F1 tyre size a deal-breaker for Michelin, Michelin

LONDON: Michelin has no interest in supplying tyres to Formula One unless the sport agrees to make them bigger, a change   that motorsport head Pascal Couasnon feels will surely happen, eventually.

The French company and current suppliers Pirelli are the only bidders for the three-year contract from 2017, when rule changes could be introduced to make the cars quicker and harder to handle.

Michelin have stressed that their bid depends on a change of tyre specification from 13 inch to at least 18.

“If the sport decides to stay with 13 inch, we respect it but it would not make sense to us,” Couasnon told Reuters during the season-ending London round of the new electric Formula E series.

“That’s where we are going to wait for the next time (the contract is up for tender),” he added when asked what would be the response to no change.

Michelin supply 18-inch tyres to the world rally and endurance championships and Formula E.

The current FIA tender document opens the way for an increase in diameter “if the tyre manufacturer feels there may be advantages to the competitors by doing so.” Couasnon said the transfer of technology was important for Michelin and F1 tyres needed to have a smaller sidewall and be more similar to those used by regular drivers as well as longer-lasting.

“We don’t want a banal tyre. We want a tyre that is getting close (to road tyres) so then you can transfer,” he added.

Whereas the Pirelli F1 compounds have been engineered to degrade and increase the strategy options, Couasnon said Michelin were not prepared to make a tyre that wore out quickly.

“It’s not the message we want to give which is ‘we’re going to invest a lot of technology to make a tyre which doesn’t last’,” he said.

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