Michelin could withdraw from F1

UPDATE Our spies tell us that the French tire company will announce that it will not enter the bidding for a series in which there is a control tire. This will leave the field open to Bridgestone or to anyone else who wishes to bid for the deal. It remains to be seen if there will be any serious bidders. Grandprix.com 09/05/05 Michelin have given strong indication that they will leave Formula One competition if the series goes ahead with plans for a single tire supplier in 2008. Motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier says he is not interested in being part of a series in which tire development has no added value in the outcome. Indications are Michelin are expected to announce their withdrawal from Formula One at next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

"As the world's leading tire manufacturer, that is something we cannot accept," he said in a prepared statement. "In day to day life, road car and truck manufacturers are forever coming to us with a view to developing new tires that optimize the running, comfort, road holding and energy efficiency of their vehicles, while in Formula One, a technological showcase if ever there was one, you're talking about tires becoming something banal."

"When you are the leading tire manufacturer, you have a responsibility vis-à-vis your profession, or in any case a responsibility as we see it at Michelin." FIA, the governing body of motorsports, has proposed a single tire manufacturer for Formula One starting in 2008 as part of a plan to control costs, reduce speeds and improve safety.

Dupasquier says he agrees with FIA's motives but says there are other ways to create a more level playing field with multiple tire manufacturers.

"We have two proposals for bringing down costs: fewer tire types and restrictions concerning the distances covered in testing," he said. "At $800 per kilometer covered in testing, that soon adds up to an appreciable saving. You could reasonably reduce the distance covered annually by each team by 20,000 km. Multiply that by ten teams, that comes to 200,000 km; a saving to F1 of $160-million"

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