Michelin to quit Formula One racing

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Michelin will end involvement with Formula One racing at the end of the 2006 season, making Bridgestone the circuit’s sole tire supplier. Michelin cited a longstanding point of contention between the company and FIA, the Formula One world governing body: “constant changes to racing regulations without warning.”

In June, Michelin pulled its U.S. Grand Prix teams off the track in a rules dispute, leaving only six cars in competition in Indianapolis. Michelin North America offered ticket holders a full refund, costing the company millions.

“The evolution towards a single tire supplier is inevitable,” says Michelin, which has supplied F1 tires since 2001 and won the circuit’s World Championship this year. “This decision is the result of profound differences between Michelin’s longstanding sporting philosophy and the way Formula One is managed by the regulating authorities, which no longer provide a clear and sustainable environment to justify long-term investments.”

The FIA responded to Michelin that participating teams had asked FIA to mandate a single tire manufacturer anyway. “This has been agreed for 2008, but Michelin’s announcement makes it probable for 2007,” the FIA says. Using one manufacturer would make F1 “fairer, safer and less expensive for the teams,” the FIA says.