Michelin To Become MotoGP Single Tire Supplier From 2016

Michelin has been named as the official tire supplier for MotoGP starting from 2016. The French tire manufacturer will take over the role from Bridgestone when Bridgestone leaves at the end of 2015 season.

The official announcement confirms the worst kept secret in the paddock. Michelin had been widely trailed as being awarded the contract, as the French firm had shown the most interest. Unofficial talks had taken place with Pirelli, and Dunlop had made a formal request for information, but Michelin was the only tire maker to submit a bid. Michelin has already been testing its 16.5" slicks at Vallelunga and Clermont Ferrand in preparation for a bid.

The bid to become single tire supplier marks something of a turnaround for the French tire maker. When Dorna decided to go to a single supplier in 2008, Michelin did not enter a bid, saying that they had no interest in racing if there was no competition. As more and more race series have gone single supplier, that position has become untenable. Tire development can happen, but it is driven by corporate goals rather than competition, as Bridgestone explained when they announced their decision to withdraw.

The fact that Michelin was the only tire manufacturer to submit a bid raises questions over the financial side of the contract. Bridgestone are reported to be paying some 22 million euros annually for the contract, but with Bridgestone out of the running, and Michelin the only party showing any interest, the question is whether Michelin got the contract at a bargain price. Commercial details of the deal will not be officially revealed, and so we are unlikely to get an official answer to that question.

The awarding of the contract is just the first step along the way. Next up will be the hammering out of a commercial agreement, which will include details on the quantity and variety of tires to be supplied. Dorna is known to want more tires at the races, but more particularly, they want more tires for testing. Testing will continue with test riders for the moment, with the first contact for all MotoGP riders likely to come at the first Sepang test of 2015, to provide feedback on the development process.

Below is the official press release announcing the deal:

Michelin to become MotoGP™ Official Tyre supplier

Following French tyre manufacturer Michelin’s official tender, Dorna is pleased to announce that Michelin is to become the Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ as of the 2016 World Championship season.

At the beginning of May 2014 Dorna, in agreement with the FIM, opened a tender for tyre manufacturers interested in becoming Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ from the 2016 season.

Interested tyre manufacturers were able to request the technical specifications from Dorna’s Managing Director Javier Alonso, with three potential tyre suppliers initially expressing an interest – before Michelin alone made a formal tender before the 22nd May deadline.

The next step in the process will be the drawing out of a commercial agreement between Dorna and Michelin as Official Tyre Supplier, Michelin having already clearly proven its technical abilities to respond to the needs of a demanding Grand Prix racing schedule.

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I do not like this. I remember when F1 went to replace Bridgestone Michelin put in an offer too, but they had specific demands on making the sport a lot 'greener'. Which, in motorsports, is one of the last words you want to hear.

Why is it that Dorna constantly repeat the same mistakes?

In 2008 only Bridgestone were interested in becoming single tyre supplier so Dorna gave them the contract and we ended up with the well documented tyre problems of the last 5 years.

So now we have a chance to change supplier and fix all that. We could have three or four suppliers bidding and take the best offer. Best for safety, best for rider choice, even the best for Dorna (cheapest) could be options. Oh wait... This is Dorna so the correct thing to do is repeat the mistakes of 2008 and accept Michelin as the new supplier without actually giving other companies a chance to make a proper bid or even knowing exactly what it is that Michelin will provide.

The inmates are running the asylum as usual.

You can't force tyre manufacturers to submit bids. While I'm sure that the very short deadline for bids worked in Michelin's favour, they were also the only major company not currently supplying at least one global series; Dunlop already have Moto2 and Moto3, Pirelli have WSBK, so neither really have an incentive to bid just for the media exposure.

And as for a bid being 'cheapest for Dorna', the tyre company has to pay Dorna, not the other way around.

There was an open bid opportunity, Michelin was the only one interested. Dunlop passed, Pirelli passed.

It obviously isn't all that desirable a prize

You have to realize that above all Dorna is looking out for Dorna's financial interest. The little discussed aspect of the switch to the spec tire is it went from a tire 'war' (also known as competition) with teams paying tire companies for their services and Dorna not being involved, aside from politicking, to a closed paddock with Bridgestone paying Dorna $20,000,000 a year (as rumors have it) for the privilege of advertising at the events. Any development BS has to do is on their tab so it is no surprise that details like testing at newly resurfaced tracks and real tire development as opposed to fixing last year's problems just does not happen. Add the $20M fee + the cost of making and transporting the tires and it is no wonder that BS had enough.

Now that Dorna has an 8 figure line item on their income sheets how could they possibly revert to the old system? They can't. They are at the mercy of whoever has a big enough marketing budget to afford it. Dunlop likely could not afford to make a proposal as they are already paying to supply tires to two other classes. Pirelli as well is forking over big dough to F1 for their participation. Who else is there? I wonder that the 'negotiations' with Michelin were like.

Also, this news has been decided long ago in closed rooms. A 3 week tender period? A multinational corporation can't even take 3 weeks to decide to make an offer, let alone work up a proposal and find a budget. Michelin just happened to be recently testing their bike slicks? Yes, and are you interested in a bridge for sale? And its not cheap.


Unfortunately that is a cashflow outwards project and right now I have to concentrate on some cashflow inward projects. It is inching along and as soon as I get a bit of time will make some more progress. My next milestone is a rolling chassis with engine mock-up. That's a few more castings and welding fixtures but the result will be a lot more convincing than the pile of seemingly random parts I have now.


Why an engine mockup? I thought you had a completed engine. Anyway, I've read every post from that bike's build since day one, and I can't wait to see it completed. For a long time my dream in life has been to do exactly what you're doing, I just lack the funds and the shop equipment. Some day, maybe.

While the 22 million euro contract with Bridgestone is clearly a major incentive for Dorna, the contract is also an incentive for the teams. During the tire wars, only a few teams received tires for free, with most of them forced to pay. If memory serves, Kenny Roberts' Team KR were paying 30000 euros a race weekend for tires, or about half a million dollars. Now, all of the teams get tires for free. So this has reduced costs for the teams, but raised costs for the factories, both the bike manufacturers, who have to design the bike to suit the tire, and (possibly) the tire manufacturers, who have to supply their tires for free. Then again, we don't know how much the tire manufacturers were spending on R&D and tire supply during the tire wars, and whether that was more or less than the fee they now pay to Dorna.

<< Bridgestone are reported to be paying some 22 million euros annually for the contract>>

From earlier discussions here about the Bridgestone contract, I got the impression that the 22 million euros was Bridgestone's total cost of participating, i.e. their total MotoGP budget, including R&D, manufacturing tires, logistics, technicians, management, trackside signage, servicing test sessions, etc. I got the impression that little or nothing was cash paid to Dorna. Did I have it right? Or did B'Stone write a check to Dorna for 22 million euros per year (and still have to spend millions more on all those other activities)?

There is a very big difference between the two, so I'm really curious about it.

Yes but in exchange for the 30K they had access to a large number of tires every weekend and design assistance to get tires tailored specifically for their bike and rider. Not everyone got the overnight specials but everyone did get 1 on 1 attention and another technical avenue to pursue for solutions. The result was the enabling of visibly different riding styles and race-long strategy that resulted in passing which make racing visually exciting.

Its the lack of variety with the spec tire and the idea of spec equipment in general which is most damaging to the sport's future. Variety is the spice of life and all.


Chris, I wish I could give you more than five stars on this. I couldn't agree more. Spec classes are all nice and well for cheap entry racing on a national level, but it has no place in GP's. Not only does it limit technical progress and diversity, like you say it even makes for less overtaking and very similar race results during the whole season, with few options to improve your chances.

All the time the argument of cost saving is being used, but in reality it is the constant rule changes themselves and the logistics that are the biggest cost factors, like Paul Denning of the Crescent Suzuki team recently also stated. Rebuilding engines is apparently a relatively minor cost. Tyres are a substantial cost, but redesigning your entire bike to suit the tyres is probably an even bigger cost, also more time-consuming and robbing you of possible engineering advantages. And so on...

That is funny that they are the only one to put in a bid as seeing that they were completely through with Motogp a few years ago. They are missing the attention. Sales must have slumped for them. Not all the way but enough to want to do this series.

However, when Michelin gets a tire right, they get a tire RIGHT. This is too early to be said, but if everything can be agreed on between Dorna and Michelin. I think lap times and records will fall immediately.

Bridgestone showed they worked in a wider range of conditions, but did not have the ultimate performance of the Michelins. When both tires were working at their best at a circuit, Michelin usually would win out. Looking forward to seeing how different people ride on the Michelins.

"Bridgestone showed they worked in a wider range of conditions, but did not have the ultimate performance of the Michelins"

Where were you in 2007/08?

Once Bridgestone partnered with competitive teams to help drive their development they were unstoppable. Their tires worked over a wider range of conditions and had better outright performance.

Lap times & records to fall immediately? My personal view is that we are currently seeing MotoGP was quick as it is will ever be. Lap records are being set all the time and new regs and a change in tire supplier means the current records could be around for a long time.

Paying to be a single supplier would seem to have some odd incentives built in. Presumably the benefit to the supplier is bragging rights - race on Sunday sell on Monday - but since there is only one brand, and riders always complain about their tires anyway, where is the upside in spending lavishly to improve a product that is less than free (actually a loss-leader)?

I forget where I saw it, but one reason someone suggested Bridgestone dropped out was because they really only got press outside of Dorna's control when things went sour (i.e. PI last year, Jerez this year). I will bet Michelin got a hell of a better deal than Bridgestone did.

Very interesting to see what economic realities have done to change Michelin's philosophy on racing. The changing landscape of commercially dominated racing has left this mighty bastion of open competition with no place to play. I imagine Michelin will prove more than competent at what has become a branding/R&D exercise but a word to the wise, mind the PR!

It may have been David himself or Mat Oxley that made that comment recently, but that's always going to be the case. The perfect analogy is a football referee... he only gets media attention when he has a bad day. No one makes a fuss when things go smoothly. It's always going to be the same for the tire supplier.

Conjecture begins...
Now we know it is Michelins on 17" wheels, that we are likely to get an intermediate, less overall grip, and if memory serves well a less firm construction. Cue the technical prowess amongst us, which manufacturers and riders are likely get major gains or losses? And what of the development leanings...are they inclined to work w and for a certain narrow application or broader?

I am inclined to say broader application but w considerably less grip. Top of my head I say winner Ducati (hey, every race is a rain race now!) and loser Yamaha (where is that front end feel?!). Winner Marquez (and all newer riders not so used to Bstone) and loser Lorenzo. But that is easy first blush of course.


One of the major advantages of the stiffer carcass Bridgestones is that the bike is more stable under hard braking - which has always suited the Hondas and Rossi (see Rossi's admission that the softer BS tyre from 2012 was a bad idea, but he didn't care because he was on a Ducati). That being the case, I expect it would suit Lorenzo more than Rossi or Pedrosa. Marquez, and other recent moto2 riders, seem to let the bike move around much more under braking - so maybe it won't hurt them quite so much.

Maybe Elias will come back now ;)

If the talk of Rossi signing for another two years is true it's because of the Michelin deal - Rossi clearly knew it was coming. And most of his success came on Michelin, so why not.

Always got flogged until they changed the supply rules which completely stuffed Michelins way of doing things with the SNS's. When the rules were open, Michelin always proved to be far more committed to winning, developing and also providing similar tech to the tires available to the average punter on the road.

This will be good for the sport, simply because Michelin has a very impressive record in the series and I believe they will supply a better range to suit all manufacturers and hopefully compounds that make the riders manage during the race. They have the advantage of sitting on the sidelines for the last 6 years bearing witness to the current suppliers efforts-good and bad.

"When the rules were open, Michelin always proved to be far more committed to winning, developing and also providing similar tech to the tires available to the average punter on the road."

Committed as in being prepared to work up specials on the Saturday night based on the findings of their top teams, and fly them to the circuit overnight. Agreed. That's commitment, above and beyond what one could expect, so long as one had no qualms when it came to respect for equality in competition.

I'm not particularly enamoured of Bridgestone as a single tyre supplier - but that's because I don't agree with a monopoly at all - however they have done ok and when they have screwed up it's been as much Dorna's fault as Bridgestone.

If Michelin re-introduce Saturday night specials for the Euro rounds, I'll switch to WSB.

If things had remained as they were the volume of complaints about BS would have got louder. The only way to find out is to try someone else (assuming my preference of a 'pool' of suppliers wouldn't work for the commercial/logistics clashes/etc. issues).
One of the major issues with BS has been their apparent unwillingness to help teams with tyre construction, preferring the teams to adapt the bikes to their offer. Ducati's claim that a lot of their problems could be solved with a tyre might now get tested.
Being MGP, the top teams will still test chassis concepts (tyres may help but they will not be the total answer to any problems) and bike design will progress. Diversity would benefit and we might just see a 'funny front end'.
There are no cost savings here, what we need is more competitive private teams and a tighter field to provide some racing through the pack, and allow riders like Elias to succeed (as in some top 10's, not mostly bottom 5).
It might be that Michelin will also bring a new PR approach to keep us informed on progress instead of hiding behind bland obfuscation.
Greener tyres? I don't see the problem with that. That means a longer-lasting road tyre without loss of dry or wet grip, and lower rolling resistance. (If fuel consumption still matters, which it does, it might save 1kg on the MGP bike race weight). If they can achieve that, then hurrah. The real trick will be a tyre that can be re-cycled (as in a truly circular process, pardon the pun) as opposed to incineration or making rubber mats.
Slower lap times? As we are probably talking less than 1% difference at the most, then who will really notice in terms of the racing? Even the statistics will provide endless opportunities for the timing data analysts amongst us.
It is also possibly the only way of stopping MM sweeping up every premier circuit racing record on the planet. Must be Carmelo and Rossi at work again! (Although Ago probably has a part too). Perhaps MM should try the TT.....
17" - room for even bigger brakes, perhaps Buell style.

Softer construction and less overall grip will make for significant changes. Motomann don't you think it will make some problems of stability under braking and turn-in simply DISAPPEAR? Less load on the front under braking due to lower grip level. Combine this w less edge grip...braking zone tire behavior is systemically interrelated w both what edge grip is avail around the apex AND what grip is avail on the rear for drive out thru to the exit point.

Bikes are going to move around more for sure. Rossi-type riders, and Marquez too, are ABLE to make a harder F compound work as they work the tire more AND are comfy w less tidy/precise/controlled/metronome 250 style cornering a-la Lorenzo. AND they needn't the edge grip necessary at apex nor stabilized chassis mid-corner. Any crystal ball conceptual synthesis of the combo of the Michelin tire behavior WITH the championship software/hardware development is SUPER interesting for the next year. Bye bye "250 style" and "hello loose fluid style?"

The way we see Pol Espagraro and Rossi ride the Yamaha will be the fast way around. Lorenzo will have a HUGE adjustment on his hands.

I see Superbike riders having an easier adjustment to MotoGP again. Rea and Sykes, grab some bikes!

Yes. Maybe. Well , no.
BS definitely moved the game on, so quite what their 'recipe' will be like is a guess for the uninvolved like me. I suspect that Michelin will be aiming for a BS-alike product to avoid too much change. Rossi has complained about the lack of stiffness in the front carcass, so he has moved on a bit from the squirmy Michelin days too.
I have little doubt that a few BS carcases have found their way to Southern France and been hung, drawn , and quartered after a bit of diagnostic scanning.
A drop in performance would be a good thing in my view, because I think it will level the field for a while.
We don't know what Dorna will do with the electronics either, so that's another factor which will influence tyre design.
If it gets more like Moto2 that could be a bonus.