Greenville, S.C. (December 16, 1999) - Worldwide tire-maker Michelin announced today that it is entering Formula One competition with the BMW/Williams and Toyota teams. The announcement complements the company's outstanding record in racing activities, including the American Le Mans Series and Skip Barber in North America as well as World Rallying, GT, Motorbike Grand Prix 500, Superbike, endurance racing and just about any other major sport in the world that relies on tires.
"This decision is part of our worldwide strategy," said Edouard Michelin, Chief Executive of the Michelin Group, "Racing, and Fl in particular, present a very strong potential in terms of communicating our technological leadership. Our entry in F1 will help us reinforce our position in Europe and gain recognition and improve our presence in Asia and South America. It will also increase our racing presence in North America. We are convinced that this is a good investment."
Starting with the 2001 Grand Prix season, Michelin will team up with and supply tires to BMW/Williams. BMW and Michelin won the 24 Hours of Le Mans earlier this year. Prior to the 2003 season, Michelin will become the tire. supplier for Team Toyota, which confirmed its entry into F1 earlier this week. In 1999, Michelin and Toyota shared the podium in Rally and GT competition.
"We are well acquainted with the racing teams of Toyota and BMW/Williams," said Pierre F1 Michelin's Director of Racing. "Even though we have not been competing in Formula One in recent years, Michelin has kept a close eye on the sport and its evolution. We look forward to taking on the challenge and I assure you that we will bring our reputation for technology and quality service to be competitive."
"We are particularly excited in North America because we believe that with the re-introduction of the U.S. Grand Prix, Formula One is about to experience. a renaissance of sorts in the United States," said Herb Johnson, Director of Motorsports for Michelin North America. "The technology, style and atmosphere that Formula One offers is truly unique. Competing in the U.S. Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be very special and complement the highly successful, long established Canadian Grand Prix."
Michelin introduced radial tires to Formula One racing in 1977. Before exiting the sport in 1984, every F1 car was equipped with radial tires. In total, Michelin scored 59 wins, three Driver's World Champion titles and two Manufacturer's World Champion titles.
Despite its past success, Michelin considers its current Formula One plan as the start of a new adventure. As Edouard Michelin explained, "this sport has evolved considerably in the past 15 years. That's why we say we are entering, not re-entering. Automotive technology has changed and tires have changed, too. It's going to be a challenge and at Michelin we love challenges."
Group Michelin is based in Clermont Ferrand, France, and manufactures tires and related products in 19 countries worldwide.