Contrary to popular paddock perception that it was a two-horse race, Michelin has now revealed that it was never actually in the running to become the sole tyre-supplier to the F1 World Championship in 2011.
With five names initially in the frame to succeed Bridgestone from next season – Michelin, Avon Cooper, Kumho, Hankook and Pirelli, who ultimately got the deal – it soon became apparent that the French manufacturer and its Italian rival were the leading contenders, with governing body the FIA championing the former for its more relevant recent experience in the top flight, and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) the latter for its lower cost.
However, Michelin's motorsport competition boss Nick Shorrock has since conceded that no formal application was ever made, reasoning that in the absence of a change in the regulations to increase the wheel diameter to 18 inches – thereby resulting in larger wheels with lower-profile tyres – there was little motivation for the company to return to F1.
“We were asked whether we were ready to supply tyres with the regulations of 2010,” he told French sports paper L'Équipe
. “We had discussions with the authorities, there were proposals to improve the show, to have a positive impact on the environment while controlling the costs, and of course where there is a competition of manufacturers – but the regulations did not change. Therefore, in the context of the current regulations remaining in-force in 2011, we were not prepared to submit an official application.”