Rumours within the paddock indicate that French tyre supplier Michelin could well be considering a return to Formula 1, amid continued unrest between the teams and Pirelli. This season alone has seen many tyre failures, with the fiasco at the British Grand Prix creating worldwide consternation with regards to Pirelli’s future in the sport.
Since Pirelli’s return to Formula 1 in 2011, the sport has entered a new era with an increased emphasis on multi pit-stops during a Grand Prix weekend. At first such an idea was a novelty within the paddock, with the higher levels of degradation creating a rethink of strategies up and down the paddock and subsequently much more action in a race. However recent events have changed that approach, with many drivers and teams alike less than happy with Pirelli’s now controversial P Zero and Cinturato range of tyres.
With the latest edition to the ongoing tyre fiasco unfolding during Friday practice of the Belgian Grand Prix, rumours linking other major tyre suppliers as replacements for Pirelli have resurfaced. The latest supplier linked with the role is former French supplier Michelin, who last worked in Formula 1 back in 2006 during the famous Michelin vs Bridgestone tyre war. Eventually they left the sport at the end of the 2006 season after ongoing issues between the company and the sport.
Although Michelin were previously quoted explaining that they would only re-enter the sport if there was another supplier involved, therefore recreating another tyre war, the French supplier has seemingly changed its stance in recent weeks. Recent reports within the paddock indicate that they would only return if certain demands were met, such as a move away from the multi pit-stop approach which seems to have become the norm over recent years with Pirelli. This in turn could well see the return of teams focusing on one-stop strategies, which has since become a rarity.
Another new aspect Michelin would potentially bring to the sport would be the intriguing technology of treadless wet weather tyres. This would effectively spark the end of grooved wet weather tyres in Formula 1, regarding the technology proves to be an improvement on the current grooved intermediate and full wet weather tyres. According to the BBC, Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is soon to meet with Michelin director of motorsport Pascal Couasnon to further discuss the possibilities of a return to the sport.
Although Pirelli has insisted that Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso’s tyre issues were caused by a strip of metal from Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus on the track at Turn 13, it seems rumours linking other tyre suppliers to the sport is far from over.
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