SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Sept. 16, 2005) — Group Michelin will supply only five Formula 1 teams next year, Chairman Edouard Michelin said recently, meaning the factory Toyota Motorsport GmbH team will rely on Bridgestone Corp. for tires next season.
Mr. Michelin told journalists at a press conference last weekend during the Belgian Grand Prix that Michelin will supply just five teams next season—McLaren-Mercedes, Renault, BMW-Sauber, BAR-Honda and Red Bull. The Williams F1 team already has confirmed its switch to Bridgestone.
Toyota was one of the first teams Michelin agreed to supply when it returned in 2001 as a Formula 1 tire supplier. In his comments, Mr. Michelin indicated Toyota chose to switch suppliers; the Toyota team has yet to make a public statement.
“We enjoy excellent business and technical relationship with Toyota,” he said, “and we fully understand, I must say, the reasons that they have to switch their tire partner. We regret losing them but we totally respect the orientation that they have taken.”
With these changes, Michelin and Bridgestone both will supply five teams during the 2006 season.