PARIS (Oct. 28) — Groupe Michelin is calling recent changes to rules covering tires for Formula 1 racing next year a "step backwards" and "incoherent with the...proclaimed policy to reduce costs."
Michelin estimates the changes, which will allow teams to make tire changes during races, will increase tire development, production and logistics costs by 15 percent. The Federation International de l´Automobile, F1 racing´s sanctioning body, made the change this week, reversing a rule change it had made in 2004 for the 2005 season requiring competitors to qualify and race on the same set of tires.
"This decision reveals a lack of technical understanding of the product and of what a tire really is," Michelin said in prepared statement.
To switch from a tire designed to run for 220 miles in 2005 to a tire that can be changed every 60 miles or less in 2006 will require tire makers to design an entirely new generation of tires and will therefore increase costs, Michelin said.
"As many have said and written in the past few weeks," the firm said, "we can only question the meaning behind this decision, which negates all of the benefits of Michelin´s research in 2005 to design a tire capable of running for (220 miles), allowing its partners to win 18 races throughout the year."
Michelin, therefore, said it questions the FIA´s "hidden motivations" for the 2006 F1 regulation and "illustrates...F1´s problems of incoherent decision-making and lack of transparency."
Michelin also said its partner teams sought to, in vain, to block the rules change.