Group Michelin will end its involvement in Formula 1 Grand Prix auto racing after the 2006 season, saying it considers F1's ``inevitable'' move to single tire supplier status counter to Michelin's ``long-standing sporting philosophy.''
Michelin said recent actions by Formula 1's sanctioning body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)-recommending single tire supplier status, reinstating slick tires, reinstating tire changes during races, etc.-were done with little or no warning, making it impossible to conduct long-term planning.
``This decision is the result of profound differences between Michelin's long-standing sporting philosophy and the way Formula 1 is managed by the regulating authorities, which no longer provide a clear and sustainable environment to justify long-term investments,'' Michelin Chairman Edouard Michelin said in a prepared statement.
``For Michelin, leaving Formula 1 in no way represents abandoning motorsports, to which the Michelin brand has been committed for 117 years,'' Mr. Michelin said. ``If F1's ways of functioning were to be significantly modified, Michelin would not hesitate in proposing its services to the different teams once again.''
Michelin said it considers the racing teams' freedom to choose their own tires as ``essential,'' and competition between at least two tire makers is critical in order ``stimulate progress for the public's greater interest.''
Michelin said it made its decision public at this time to respect the FIA's required notice period and to provide teams it will supply in 2006 enough time to prepare for the 2007 season and beyond. The FIA previously had said it would restrict Formula 1 to a single tire supplier starting with the 2008 season.
``No matter what,'' Mr. Michelin said, ``Michelin will do everything possible to ensure that its partners receive the best service and the best tires to help them win during the 2006 season.''
Michelin scored a clean sweep of titles in F1 this past season, with Team Renault F1 taking the team championship and Renault's Fernando Alonso taking the driver's title. Michelin-equipped drivers won 18 of the season's 19 races.
Michelin is set to supply six of the 10 teams competing in the F1 championship next year-McLaren Mercedes, BMW Sauber F1, Renault F1, Honda Racing F1, Red Bull Racing and Red Bull's Toro Rosso affiliated team. Bridgestone Corp. supplies the other four teams.
Since returning to the F1 arena in 2001 after a 16-year hiatus, Michelin-equipped drivers won 38 of 87 races in those five seasons, but only this past year did a Michelin driver claim the driver's title.
Michelin also noted that its withdrawal will allow the FIA to ``verify if (its) vaunted advantages of control tires are proven and, in particular, if equality among teams really is guaranteed.''