Michelin Hails Multi-Team Approach

Formula One tyre maker Michelin has claimed that its brilliant start to the 2005 season was helped by the sharing of development work among a host of front-running teams - rather than focusing on just one outfit, as rival Bridgestone does

The Clermont-Ferrand based company has won both races so far this year, with main opposition Ferrari on Bridgestone tyres clearly struggling for pace with their updated F2004M car.

Michelin's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier believes that the switch to long-life tyres this year has meant the company's tactic of working with several teams has paid off - whereas in the past Ferrari appeared to have gained an advantage by having their tyres tailored to a specific car.

Speaking about why the combination of Bridgestone and Ferrari were not as strong as they were in 2004, Dupasquier said: "If a set of tyres is to last 350 kilometres (about 220 miles) during a race weekend, it is vital to get the construction right, as well as the compound.

"Working with several different teams creates added complications, but the flipside is that you get a much broader spectrum of testing input than you do with a single chassis type. As I often say, motorsport is a fantastic research laboratory for Michelin - but it is vital to retain an element of competition."

Dupasquier claims that Michelin spent much of its winter experimenting with all of its teams to try and find various set-ups and tyres that were best-suited to specific drivers and cars.

"Those of us working within Michelin are convinced that a race will be won by the driver who is smart enough to calculate the best set-up in terms of aerodynamics, engine mapping, grip and traction," he said in a team interview.

"Throughout the winter, we worked hard with all our partners. We bore in mind their own individual requirements but didn't do special favours for any of them. In our eyes, you can't draw definitive conclusions about the plus or minus points of tyres, aerodynamics or whatever on the evidence of a race result alone.

"Ferrari and its tyre partner have taken a calculated decision to forge a dedicated partnership. That was their choice - and it's also the principal reason that many of our teams decided to switch to Michelin."

After spending so long in F1, however, Dupasquier is well aware that if it is deemed an advantage for tyre manufacturers to now work with a host of teams, then there may be a chance that some of Michelin's current teams may be poached to switch to Bridgestone next year.

"We have no reason to believe that recent trends will be reversed or that any of our partners might make such a change, unless of course any financial incentives came into play," he said.

"But my team and I are very wary: we have a lot of respect for the work that Bridgestone's technicians do. They will make progress and that obliges us to do likewise. As you see, a competitive edge in motorsport is a source of constant progress and forces us to look very hard at every little detail."

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