? Too soon????????

  9. I’d like to see a change away from Pirelli, and if that’s Michelin that’s fine by me. I’m not convinced the one year of 13” tires is a deal breaker for them…just not ideal. Sounds like Whiting has already tried to rectify that to no avail, so perhaps it will come down to how badly they want to move away from Pirelli and perhaps they (F1) can somehow help compensate at least somewhat a new maker for that one initial and final year of 13 inchers.

  10. I don’t see why everyone is getting so excited about Pirelli getting replaced. It’s not like Pirelli purposefully made cheese tyres – the FIA mandated for them to degrade and have limited life to force pit stops and strategies.

    If anyone thinks Michelin or whoever picks up after Pirelli won’t have the same requests hey are kidding themselves.

    I would hope that if we move away from designed to degrade tyres that Pirelli get the opportunity to showcase their tyres and change a public perception that their tyres are rubbish, it would have to be a very compelling response from Michelin for the FIA to hange manufacturer.

    I wonder if Pirelli do lose it and degradeable tyres are going away, would Pirelli have a legal claim that their brand has been damaged?

    1. @captainpie Pirelli were asked (Not told) to make tyres with higher degredation, The way they went about achieving that (Thermal degredation) was 100% upto them & they could have also refused (As other potential suppliers did).

      Additionally they haven’t actually had the high-deg mandate for the past 2 years & were actually asked to make tyres that offer the best performance & better durability, Teams & drivers would question how well they have accomplished that.

      In terms of there brand been damaged, Some of the things that may have done that were totally down to Pirelli. The thermal degredation that caused many of the ‘problems’ was there decision, The moving towards the steel belt in 2013 which played a role in the many failures was there decision & some of the other negatives such as the tiny operating windows & such which led to team/driver complaints was also 100% there decision.

      Bernie (Rather than the FIA) made a request, Pirelli agreeing with it & the way they went about trying to achieve it is 100% on them. If they had done what Firestone is doing in Indycar (Marginally higher wear rates achieved in a more natural way via softer compounds & thinner tread) I doubt Pirelli would have suffered most of the complaints, criticism & other issues the thermal degredation route they opted for (Because it was cheaper & easier) caused them.

      1. I agree, Pirelli’s execution has not been ideal. By contrast, Firestone in IndyCar deliver prime and option tyres week in and week out that deliver a mixture of strategies and performance differentials with such regularity that one forgets they are even there. Of course, the stresses on the tyres are different in F1, so it’s not a direct comparison. But I think Firestone’s remarkable consistency makes it clear how it is possible for a tyre manufacturer to achieve everything that Pirelli has struggled to deliver the past several years.

    2. @captainpie So not only is it not FIA but is F1 itself that would handle the tire aspect of the series, it is also not BE that is in charge. Haven’t you heard enough bad about these tires? Why would you assume that 18” tires on Liberty’s first gen of cars that I expect might be quite radical cars at that, would still have the same rubbish compounds with minuscule temp operating windows?

      Don’t know about you but I’m expecting a different look, cars that make less wake, no drs, front and rear wings like we haven’t seen before, on 18” tires. Cars with which the drivers will be able to race closely. I don’t envision anything whatsoever like today’s tires (compounds) on 2021 cars.

  11. @captainpie

    the FIA mandated for them to degrade and have limited life to force pit stops and strategies.

    No the FIA did not do that at all. It was only Pirelli who presented this idea!

    All the other tyre manufacturers trying to win the tender had a completely different approach. None of them were based on high degradation tyres. Mostly they were going for longer lasting tyres to reduce costs.

  12. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    24th July 2018, 11:59

    Yay, another poor tyre manufacturer who is willing to have their specifications changed every 20 minutes. Good luck!

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