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Michelin return 'would depend on rule changes'

French tyre manufacturer Michelin has said that it is interested in stepping into the role of F1's exclusive supplier - but that the rules would need to be changed first.
Michelin remains coy about just how far down the road they are to returning as a supplier of tyres to F1 teams, with the latest reports suggesting that they would be prepared to take over from Pirelli as soon as 2014 - but that the regulations and expectations on the tyres would need to be overhauled first.

Pirelli is currently haemorrhaging support in the F1 paddock, with Friday's punctures for Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso renewing concerns among drivers and team principals that the 2013 compounds are not fit for purpose. Pirelli has denied this and said that Friday's incidents were due to a piece of metal shed by Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus which cut the rubber on his rivals' cars in the minutes that followed.

But with questions swirling over just how long Pirelli will weather the ongoing storm of dissatisfaction, BBC Sport reported on Saturday morning that Michelin has been holding secret talks with the FIA, the governing body of F1, about taking over from Pirelli - possibly as soon as next season.

The report adds that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is to meet with Michelin director of motorsport Pascal Couasnon as soon as possible.

It had been assumed that any move by Michelin to return to F1 for the first time since the end of the 2006 season could not happen before 2015 because of the scale of the production challenge involved in supplying all the teams on the grid with so little preparation time, but sources say that Michelin is confident that it could do this if given the green light in the next week or so.

But first Michelin would want to see a change of regulations, insisting that the FIA must drop its current requirement on its sole supplier to provide tyres that degrade quickly to make pit stop strategies a crucial part of Grand Prix events. The company points out that fast-wearing tyres have no place in the modern world of mainstream motor car engineering, which is all about durability and sustainability as well as safety and performance.

Michelin is understood to only be interested in returning to F1 if the sport allowed a showcase for their advanced technology being developed for road car users as well, such as the company's new slick (tread-free) compounds for wet weather use.

However, Michelin are said have relented from their demands for an immediate switch to 18-inch wheels from the current 13-inch specification - again because of relevance to road car development - and have stated that they are no longer opposed to being the sole supplier of tyres, rather than in a competition as was the case in their previous stint in F1 with the 'tyre war' against Bridgestone.

Pirelli already has deals in place for 2014 with a number of F1 teams, but those would be superseded in the event that Pirelli was ousted as the sport's official tyre supplier at the end of the current season. Previously it was thought that Michelin had been preparing to announce a bid for the contract with effect from 2015, but a rumoured press conference at the end of July announcing a future bid for the contract never materialised.

The current secret talks could still be a matter of the FIA and Ecclestone hedging their bets in case the row over tyre safety flares up again a Spa, or the event that Pirelli decides the risk of reputational damage has become too great and walks away from F1 because of the failure to award them the 2014 contract in time.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
24.08.2013- Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management
24.08.2013- (L-D) Mario Isola (ITA), Sporting Director Pirelli  and Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorspor Director
28.07.2013- Race,  grid: Adrian Newey (GBR), Red Bull Racing , Technical Operations Director with Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorspor Director
22.08.2013- Pirelli Tyres
09.10.2016 - Race, Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorspor Director
09.10.2016 - Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorspor Director
09.10.2016 - (L-R) Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorspor Director,  Nikki Lauda (AU), Mercedes and Helmut Marko (AUT), Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Advisor
08.10.2016 - Qualifying, Pirelli Tyres and OZ Wheels
08.10.2016 - Qualifying, Pirelli Tyres and OZ Wheels
07.10.2016 - Hiroshi Yasukawa (JPN), Bridgestone
06.10.2016 - Pirelli Tyres and OZ Wheels
06.10.2016 - Pirelli Tyres
02.10.2016 - Race, Pirelli Tyres and OZ Wheels
02.10.2016 - Race, Pirelli Tyres and OZ Wheels
Pirelli tyre compound choices, Japanese Grand Prix [Credit: Pirelli]
Pirelli tyre compound choices, Malaysian Grand Prix [Credit: Pirelli]
18.09.2016 - Race, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM
18.09.2016 - Race, Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of FOM

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August 24, 2013 2:17 PM

It's not that simple. I take photos for a living, & often what the client asks for in the brief seems a bit daft to me ... but they're the client, it's their business & they're paying me to give them what they want. I'm forced to deliver the best work I can within those confines, even though I know it's not ultimately my best possible work. There have been times I've declined the work because a bad outcome will ultimately come back to damage my reputation, even if it is exactly to spec ... & quite honestly I'm surprised Pirelli are sticking around, because that point arrived a long time ago for them.

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