The decision about Formula One’s tyre supplier for 2017-19 is now in the hands of Bernie Ecclestone after both Pirelli, which currently has the contract, and Michelin both passed a technical and safety hurdle.
After emerging as the only two manufacturers to submit tenders to the FIA, it falls on commercial rights holder Ecclestone to weigh up the commercial aspects of each bid.
Ecclestone is due to hold discussions over the coming weeks with Paul Hembery and Pascal Couasnon, the motorsport directors of Pirelli tyres and Michelin tyres espectively, before announcing the winner of the 2017-19 deal in September.
Hembery has informed AUTOSPORT: “Obviously we have a history of 100 years of motorsport, and we’ve been in Formula 1 for five years. That’s a basis for a lot of the validation, if you like, from the FIA’s point of view. We’re a known, established, high-quality provider to the motorsport world, and that’s really the approval basis.
“In terms of the technical aspects, we’ve said we’ll comply with the requirements of Formula 1. If they want to make changes to the regulations then we will give our maximum endeavours to follow them. We will follow the rules and comply with the decisions of the teams, promoter and the FIA.
“We obviously have no idea as to what proposals they [Michelin] have made, and what proposals they will make to Bernie. Ultimately it’s a commercial decision now.
“The FIA has done its part, which is to qualify the supplier, and now it’s down to the commercial rights holder to decide the most appropriate partner for the sport.
“We will, of course, enter into a phase of discussion with the promoter, looking at all aspects of the commercial agreement.
“I’m sure he’ll do the same with the other party and then make an informed decision.”
Michelin is keen to introduce 18-inch rims into F1, in line with current road cars, and also produce a longer-lasting tyre that would allow drivers to push to the maximum more often during a grand prix.
However, Ecclestone hinted recently that Michelin’s return to F1, after being absent since 2006, would not be good, suggesting all it would do is “make a rock-hard tyre you could put on in January and take off in December because they don’t want to be in a position where they can be criticised”.
Denna Bowman, Head Office