Michelin’s last ditch bid to win the F1 tyre contract for 2011 and beyond seems to have failed to impress the teams, and a deal with Pirelli appears to be a formality.
It is now apparently a question of finalising contractual and legal issues before confirmation comes from the FIA in the coming days.
Although Pirelli had already appeared to have already secured the contract, Michelin’s Nick Shorrock addressed the team bosses in a FOTA meeting in Istanbul on Sunday morning. However rather than put anything new on the table, he merely reiterated what had been said in earlier proposals.
The biggest weakness in Michelin’s case was its insistence on making a significant cut in the number of sets of tyres available per driver per race weekend, whereas Pirelli has agreed to honour the numbers as supplied by Bridgestone in the current FIA Sporting Regulations.
“We don’t have enough as it is,” said one team boss. “To go to even less is crackers.”
Intriguingly when I asked Shorrock about the transition from grooved to slick F1 tyres, he made a virtue of Michelin’s Le Mans experience and the longevity of its sportscar rubber: “We’ve not been in F1, but we are very present in other disciplines, notably in endurance racing, and particularly in a couple of weeks we’ll be at Le Mans. That type of racing brings us enormous information.
“If you look over the last 10 years the durability of a Michelin tyre has increased by 35%, while car speeds have increased by 10%. So that’s something we know how to do, it’s our basic profession, to make a tyre that’s usable and safe in a competitive environment.”
Logic suggests that creating tyres with an extra long life – which would be needed to get the teams through practice and qualifying on fewer sets – would do little for the F1 show.