Michelin is seriously considering a return to Formula 1 and is not ruling out taking on Pirelli in an all out tyre war next year.
With the sport’s existing sole supplier Pirelli having already inked 2014 contracts with Bernie Ecclestone and the bulk of the teams, the fact that Michelin has now entered the race is fascinating.
Michelin competition boss Pascal Couasnon said on Monday that the French marque has dropped its earlier condition that it will only return to Formula 1 if it can do so in competition with a rival.
“We have changed one of our conditions,” he told Le Figaro newspaper. “Now, we don’t mind becoming the exclusive supplier. We are ready for it, as there is quite an interesting technical challenge.”
But Couasnon said that Michelin is also still open to a tyre war, “We have always said that we are interested in competition.”
He said that talks with the governing FIA, led by Frenchman Jean Todt, have already begun.
“We have sent them the same information as we have to the general public, so our position is known to all,” said Couasnon.
He denied, however, that talks with Formula 1 chief executive Ecclestone are already underway.
“I was surprised by these reports, but I’m starting to get used to it,” Couasnon smiled.
“Two weeks ago, I read that Michelin planned to hold a press conference, but nothing happened. In Formula 1, there are always a lot of rumours.”
“I can confirm that I have not scheduled any meetings with Bernie Ecclestone. If negotiations were to begin, we would hold them with the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and the teams.”
Michelin entered F1 as a tyre supplier to Renault’s turbo project in 1977 and remained until 1984. They won their first grand prix in Brazil in 1978.
They returned in 2001, until 2006, and in total competed in 215 races, winning 102 and claimed six drivers titles and four constructors titles in the process. Their final win in F1 was at the 2006 Japanese GP. (GMM)