Why There’s More Than Just the Cars Riding on the Right F1 Tyres

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It might seem like a big fuss over something very simple, but there’s more than just the cars riding on Bridgestone’s selection of tyres for each Grand Prix.

You only have to look back a few years when Michelin made a monumental mistake to remind yourself how bringing the wrong tyres to the party can cost the race.

It happened during the US Grand Prix in 2005, after Michelin discovered that its tyres were incapable of more than 10 laps at race pace.

The whole thing descended into farce when 14 cars pulled peeling off into the pit lane after the parade lap and pulled out of the race.

Just six cars started the race – because it was back in day when there wasn’t one sole tyres supplier and three out of the 10 teams had chosen the Bridgestone tyres over the Michelin’s.

The first indication of trouble was when the rear left tyre of Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota exploded during practice and he collided with the track wall at 186mph!  Michelin then discovered another ten tyres had suffered problems, with one also failing on track.

It is believed that Michelin may not have properly accounted for the grooves cut into the Indianapolis track to improve grip for Indy cars after the track was resurfaced.  Indy cars have smaller down-force generating wings so need more grip from their tyres than Formula One cars.

Under FIA racing regulations, the only course of action was for the Michelin runners to withdraw from the race on safety grounds, because rules prevented alternative tyres from being flown in overnight from France.

All this meant Michelin ended up refunding the 120,000 spectators ticket prices and it tainted the reputation of Formula 1 in the US – which hosted its last Grand Prix in 2007!

Alex Kapadia, Operations Team

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