Michelin announced on December 14th that it will withdraw from Formula One after the 2006 season. The decision does not come as a big surprise as the French manufacturer has been unhappy with the rules concerning tyres for some time and has also been on uneasy footing with the FIA since the events of the US Grand Prix.
Michelin does not agree with the "inevitable" move to a single tyre supplier from 2008 and that "constant changes" to the regulations made planning for the future impossible, so there was no longer the interest to invest in F1.
"This decision is the result of profound differences between Michelin's long-standing sporting philosophy and the way Formula One is managed by the regulating authorities, which no longer provide a clear and sustainable environment to justify long-term investments," said Edouard Michelin.
"For Michelin, leaving Formula One in no way represents abandoning motorsports, to which the Michelin brand has been committed for 117 years. If F1's ways of functioning were to be significantly modified, Michelin would not hesitate in proposing its services to the different teams once again."
Michelin believes its departure will bring the single tyre supplier rule into force in 2007. It that happens, "it should be possible to verify if the FIA's vaunted advantages of control tyres are proven and, in particular, if equality amongst teams really is guaranteed."
Edouard Michelin added: "No matter what, Michelin will do everything possible to ensure that its partners receive the best service and the best tyres to help them win during the 2006 season, as has always been the case since our return to Formula One in 2001."
In response to Michelin's announcement the FIA stated: "The competing teams have repeatedly and unanimously requested the FIA to impose a single tyre supplier in Formula One. This has been agreed for 2008, but Michelin's announcement makes it probable for 2007. The teams will certainly be glad of this."
The sport's governing body added that a single tyre supplier would make F1 "fairer, safer and less expensive," and concluded that "above all, it will avoid a repetition of the problem which arose at the 2005 US Grand Prix."