Michelin’s decade of innovation and success in motorsport

In the course of the past 10 years, Michelin’s increasingly sophisticated, energy-efficient, consistent and, now, connected tyres collected more than 300 world-class victories in disciplines as varied as MotoGP, endurance racing, rallying and Formula E. 

MotoGP™ - PTT Thailand Grand Prix - Racecard

Michelin Motorsport heads to Thailand and Buriram for the for the first of four flyaway races over the next five weeks.Click on the photo to get our racecard.

Michelin’s first Formula 1 world titles

In 1979, Michelin demonstrated the superiority of its radial tyre technology by claiming the first of its titles in the Formula 1 World Championship. Forty years on, the French firm continues to see motorsport as a means to innovate and take its technologies forward, especially in competitions that place the accent on sustainable mobility and lasting performance.

 

The 1979 Formula 1 season concluded on October 7 at Watkins Glen, USA, where Gilles Villeneuve notched up the Ferrari 312 T4’s sixth win on Michelin rubber to earn second place in the year’s Drivers’ standings.

The title itself had been sealed a month previously by the Canadian’s team-mate Jody Scheckter when he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza to celebrate the Scuderia’s 300th F1 appearance.

It was only the South African’s third victory of the campaign after Belgium and Monaco, but a trio of second places enabled him to collect his first – and only – world crown and contribute to Ferrari’s sixth Constructors’ title with two races in hand. It was also Michelin first, just two years after its first steps in motor racing’s showpiece series.

“We won five races with Ferrari in 1978, then six more in 1979. That spoke volumes for Michelin’s radial technology,” recalls Pierre Dupasquier, the man in charge at Michelin Compétition at the time. “The Ferrari 312 T4 wasn’t even equipped with ground effect which was a handicap for tyres at fast venues. Yet I will never forget my counterpart at Goodyear stating in an interview that radial tyres would never win the Formula 1 championship…”

The season was also marked by Renault’s maiden Formula 1 victory, on Michelin rubber, a year after the two companies’ success together at Le Mans.

Despite suffering a variety of setbacks in the wake of its F1 debut at Silverstone in 1977, the turbo-engined Renault R10 harvested its first win two years later courtesy Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the French Grand Prix which is remembered to this day for the thrilling scrap that opposed Ferrari’s Villeneuve and Renault’s Arnoux in the fight for second place.

“Gilles and René certainly played with my nerves,” admits Dupasquier. “The Renault engine wasn’t that reliable and they were touching wheels in cars that practically had no brakes left. It couldn’t have finished better, though, because we ended up pocketing our first all-Michelin podium.”

For the record, the same day that Villeneuve won at Watkins Glen, a Michelin-equipped Lancia Stratos came first in the World Rally Championship’s Sanremo Rally!

Four decades on, Michelin continues to defend the same values in world class motorsport, with the same unfailing determination to keep innovating. Although not currently involved in F1, it favours championships that place the emphasis on sustainable mobility, while delivering on its promise to provide lasting, winning performance to the line.

MOTOGP™

Michelin on the virtual racing front

The coronavirus pandemic has obviously brought real motorsport to a halt, but many of Michelin’s driver partners have been keeping their eye in thanks to virtual races like Sebring SuperSaturday, e-Sport MotoGP and Porsche Supercup Virtual Edition.

24H du Mans

Le Mans 2020 put back 98 days

Initially scheduled for the weekend of June 13-14, this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours has been postponed until mid-September due to the coronavirus outbreak. The 1968 race was also held in September and saw Michelin provide new radial tyres for its partner Alpine.

FIA WRC

Rally Mexico Win #6 for Ogier

Sébastien Ogier steered his Michelin LTX Force-equipped Toyota Yaris WRC to victory this weekend to earn his sixth success in Mexico. However, Round 3 of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship was brought to an early close due to the coronavirus outbreak.

FIA WRC

FIA WRC - 2020 Rally Guanajuato Mexico - Racecard

The Rally Mexico is the season’s opening gravel round and a big challenge for the Michelin tyres! Get our racecard to find out more about the 3rd round of the 2020

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