Michelin: Single tire supplier to F1 not enough

Dec. 14, 2005

Groupe Michelin will not extend its Formula One involvement beyond the 2006 season. The company has expressed the conditions of its involvement in Formula One on several occasions:

"Michelin considers Formula One to be a highly technical motorsport in which the tire is a very influential component in the scope of the performance of the vehicle. The teams' freedom to choose their own tires is essential. Therefore, competition between at least two tire manufacturers is critical; this provides the basis for real competition between tire suppliers which, in turn, stimulates progress for the public’s greater interest."

The company says "it would appear as though Formula One rules will be modified to impose a single tire 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 toward a single tire supplier is inevitable. Michelin says it expresses its regret to see F1 lose a part of its high technology.

In addition to this new direction in F1, there are constant changes to racing regulations without warning. Such practices also make planning for the future completely impossible.

In this context, continuing to make long-term investments in Formula One no longer presents the same interest, says the company.

"This 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, which no longer provide a clear and sustainable environment to justify long-term investments," says Michelin Chairman and CEO Edouard Michelin.

"For Michelin, leaving Formula One in no way represents abandoning motorsports, to which the Michelin brand has been committed 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."

Michelin's withdrawal at the end of 2006 will almost certainly bring into play a single tire supplier in 2007. "In this new situation, it should be possible to verify if the FIA's vaunted advantages of control tires are proven and, in particular, if equality amongst teams really is guaranteed," says the company.

Michelin says 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.

"No matter what, Michelin will do everything possible to ensure that its partners receive the best service and the best tires to help them win during the 2006 season, as has always been the case since our return to Formula One in 2001," says Edouard. "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."