Michelin Could Replace Pirelli As F1 Tire Supplier Beginning Next Year
Michelin "is in the frame" to be F1's tire supplier next year, according to Andrew Benson of the BBC. Sources said that the French company "has had discussions with governing body, the FIA, about taking over from Pirelli." Michelin, which last supplied tires to F1 in '06, "told teams it could produce the tyres, despite the late notice." There is "widespread discontent" with current supplier Pirelli among teams and officials in F1 "following a series of problems this season." A Michelin spokesperson told BBC Sport the company would be "interested" in a return to F1, but said this "would be contingent upon a change in the regulations." Michelin "would want a shift in emphasis" in F1 away from the multiple pit-stop formula that has been provided by Pirelli's high-degradation tires, at the request of CEO Bernie Ecclestone (BBC, 8/24).
LONG ROAD AHEAD: In London, Tom Cary reported F1 "is facing the prospect of a potentially protracted legal battle if Michelin steps up its bid to replace Pirelli." Pirelli claims that "it already has deals in place with 10 of the 11 teams, as well as the commercial rights holder," and said it would be "farcical" were the FIA to put out a tender now. Pirelli Motorsport Dir Paul Hembery said, "If Michelin wanted to return why didn’t they come out and say so last September? Quite frankly a tender in September when you are running in January would be farcical. You should have done that in September last year. We have contracts in place, and we would hope people would respect them" (TELEGRAPH, 8/24).
PLANNING AHEAD: REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported Pirelli "is proceeding on the basis that it will remain the sole supplier next season," but has "yet to sign a contract" with the FIA. Hembery said an agreement with the FIA, led by Frenchman Jean Todt, "would have to wait until the governing body's world council meeting in Croatia next month." F1's tire specifications for '14, which teams need to know to design their cars, "have to be lodged within a matter of weeks and Hembery said Pirelli were on course to meet the deadline" (REUTERS, 8/24).