FORMULA One tyre regulations will need to change significantly if Michelin is to throw its hat into the ring again, the French manufacturer says.
“We need rules which are not promoting only the show, instead of the (tyre) performance,” Tony Menard, Michelin’s Southeast Asia and Oceania marketing director told Wheels during performance trials at Malaysia’s Sepang F1 circuit last week.
“If people are asking us to make tyres that stop after 10 laps, we say, no. That makes no sense”, Menard said.
“It’s difficult racing with old technologies. A 13-inch wheel? This bears no relation to performance tyres people buy,” he said.
Instead, Menard flagged the 18-inch tyres used in Formula One’s battery-powered rival, Formula E, as a more interesting challenge – the cars feature tyres that last all race and have to cope with both wet and dry conditions.
Michelin bowed out of Formula One in 2005, leaving rival Pirelli as the sole tyre supplier, after its tyres failed spectacularly under high cornering loads at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway-based US Grand Prix.
When asked what could tempt Michelin back to Formula One, Menard said the company has never said never again.
“Formula One is still a big show, it’s popular everywhere,” he said.
“Maybe there’s an opportunity under this condition, which could also be very interesting for the teams… because I’m not sure today that the teams are very happy because they lose a race because they lost one second in a pit stop every 10 laps.”
When also asked if Michelin felt that artificially introducing rapidly wearing tyres added to the F1 show, Menard said rubber that would not go the distance was the antithesis of the French tyre giant’s philosophy.
“We are not against entertainment,” he said. “We are against using the tyres as the single source of entertainment. The tyre could contribute but we don’t want to go against our DNA.
“Using the 10 laps in Formula One as an example, I’m spending hours explaining to my team how to sell and how to value the additional mileage we’re selling.
“At Michelin, we’re always the most expensive tyre for the consumer, but because we are delivering more performance and more mileage, we offer a better return on investment,” Menard said.
“My message is not credible if you watch on TV something showing exactly the opposite.”