As Formula 1 arrived in Turkey it looked increasingly likely that Pirelli had won the race to supply the world championship with tyres in 2011. But then Michelin's motorsport chief Nick Shorrock flew in to Istanbul for one final bid to convince the teams that the French company was the better option.
AUTOSPORT heard the latest on the situation direct from Shorrock after a 90-minute meeting with the F1 team bosses in the paddock this morning.
Q. What can you tell us about the meeting from this morning?
Nick Shorrock: There was no intention to change anything. The objective of this morning was simply to make sure that the teams had fully understood the details of our offer. That is as it has always been - in line with what the company sees as the future of competition, and within the values that the company wants to respect - which is essentially of open competition, which is being able to demonstrate the technical capability of our product and also that there is a respect for the environment.
Q. Are the teams now going away to think about it?
NS: I don't know. I am sure the teams listened, they asked questions and we have tried to clarify as much as possible any doubts that they had.
Q. Are you optimistic that you will be the chosen ones?
NS: I don't know. We will see. We are still open to the discussions if that is what they wish.
Q. Has there been any indication of the way they are intending to go?
Q. So there were no improved terms? It was not as though you came here with a cheaper deal?
NS: Not at all, no. It was suggested that it would be useful to come and explain, face to face, with all the teams the details of that offer. And that is what the intention was, that is the objective and I hope that is what has been achieved.
Q. What is the timetable of when you need a definitive decision - because we are nearly in June and nobody knows what tyres they are going to run on...
NS: That is the thing that we have said all along - that a tyre is not something that you put on easily to an F1 car. It needs a certain amount of work, and that is what we have done. We would like a decision as quickly as possible.
Q. There has been talk of a test this summer to allow some running with the new tyre. Is that going to be possible if you get the deal?
NS: Absolutely, yes.
Q. Last time you were in F1 you had grooved tyres. How much of that technology can carry over into the slicks?
NS: There is a logical evolution in terms of tyre performance. Let's not forget that Michelin is very much present in competition as a whole, even if we have not been in F1. We are very present in other disciplines and notably in endurance racing, and particularly in a couple of weeks we will be in Le Mans for the 24 hour race. That type of racing brings us enormous information.
Looking at the endurance tyre, if you look at the last 10 years, the durability of the Michelin tyre has increased by 35 per cent, while car speeds have increased by 10 per cent. That is something we know how to do - and it is part of our basic profession in order to make a tyre that is safe and useable in a competitive environment.
Q. Is the 18-inch concept still part of your future plans?
NS: We have proposed that we try to bring the sport in line to demonstrate the technical capability of our product, but also moving towards things that are more in phase with what the automotive industry today is doing. Our basic product today is 18-inch.
Q. There have been suggestions that teams on pure technical terms favour the Michelin route, but on commercial terms they prefer Pirelli. Is that frustrating for you?
NS: It is not a frustration. It is something that we aware of. If we come back to the basis of why we would consider returning to F1, it is very much linked not just with the Michelin competition division, but the group overall. It is about our values, of linking that to the technical element - which is our tyre and our base product. And this link with the positive evolution of the environment.
Q. And the money issue?
NS: We have made a proposal, which we believe is reasonable - and is not exaggerated. It is up to the teams to decide which way they want to go.
Q. Is there a deadline for when you absolutely must know?
NS: It is not our role to set a deadline for FOTA. It is the environment of FOTA, the FIA and FOM that have the job of evolving the sporting regulations in this particular instance. It is not for us to dictate when the deadline is.
Q. Have the teams told you when they will get back to you?