Michelin to Leave Formula One After 2006
Michelin is to end its Formula One involvement after the 2006 season, the French manufacturer has reported. Explaining its decision, Michelin said it would not supply a single supplier Formula 1 series and was not happy with F1’s new direction, but did not rule out rejoining the series, if the rules were modified.
For many motorsport observers this is a somewhat understated way of describing the rift that has emerged between the manufacturer and the sport’s governing bodies. The manufacturer also complained of “constant changes to racing regulations without warning.” Following a disastrous US Grand Prix, and public disagreements with the FIA chief, Max Mosely, Michelin have obvious decided to leave the Formula 1 circus to the only other act on the scene – Bridgestone.
“The teams’ freedom to choose their own tyres is essential. Therefore, competition between at least two tyre manufacturers is critical; this provides the basis for real competition between tyre suppliers which, in turn, stimulates progress for the public’s greater interest,” Michelin said in an official statement.
An official statement clearly outlined the manufacturer’s reason for deciding against continuing its involvement: “Today, it would appear as though Formula One rules will be modified to impose a single tyre supplier. After consulting with its loyal partners (McLaren Mercedes, BMW Sauber F1, Renault F1, Honda Racing F1) as well as with Sir Frank Williams, Michelin is now convinced that the evolution towards a single tyre supplier is inevitable.”
The decision is the result of “profound differences” between Michelin’s long-standing sporting philosophy and the way Formula One is managed by the regulating authorities.” According to the manufacturer, the sport “no longer provides a clear and sustainable environment to justify long-term investments,” commented company senior managing partner, Edouard Michelin.
But leaving Formula 1 in no way means the manufacturer is leaving motorsport behind altogether. And there is hope that the company may rejoin the series in the future. “The Michelin brand has been committed [to motorsport] for 117 years. If F1’s ways of functioning were to be significantly modified, Michelin would not hesitate in proposing its services to the different teams once again,” the statement read. Michelin’s withdrawal at the end of 2006 will almost certainly bring a single tyre supplier into play in 2007, a year earlier than expected. “In this new situation, it should be possible to verify if the FIA’s vaunted advantages of control tyres are proven and, in particular, if equality amongst teams really is guaranteed,” the statement explained adding: “This decision is being made public in December 2005 to respect the FIA’s required notice period and to provide a maximum amount of preparation time to Michelin partners, with whom there was no firm commitment beyond 2006.”
In conclusion, Edouard Michelin stated: “No matter what, Michelin will do everything possible to ensure that its partners receive the best service and the best tyres to help them win during the 2006 season, as has always been the case since our return to Formula One in 2001. Michelin would have liked to have extended its long-term Formula One involvement, because the demands of Formula One as well as the collaboration with partner teams have been such a source of progress and fruitful exchanges. Thank you to all of our partners for this.”