Michelin: F1 return possible in event of regulation change

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Michelin motorsport director Pascal Couasnon has revealed that the French tire manufacturer would be open to a return to Formula 1 if the technical regulations are changed in the next few years.

Michelin last supplied tires to the sport back in 2006 alongside Bridgestone, but remains involved in a number of FIA series such as the World Endurance Championship and Formula E.

Speaking to Italian publication Autosprint, Couasnon explained how Michelin would be open to a return to F1, but only if the conditions were right.

“We are fully open to a return,” Couasnon said. “But on some precise conditions.

“Formula 1 must change its technical regulations. Tires must become a technical object again, not just a tool to do a more-or-less spectacular show.

“We want 18-inch tires, which we already use in Formula E and soon in another series. If F1 wants to consider our proposals, we are here, fully open, with a strong will to return.”

Pirelli has been the sole supplier in F1 since 2011, but with its current contract set to expire at the end of 2016, there is speculation about possible changes that could be made to tires for 2017.

The 18-inch designs are being evaluated by Pirelli in a bid to make F1 more road-relevant, but this could open up the possibility of a tire war between the two manufacturers.

However, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is skeptical about Michelin entering the sport with a longer lasting tire, expressing his uncertainty to Autosport.

“All Michelin would do is make a rock-hard tire that you could put on in January and take off in December because they don’t want to be in a position where they can be criticized,” Ecclestone said.

The F1 Strategy Group is meeting in London on Thursday along with Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt about possible changes for the sport, with tire specification set to be a key talking point.