Date: 27th August 2013 at 8:40am
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Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli appears to have a direct competitor for F1’s 2014 contract in the form of French tyre manufacturer Michelin.

Pirelli have recently hit out at Formula One for allowing the contract negotiations over next season drag on for so long.

With only seven months until the start of the new 2014 Formula One World Championship the sport currently does not have an official tyre manufacturer signed up.

Pirelli has agreed deals with most of the Formula One teams and F1’s commercial rights holder, but has yet to agree or sign a deal with the FIA.

However Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t believe that’s an issue telling the media: “We don’t need one, I don’t think, They are nothing to do with commercial. The FIA’s position is that they are regulators. They regulate all the regulations that have been agreed.”

With the first pre-season winter test in January 2014, Pirelli have been keen to get everything wrapped up officially with Formula One Management and the FIA, but now they could face a new challenge in the form of Michelin.

Director of Michelin’s Competition Department Pascal Couasnon has revealed that they would be ready to enter Formula One as soon as 2014, but they also insist that a deal would have to be concluded soon to create a feasible time scale.

‘Our position is now known. If they are willing to talk, we are ready to do so,’

‘There must be a time when it is no longer possible – we still need the physical time to produce tires. By the end of October, it may be too late.’
Couasnon said to Le Figaro as quoted by Sky Sports.

But Michelin’s involvement in Formula One would come with quite a few conditions according to the French tyre manufacturer.

They would not support the current provisions given to Pirelli by Formula One which have created a lot of exciting racing and also a lot of criticism.

All of the recent Formula One tyre scares have come about due to the request from the FIA, the sports governing body, to develop tyres that degrade quickly.

This has been done to mix up tyre strategy, with one set of tyres which run faster lap times but do not last very long and one set of tyres which are slower but more durable.

The idea behind this is to create additional pit-stops and tyre strategy, with drivers and teams having to work through different phases during the Grand Prix.

In the main, along with the introduction of DRS and KERS Formula One has become far less predictable, but this season the pendulum appears to have shifted with much more emphasis on tyre performance than previously expected and this has seen Pirelli come under fire from the teams and spectators.

Michelin would not support this if they were to enter Formula One.

‘We follow F1 closely but how it is presented today I do not like it at all, It disappoints me and even makes me almost angry. F1 is not changing a tyre after a few laps, or even a few turns, we offer a beautiful image of an important product for the automotive industry.’ Couasnon added.

Michelin would also like to see the diameter of the wheels increase from 13 inches to 18.

‘One of the challenges we want to bring is a tyre upscale, If F1 is ready to take the format of 18-inch rims, we will go running! It would certainly be a strong contract condition.’

In September the World Motor Sport Council could opt to open a tender process in regards to Formula One’s Official tyre supplier.