Michelin vs Pirelli…high deg vs durability

There is an interesting piece over at AUTOSPORT about the tire tender which Michelin has applied for. In essence, Michelin isn’t keen on the current specification of tire—namely the high degradation aspect as well as the 13” wheel. The reckon they’d offer an alternative to the tender that is designed for an 18” wheel and a tire compound that is designed to be durable.

Whether the FIA will entertain that is another story but for now, they’ve thrown their hat in the ring. Michelin Motorsport director Pascal Couasnon said


“In making a proposal we are trying to change the situation a little. We believe the image of tyres in Formula 1 is not what we would like to do, or makes sense.

“The tyre used as an object you throw away after a few laps, or whatever, is not really something that is good for the tyre industry.

“We say there’s another way to ensure a good show, as we saw over the weekend (at Le Mans), with high-technology tyres lasting with good grip, and you can have a show.”


This places Pirelli and Michelin as the two companies that have offered to supply Formula 1 for three years starting in 2017. I presume that Pirelli have offered to supply F1 under the terms of the FIA tender as written but I have not read anything, currently, to the contrary.

From Michelin’s perspective, they believe a tire company should make a superior product designed to be the best it can be, not artificially degrading and on many level, I agree with that sentiment. I have to assume that Pirelli also would prefer to show what they can do given the same directive to build the best tire they can for F1.

The reality is, F1 doesn’t want that specification. They believe offering a rapidly degrading tire adds to the “show” and produces better racing. The F1 fan camp may be split on that issue as some do not like the HD tires while other do indeed feel it adds to the drama, tactics and strategy of the series.

As the article mentions, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone isn’t interested in Michelin’s notion of building a better tire. The venerable master of ceremonies suggested that making a rock-hard tire that would last all season is not what the sport wants. He feels that Pirelli have done a good job of with their tires for F1 but Couasnon feels differently:


“I also understand people say Pirelli has done a good job, but if I listen to the teams and drivers, not everybody agrees on that.

“If the request is for more pit stops then there is a way to provoke them, but also with tyres that do not degrade as much. Maybe we need to find a solution that respects some guidelines.

“What’s important for us is being able to propose some ideas.”

“We love the sport, but we believe there is something better than can be done today,” said Couasnon.

“We are not saying we are right, but at least we would like to contribute to the sport, and bring a little bit of innovation.”


I have to say that Pirelli have done a nice job of providing what he sport asked for an while some teams may feel they have gone too conservative or too aggressive, I think it is a fine line that they have managed and from a company standpoint, they’ve done as well as anyone could expect.

Michelin make a nice tire, from personal experience, and as a person who own both brands currently, I would be pleased to see either supplier as the selected party. I have to admit that my personal bias would be to see either company produce an 18” version that lasts and is meant to increase the speed of the car through superior grip and performance because I think that is what the sport needs. That may not be a popular position but F1 needs to move forward and tires are a critical part of the equation.


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Tom Firth

If Michelin is in a position to negotiate, or more demand changes if the company is to take the tender, does that mean perhaps the FIA isn’t in a position to refuse?

Junipero Mariano

If Pirelli and Michelin both demand long lasting 18 inch tires, why wouldn’t they be able to get their way? I haven’t heard of anyone else wanting to participate in the tire program.

Patrick Dinsmoor

I hope F1 adopts 18″ wheels or something at least larger than 13″. F1 is currently using the real world relevance excuse to defend the current engine regulations. Yet continue to use tires and wheels that have no real world relevance at all. Michelin has proven to be the most innovative tire manufacturer as of late. Who else has intermediate slick sponge tires like Michelin has for the Le Mans prototypes.

Junipero Mariano

Playing Devil’s advocate for a second, does anyone know if Pirelli’s tires (across the range) at least make up for the lost longevity with increased pace? Or are they only comparable to what Michelin provides WEC, or Firestone supplies IndyCar?

That aside, I heartily agree with Todd. Why call it “the pinnacle of Motorsport” if you use dodgy tires? Let the drivers go flat out, even if it possibly means a one stopper. The High Deg concept reduces F1 to what Paul aptly called a game show.


Michelin withdrew from F1 last time because they didn’t see any benefit to being the sole supplier. They would only ever get negative publicity. I wonder what has changed, Pirelli are hardly basking in positive publicity from their involvement.