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Lack of technology transfer keeping Michelin away from F1

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Michelin, the company which introduced the radial tyre into Formula 1, has no interest in returning to Grand Prix racing.

The French manufacturer enjoyed several successful periods of presence in F1, but pulled out from the sport in 2006.

Its interest was rekindled last year but F1's reluctance to change tyre criteria and specifications ultimately kept the company away.

A prominent supplier to the WEC, Michelin is also the exclusive supplier to Formula E, a series which, like endurance racing, allows for a substantial technology transfer from racing to road cars, according to motorsport boss Pascal Couasnon.

The French manager underscores the need for its racing activities to benefit its range of road car tyres, something an involvement in F1 would not provide, he says.

"Michelin wants to race with a challenge. Obviously when you have competition, your challenge is right there," Couasnon said in Hong Kong on Friday.

"But if you work with the FIA, you work with Formula E, and say OK why don’t you introduce a new rule that makes it more difficult for the tyre maker, then you have your own challenge. That’s what we want.

"We don’t want to race in a series where either there is no challenge or challenges that do not make sense for your car and mine. If there is a challenge, even if we are by yourself, it is OK. Formula E’s a perfect example."

Formula 1, with its wide range of compounds and their short lifespan, obviously does not fit Michelin's agenda and purpose.

"Formula 1 today, to be honest with you, we talked about 18-inch tyres, smaller sidewalls - that’s what you see in the street. If you learn something you can transfer it quickly.

"With the big side tyre wall, you don’t learn something useful. You spend a lot of money for changing tyres every seven-to-10 laps and having technology that you can really deploy on an everyday car.

"I love Formula 1, but in terms of pure technology for the tyre, that’s not the most useful series for today."

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