Michelin’s preparations for its fast-approaching entry into Formula One in 2001 continue to gather speed with the completion of its first full-scale track tests at the BMW-owned Miramas facilities in the South of France. The work included two four-day sessions in early April and the first week of May, with Denmark’s Tom Kristensen driving for the Michelin F1 Test Team in a BMW-engined Williams FW21B fitted with the firm’s latest development tires.
Michelin engineers are extremely pleased with the positive progress made during each of these sessions, although they are keen to point out that the conditions of the tests — choice of location, the engine/chassis package, objectives, etc. — mean that no direct comparisons can be made with current F1 lap times.
“These first tests have allowed us to confirm the results of all our computer simulation work carried out at our test center. So far we have essentially concentrated on working through a broad selection of compounds and constructions to provide an initial basis from which to build,” explains Michelin’s Manager for Worldwide Competition, Pierre Dupasquier. “As our program progresses, we will start to look at specific solutions for individual circuits.”
Driving the laboratory test car, Tom Kristensen put a variety of tire combinations to the test in dry conditions before the track was artificially sprayed to allow Michelin to collect valuable data concerning the performance of its wet weather rubber.
“I feel very honored to be the first driver to put Michelin’s latest generation of Formula One tires through their paces,” commented Kristensen. “I am very impressed by the progress already made between the two tests. Michelin’s engineers are very attentive and I have really enjoyed both sessions.”
Michelin’s development team currently is busy at its Clermont-Ferrand base processing the vast quantity of information acquired in Miramas where more than 1,000 KM of testing was completed. The next phase of Michelin’s program will start to fine-tune initial findings at select Grand Prix circuits across the world.
Michelin announced in December 1999 that BMW/Williams F1 team (in 2001) and Toyota, (some time before 2003) will ride on Michelin tires in F1 competition. Michelin also announced in March 2000 that it will partner with Jaguar Racing starting with the 2001 F1 season.
Michelin will make its debut at the first race of the 2001 season, ending a 16-year absence from the sport. In 1977, Michelin brought the radial revolution to F1 with the introduction of the first-ever radial racing tire. When the company left Formula One competition in 1984, all F1 cars were on radial tires. In all, Michelin scored 59 wins, three Drivers’ World Championship titles and two Manufacturer’ World Championship titles.
The Michelin Group employs 127,000 people worldwide and has production facilities in 19 countries. Michelin’s headquarters are located in Clermont- Ferrand, France.
Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks and the space shuttle. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelin.com ) employs 27,000 and operates 23 plants in 21 locations