Editorial: the Michelin witch-hunt

Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier has been on the offensive against the FIA this week, condemning President Max Mosley’s insistence that Formula One become a single-tyre series in the future.

Mosley has been at great pains to use his much-vaunted survey of Formula One fans conducted earlier this year justification for the necessity of a single-tyre formula: to control speeds for safety reasons, to promote overtaking and to make the sport more accessible.

In an eloquent defence, Dupasquier insists that a series with mutliple tyre suppliers can still achieve these objectives:

?????ǣWe have two proposals for bringing down costs: fewer tyre types and restrictions concerning the distances covered in testing?????? this is something we have already put into application with another tyre manufacturer in world rallying.??????

Of course, proposals have already been put forward to the FIA to cut the outrageous expense of testing, but these were rejected last year despite support of nine of the ten teams (including all the Michelin ones). The FIA are strangely deaf to these appeals in spite of testing being the second greatest individual expense and of no consequence whatosever to the average fan – something that might have come across in the FIA survey had Mosley bothered to ask about it.

Michelin are expected to be gearing up to leave Formula One and many suggest a degree of partiality on the part of the FIA towards rivals Bridgestone is a pivotal factor. The grooved tyre regulations drove Bridgestone’s first rival Goodyear out of the sport, and there was no question of any other tyre firm getting the exclusive tyre supply contract for this year’s inaugural GP2 season.

Michelin have twice suffered at the hands of the FIA. In 2003, when the governing body decided to change the interpretation of tyre width rules on the request of Ferrari, forcing Michelin to change a tyre construction they had been using for three years. And, most infamously, the FIA were unwilling to make any compromise to allow Michelin-shod teams to race after they discovered faults on their tyres at this year’s United States Grand Prix.

On the crucial issue of whether a single-tyre formula would be good for Formula One it should be remembered that the last years with just a single tyre supplier – 1999 and 2000 – were little better than those that preceded or followed them in terms of pure racing.

Dupasquier is an intelligent man and he and Michelin have an almost unparalleled depth of experience in providing tyres for a great range of international motorsport. The FIA would do well to pay attention to him.

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