Pirelli’s tire contract for Formula 1 is set to end at the end of this season and the FIA has suggested it will put out a tender for a new contract. Pirelli could very well renew its agreement but Michelin says they would be interested in coming back to F1 having left the series back in 2006.
The issue is that Michelin would only do so if certain parameters were met including 18” tires and a focus on durability instead of the tire being used as a construct for the “show” with high degradation as its key component.
Pirelli have done a good job of providing what F1 asked for but Michelin feel it’s antithetical to what real tire manufacturers should be doing in motor sport. Michelin Motorsport director Pascal Couasnon summed up the current situation perfectly saying:
“Tires should offer stable performance and grip levels.
“It’s not normal that after a few laps a driver says ‘I need to slow down otherwise the tires won’t last’.
“That shouldn’t happen. These days F1 drivers can’t show their talent because the tires don’t allow them to.
“At the Spa 24 Hours GT race, too, some tires can’t even last for two consecutive stints.
“This happens when you are in a sole-supplier regime and you have no motivation to improve. That’s called mediocrity, not technology.
“If instead you have a technologically interesting rule book, even if you are sole supplier, you are forced to offer a product at its best level.”
The F1 Strategy Group has said in the past that it would unlikely that the series would move toward a 18” tire and here is the crux and feckless nature of the group. On one hand you could understand their aversion to an overhaul of F1’s engine regulations for next year as that would be a drastic move and the big teams would trumpet increased costs as the reason not to do anything.
They would most likely suggest that moving to a larger tire would also mean exorbitant costs in new chassis design and supplier parts etc. So F1 is locked down over a cost fear and yet the moves it does make are galactic in cost scope such as hybrid engines.
The tires would be the same for everyone and not a particular impediment to any team. Mercedes enjoys a comprehensively dominant engine at the moment so you can understand their reticence in changing the engines but the tires are something the sport should seriously change and Michelin have it right.
It think it is only fair to suggest that Pirelli too would find it more beneficial to create a high performance tire that lasts and would be more than happy to provide such a specification. I am a fan of multiple tires options but some fans didn’t like the so-called tire wars. Will F1 stick with a sole supplier or allow multiple brands?
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT