Rumours are rife in the paddock that Michelin tyres may be planning a return to the glamorous world of Formula One.
The french tyres manufacturer has scheduled an announcement for the middle of this week, according to a report by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport yesterday.
The report suggested that Michelin, which exited the sport in 2006 when its tyre war with Bridgestone ended, could announce its interest in bidding for an F1 tender.
The rumours might explain the long delay over news of Pirelli’s continued participation as the sport’s controversial official tyre supplier, even though Paul Hembery insists plans for the 2014 season are well advanced and talks between the teams and Pirelli over 2014 were ongoing in Hungary.
Pirelli have said they need to make the rear tyres wider to cope with the higher torque of the turbo V6s, and Mercedes strongly agrees, but teams like Ferrari and Red Bull are fighting hard for the dimensions to remain essentially the same in 2014.
“We will decide alone,” Hembery insisted, “no matter what the teams want. They just need to give us their data.”
A big spanner in the works, however, could be the new Michelin factor.
But correspondent Michael Schmidt wondered: “Can they (Michelin) be ready for 2014? Surely not – it would be a very late call.”
That is because the teams are scheduled to know the precise specification of the 2014 tyres by 1 September this year.
Much more likely is that Michelin might announce F1 intentions for 2015.
Hembery is quoted as saying: “We want clarity this year.
“Our contracts with the rights holder and some of the teams are for the next five years.
“If we are confronted next year with a tender for 2015, we’ll be gone.”