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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”