August 26, 2013 / 7:04 AM / 6 years ago

Michelin is open to returning to Formula One: report

French tyremaker Michelin's flag with a Bibendum, the Michelin Man mascot, is pictured in front of the company's headquarters in Clermont Ferrand, central France, July 10, 2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s Michelin said it was open to supplying tires to Formula One racing teams next season if it can agree terms with the sport’s governing body, according to an interview in le Figaro.

Italy’s Pirelli is currently the only supplier of tires for Formula One racing teams, and it said on Saturday that contracts were already signed for next season with 10 of the 11 teams.

Pascal Couasnon, who directs Michelin’s competition unit, said Michelin had sent messages to the International Automobile Federation (FIA) although no date was set for discussions. “Our position is now known. If they are willing to talk... we are ready to do so,” Couasnon said.

One issue is the size of the tires. Michelin wants to make Formula One tires with an 18 inch rim, said Couasnon. Pirelli tires this season for Formula One are 13 inch.

Michelin’s possible return to Formula One comes seven years after it withdrew from the competition, and comes after rival Pirelli has been dogged by tire blowouts this year.

Pirelli had sought to design tires to wear quickly to shake up the race strategy and encourage overtaking, but the new models have had safety issues. Pirelli has had to make the tires more durable and revert to last year’s structure with 2013 compounds.

Couasnon said if Michelin were to supply tires for Formula One next season then discussions with the FIA would need to be concluded before the end of October.

Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Louise Heavens

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