MONACO (Reuters) - Formula One is stuck in the past with its current tyre sizes and should switch to bigger ones that are more commercially relevant, according to Michelin motorsport director Pascal Couasnon.
“Staying with 13-inch tyres is a form of treading ground,” he said in a question and answer sheet issued by the French manufacturer on Friday.
“Formula One has successfully become more modern in many areas but it is not a hotbed of innovation in the realm of tyres. Single-seater cars racing on 13-inch tyres are a thing of the past.”
Formula One’s governing body announced on Thursday a tender to be the sport’s sole tyre supplier from 2017-19, a role currently filled by Pirelli.
Pirelli are seen as favorites to continue but the FIA has not ruled out a switch to bigger tyres, with Michelin favoring 18-inch ones and likely to tender if a rule change was accepted.
“The chief reason why we want to switch to 18-inch tyres is that they permit the development of new technologies that can be used for mass-produced road tyres,” said Couasnon.
“We believe it is impossible to transfer technology from small-diameter tyres with tall side walls...we need racing tyres to have a similar profile to road tyres to be in a position to develop new technologies.”
Couasnon said he felt the idea of bigger tyres was gaining ground, with the new electric Formula E series already using them and junior formulae such as Formula Renault 3.5 also preparing for a change.
“It seems to me that it’s a move that makes sense,” added the Frenchman.
Pirelli has already conducted tests with 18-inch rims while former F1 driver and television commentator Martin Brundle drove a GP2 car around the Monaco circuit on Friday in a demonstration run with the bigger tyres.
“I really like the look of the 18 inch wheels on single seater. Car felt great but big problem is that you can’t see apex kerbs or barriers. At all,” the Briton reported on Twitter.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis