F1 to reignite tire war? UPDATE #2 (GMM) A Michelin official has admitted the French marque is considering returning to formula one in 2011 as a tire supplier.
Speculation about Michelin's return gained momentum at Sepang last weekend, where team bosses met with Bernie Ecclestone and discussed at length how to handle the departure of Bridgestone as official supplier.
Michelin left F1 after an intense tire war with Bridgestone at the end of 2006, upset that the sport opted instead to mandate a single supplier.
Rumors in Malaysia said Michelin wants to be paid to return next year, and also favors a move from 13 to 18-inch wheel hub diameters, and would welcome a rival supplier to compete with.
A spokesman said in February that Michelin "might consider returning but there are some very clear conditions".
And in the wake of the latest reports, a representative of the Clermont Ferrand-based company told French daily Le Figaro: "We have made no decision.
"But we are closely monitoring the evolution of the regulations, knowing that we are committed to promoting the technical quality of our products and also the notion of respect for the environment," the Michelin official added. 04/02/10 (GMM) Friday's meeting with Bernie Ecclestone involving all the team bosses was almost exclusively about the tire supplier situation for 2011.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the leading figures are concerned that, 11 months prior to next season's world championship, it is not clear who will replace the departing official supplier Bridgestone.
The report said French marque Michelin, having pulled out at the end of 2006 upset about the end of the tire war, is willing to return but "wants money".
The rumored figure is between EUR2 and 5 million per team per season, and including free advertising around the grand prix circuits.
Interestingly, it has also been rumored that Bridgestone might rethink its decision to leave F1 if the teams pay for their supply contracts.
It is rumored that Ecclestone is proposing that the advertising revenue lost by giving Michelin free circuit hoardings should come out of general revenue -- in other words, the teams will get less.
|Bridgestone Tires stacked in the Sepang garage area|
But if F1 re-commenced a tire war, it would mean that Michelin's rivals - for example Hankook or Kumho - would compete for the signatures of the teams, leading to more favorable contract terms. 04/02/10 (GMM) Bridgestone spokesman Andy Stobart on Friday declined to comment on reports former rival Michelin could be about to return to F1, perhaps amid a new 'tire war' situation.
Bridgestone, currently F1's official sole supplier, has indicated it is pulling out of the sport at the end of 2010.
A spokesman for Michelin, the French marque that pulled out at the end of 2006 unhappy with the FIA's plans for a control supplier, said recently a return to F1 was being discussed "but there are some very clear conditions".
We reported in January that Korean tire makers Kumho and Hankook may be interested in racing in F1.
Asked about the situation during Friday's opening practice in Malaysia, Bridgestone's Stobart told BBC radio: "It's too early to comment on it."