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Michelin’s Withdrawal from F1

I don’t suppose that the disaster of last year’s Indianapolis Grand Prix has any bearing on Michelin’s decision to withdraw from F1 at the end of this season, but the prospect of a single tire supplier to the formula is an interesting one, whether it be Bridgestone or any other. To my surprise, quite a few fans have voiced concern over such a scenario; to me, it seems that only good can come of it.

Michelin F1 tire

The problem with there being more than one tire supplier is that it raises questions over results of races. At any given moment, one make of tire is better suited to conditions than another, thereby giving an advantage to the teams on that tire. There have been long periods when a supplier has produced tires much better than others and races become boringly predictable as a result. It was not that long ago that Michael Schumacher was the inevitable pick for every race win, so great was his advantage on Bridgestone tires. We thought the Ferrari had a technological lead but how much was actually due to the tires?

It is impossible to say, of course, and it is this that I dislike in the addition of tire choice to the F1 equation. There are enough variables in engines, chassis, suspension, tactics and finance without considering the differing performances of tires. The more variables involved, the more difficult it is for a truly gifted driver to prove his worth.

Bridgestone F1 tire

It has always been true that, to win, a driver needs a car that is competitive at least. And I would not like to see a formula that standardizes the cars to allow the drivers to shine; the competition between designers and engineers is just as important to F1 as is driver skill. But tire wars tend to confuse the issue, leaving the question in everyone’s mind: how much of the win was due to the skill of the driver and the quality of his car, and how much to the superiority of his tires? It is inevitable that this detracts from the value of any race win; it is too easy to say, “It was the tire, not the driver, that won.”

For 2008, the FIA has decided that F1 should go to a standardized tire formula. For once, I agree with them wholeheartedly.

8 Responses to “Michelin’s Withdrawal from F1”

  1. I agree, World Superbikes and British Superbikes are one tyre make series and I believe it improves both championships. It forms a level playing ground for the bike tuners and race riders to do battle on.

  2. Absolutely, Mad. I’m sure it will do the same for F1.

  3. What are your views on the British GP on Saturday, Clive?

  4. Ah, I’m glad you asked that, John. I was saving my opinion on the British GP until closer to the day (perhaps Friday, just before Practice, would be a good time) but here’s my tip for the winner: Kimi Raikkonen in the McLaren. Or is that just wishful thinking…?

  5. Raikkonen will shine … and then the McLaren will blow up :D
    Micky the Shu will be caught trying to food poison every other driver with a half decent car and then the FIA will award him 10 championship points for his efforts.

  6. LOL Mad. Methinks I detect a certain cynicism there. After all, which of the drivers would be so stupid as to accept Mickey’s last Rolo…?

  7. Maybe they should have snipers riding shotgun so they can ping the other cars during the race. Now that would be a spectacle. :-)

  8. Oh, I think there are enough snipers in the blogosphere, John. But there was a time when each racer had a mechanic riding with him. Who’d have taken that job…?

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