Michelin says it is prepared to launch a tender to become Formula 1's tyre supplier from 2017, but will only do so if its change in philosophy is implemented.
The French firm previously supplied tyres in F1 between 2001 and 2006 alongside Bridgestone, but withdrew from the sport in disagreement at the decision to switch to a single control supply.
However, with the tyre tender up for grabs again from 2017, Michelin is signaling a desire to return to the sport, albeit under certain conditions that would ultimately prioritise durability over the current format of degradation.
Indeed, having previously opted against applying for the previous tender given the brief supplied by the FIA to offer tyres of varying compounds to challenge the driver, Michelin Motorsport boss Pascal Couasnon told Crash.net
it is willing to offer ideas to the governing body that it believes would improve the racing by developing a tyre that a driver can push to the limit throughout a race.
“F1 is still very visible and we are interested by this visibility,” he told Crash.net
. “Michelin has new ideas to present to the FIA and if these ideas are taken on board, then Michelin would consider a return to F1. We are open to discussion, but we are only interested if the tyre regulations respect the tyre.
“We want to offer a tyre that a driver can use at the limit at all times. A driver should be pushing at all times and the tyres at the moment mean they are holding back to make them last. In WEC, we offer a tyre that allows the driver to drive at the limit all the time, but it is not a rock hard tyre.
“The best of the best - this is what we would propose to be used in F1. There is no benefit running unpredictable tyres that last only 7 to 10 laps, we want tyres that teams can potentially reuse during the race.”
Indeed, Couasnon believes Michelin's proposals would have a direct influence on the construction of road car tyres, saying it would introduce 18 inch tyres with smaller side walls.
“We want to use racing as a laboratory and take the lessons from the track and apply them to road cars. We have been testing big tyres, 18 inches, with shorter side walls because they are closer to what you have on performance cars on the road. Taking innovations from the track to the road then becomes easier.”
Though Michelin retains its preference for competition in F1, Couasnon says it is prepared to become the sole supplier if that is the only option.
“Michelin is ready to be a sole supplier if tyre rules are aligned with our philosophy, but we would prefer competition.”
Michelin already supplies the World Endurance Championship, Formula E and the World Rally Championship, whilst it is currently preparing for its return to MotoGP, also as a control tyre supplier.