Being the most technologically advanced motorsport category is part of Formula One’s DNA, yet the series apparently still isn’t innovative enough for Michelin’s liking.
The French tire manufacturer’s head of competition, Pascal Couasnon, recently revealed that F1’s unwillingness to push the envelope is the reason Michelin has built its motorsport program around Formula E and the World Endurance Championship, according to Motorsport.com. F1 tires haven’t changed much since Michelin exited the sport after 2006, apart from Pirelli adding ever-more rubber compounds.
The sport’s rule-makers have mulled over the idea of switching larger, 18-inch tires, in a bid to create a more road-relevant formula. The proposal seemed like it could become a reality in 2015 after Martin Brundle conduct a demonstration run in Monaco, though the test ultimately was Pirelli’s way of showing it could develop that product if it was asked to in a bid to retain its exclusive deal.
“As a leader we love to take risks and that’s what we want to continue,” Couasnon told Motorsport.com.
“We’ve been talking about 18-inch tires with Formula One for many years, I think since 2010, and we’ve not been able to convince the parties to take that risk.”
F1’s opposition to even moderate changes, such as smaller sidewalls, is a dramatic difference from what Michelin faces in FE and the WEC.
In the all-electric series, for example, Michelin created a low-profile tire that utilizes single all-weather compound — as opposed to manufacturing both dry-weather slicks and treaded wet-weather tires. This not only means the cars use tires that are extremely similar to the ones on road cars, but also that Michelin needs far less rubber to supply FE than it would F1.
The concept has been so successful, in fact, that Couasnon suggests Michelin could try to convince other championships such as the WEC to adopt it.
“Motorsport is a show which means something in terms of technology, you need to find a proper cursor,” Couasnon told Motorsport.com.
Thumbnail photo via Formula E