Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier answers questions on the recent tyre ruling by the FIA. Q: The media have mentioned that a protest was lodged with the FIA concerning the width of Michelin's front F1 tyres. What is this all ...
Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier answers questions on the recent tyre ruling by the FIA.
Q: The media have mentioned that a protest was lodged with the FIA concerning the width of Michelin's front F1 tyres. What is this all about?
PD: "There are indeed rumours about a protest and following this, the FIA has decided to measure the tread widths of used tyres at the end of a race and not new tyres before a race as has been the case up until now. In fact, amongst the many and complex sporting and technical regulations by which motorsports and F1 in particular abide, there is one (Article 77c of the Sporting Regulations) which states that in Formula One, 'the tread width of the front tyres must not exceed 270mm'."
Q: And Michelin's tyres exceed this limit?
PD: "Of course not! We presented our tyres to the FIA in 2001 and up to and including the Hungary Grand Prix, the FIA has always authorised all our tyres. The geometry of our tyres has not changed at all since 2001. When new, the tread width of our front tyres does not exceed 270mm."
Q: So what has changed now?
PD: "Following the Hungary Grand Prix, the FIA has changed its interpretation of the regulation and they now state that with immediate effect, the tread width of the front tyre must not exceed 270mm, not only when new, but at any moment."
Q: What is your view?
PD: "I'm sure you'd agree with me that it's not the 2, 3 or 4 mm of tread that is going to change the state of play in Formula One at the moment. However, one thing I do believe is that it will be almost impossible to define an objective method to measure the limits of a tread after running. A tyre when running deforms, gathers 'pick-up' off the track......"
Q: Why has this problem come up now?
PD: "That's a very good question! We are three races from the end of what is a very close and exciting World Championship and the lead in the race for the manufacturers' title has just changed hands. So who has the most to gain from such an action ?"
Q: What is the advantage of a 'wide' tyre?
PD: A tyre is an eternal compromise. For example, as Bridgestone's Technical Director M. Suganuma himself says in a recent internet article: "A wider contact patch gives better grip at the front, more effective braking, better handling in tight corners and certainly less understeer." Our competitor has apparently tested a wide tyre option but it would appear that Ferrari did not choose this solution and preferred to go down the narrow tyre path which favours the aerodynamics of the car."
Q: Do you think that is the best choice?
PD: "We know that for a car which has been meticulously optimised in aerodynamics, like the Ferrari, narrow tyres are necessary. But we also know that in the development of the chassis/aerodynamics/tyre package, sacrificing tyre performance in favour of the other options is not the best solution. As far as Michelin is concerned, we work very closely indeed with our partners to enable them to get the absolute best out of our tyres. I think our results show this is the best choice."
Q: So how will you deal with the current situation?
PD: "The new interpretation of the rules by the FIA has forced us to react. You don't think for one moment that Michelin would not respond to the challenge? Our people have been working 24 hours a day since last Wednesday and new tyres are being tested in Monza as we speak. For anyone that knows anything about the tyre world, to do what we've just managed is a huge achievement and this is only possible thanks to the hard work and fast reaction time of our teams here in Clermont-Ferrand"