By Bruce Davis, Tire Business staff
CLERMONT-FERRAND, France — Group Michelin's motorsport director recently signaled his company's renewed interest in being Formula 1's race tire supplier but stopped short of saying the company would bid for the contract, the tender process for which is open for the 2017-19 seasons.
Pascal Couasnon, Michelin's motorsport director since 2011, addressed Michelin's possible interest in the F1 race tire supply situation in a Q&A supplied by Michelin in connection with an announcement that the World Series by Renault (WSR) racing series is switching to 18- and 17-inch race tires next year for its FR3.5 and FR2.0 championships.
Asked whether Michelin would return to Formula 1 if the sport opted to change the tire size spec to 18 inches from 13 inches, Mr. Couasnon is quoted as saying: “We would examine every aspect in detail before we come to a decision. Let's just say, vehicles on 18-inch tires would be a step in this direction....”
Michelin last supplied F1 with tires in 2007. Since then F1's governing body, Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA), has specified a single-supplier regulation, with Bridgestone Corp. filling that role from 2008-11 and Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. since then.
Bids for the 2017-19 season contract are due June 17.
Michelin bid for the F1 contract in 2010, although its bid carried a caveat that F1 abandon its single-supplier contract status.
In the Michelin Q&A, Mr. Couasnon was asked whether he thought the FIA would move away from the 13-inch tire/wheel spec.
His reply: “I think the idea has legs. The next decision on this subject will come before year-end with a possible launch in 2017.
“Given the fact that the new Formula E cars are already using 18-inch tires and the World Series by Renault…, which serves as preparation for the Formula 1, perhaps soon to follow, it seems me that this step would make sense.”