Michelin applies for F1 return in 2017

Jun.17 (GMM) Michelin has announced it is in the running to return to F1 in 2017.

Italian company Pirelli has been the sport’s official sole supplier since 2011, but now the FIA has launched a new tender process for the three-year contract beyond 2016.

Applications close on Wednesday, and chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera confirmed recently that Pirelli will lodge its paperwork.

And when asked about former F1 supplier Michelin’s apparent interest, he said: “On the 17th, we will see who is there.”

Michelin has now announced on Twitter: “We have submitted our F1 proposal to (the) FIA. 18-inch (tyres) of course and ‘drive to the max’ tyre for the driver pleasure.”

Motor sport director Pascal Couasnon was also quoted by Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Yes, we have entered.”

It is on Michelin’s conditions, however, that the French company’s application may falter.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone indicated recently that he supports Pirelli, as he thinks Michelin would produce a “rock-hard tyre” that would not be good for the show.

Just last month, Couasnon said Michelin only wants to return to F1 if the tyre can be “a technical object rather than a tool for a spectacular show”.

Ecclestone has also said he thinks the Michelin-preferred 18-inch wheel diameter “looks horrible” on single seaters.

In Canada recently, the major teams appeared to agree, indicating F1 has scrapped its earlier plans to consider moving away from 13-inch wheels.

“Certainly from a grip point of view it (18-inch) is not positive,” said Mercedes’ Paddy Lowe.

“Like for like, such tyres will have lower grip and the weight will go up considerably, so I think generally we would intend to stick with the 13-inch wheels.”

The next step in the tyre tender process is that the FIA will assess the applications from a technical and safety perspective, before commercial negotiations with Ecclestone begin.

“There is a phase when the FIA will evaluate the technical competences of people who want to supply and then there’s the important bit which is the commercial aspect with the promoter,” confirmed Pirelli’s Paul Hembery.

“So there’s a timetable set out and we will know before the end of the year.”

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