Michelin Refuses To Return To F1 Because The Sport Wants Tires To Fall Apart

Formula One / 5 Comments

Pirelli has no competition for the foreseeable future.

Michelin has no intention of becoming an official tire supplier for Formula 1 because it doesn't want to design tires that destroy themselves simply for entertainment value.

The French tire brand's CEO, Florent Menegaux, told The Drive that a return to F1 is always on the table but disagrees with how the sport currently relies on tire degradation to improve the show. Pirelli is the sole tire supplier for F1 at present, and Menegaux is not taking a dig at the rival company. The tires are intentionally designed to degrade during a race, forcing teams to pit at least once or risk an uncompetitive or potentially even unsafe racecar.

Michelin is known for pioneering tire technology, but it cannot reconcile marketing its brand with the idea of intentionally producing tires that have poor wear properties.


"The question is, how do we leverage technology to have a good show?" asked the CEO. "And that's where F1 comes into play because we have been discussing with them for a very long time - and we are not in agreement. Because they say to have the show, you have to have tires that destroy themselves. And I think we don't know how to do this. So, we cannot agree."

Essentially, Michelin would only consider rejoining if it was able to make the best tires for the sport that it can.

"First, we need to remind ourselves why Michelin is in racing," said Menegaux. "The first element is not about the show. It's not about the brand. It's about the technology. We are in racing because it's the best way to very quickly live test new technology. That's the first reason. And [...] a side benefit is the show. A side benefit is the brand awareness. But in terms of brand awareness, Michelin is one of the best-known brands in the world. We don't need to do this."


Michelin has spent a long time building its reputation and is now closely associated with some of the finest automakers on the planet, providing the rubber for cars like the BMW M2, the Honda Civic Type R, and even several Koenigseggs. It is arguably the manufacturer of the best road car rubber on the market, so why risk that image by intentionally creating tires that fall apart?

The topic is again for discussion because Pirelli's contract with F1 will end in 2024. Initially, the contract would have expired at the end of this year, but the global pandemic and regulation delays meant the contract was extended by an additional year.

It's not that Michelin is afraid of competing at the top. It supplies tires for MotoGP, the premier tier of two-wheeled motorsport, where the type of tire compound affects the setup of the bike but will always offer enough performance to complete an entire race without a change of rubber.


Thankfully, Michelin has only closed the door for now, not bolted it shut forever. As reported by Reuters in 2015, Michelin said that it would consider rejoining the sport once the sizes reached 18 inches, which they have done since 2022's introduction of new regulations.

"When we can influence the regulations so that performance is obtained while using far less materials and making a very good show, then it's okay," said Menegaux. "In MotoGP, even not the top racing teams can win. And they will tell you that the tire we provide helps them to do that. That's why we are not back in Formula 1."


Should Formula 1 change its rules, or would the sport suffer too much?

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