How Michelin could save DRS

Michelin have recently announced that they are interested in returning to Formula One. Their Motorsport director stated that the company would like to see the introduction of eighteen inch wheels and for tyres to be more durable.

One of the main criticisms of Pirelli, since they have entered the sport in 2011, is that the tyres do not last long enough. This has led to drivers being unable to push during a race in fear of having to pit early or too often. It has also meant that a lot of race strategy revolves around the tyres. It is worth pointing out that the FIA had asked Pirelli to create higher degrading tyres, after the previous supplier’s tyres (Bridgestone) degraded very little during a race.

Due to the Bridgestone’s low degradation, there was a perception that this contributed to very little overtaking on track, hence Pirelli being told to create tyres that degrade at a higher rate. Another innovation introduced at the same time was the Drag Reduction System (DRS). This would also aid overtaking as it would make it easier to slipstream, creating a passing opportunity.

However having higher degrading tyres has led to a Formula where tyre conservation is a key part of race strategy. This has led to drivers asking over team radio whether to fight the driver behind, at times being told not to as the other driver is on a different strategy. This situation can also be seen to have contributed to DRS overtakes looking too easy as drivers concentrate more on their race strategy than defending their on track position. This has led many to view DRS as just a gimmick.

I believe the perception of DRS could be improved however and be more warmly received by fans if Michelin were allowed to introduce a more durable tyre from 2017 onward. By doing this it would remove the need for extreme tyre conservation during a race, allowing drivers to push harder which would give them the freedom to have more of a go at each other in DRS zones, improving the spectacle as a driver gets past, then gets repassed in another DRS zone later in the lap as both drivers have been able to push each other through the entire lap, not having to overly worry about tyre degradation

I feel that having either the Pirelli tyres or the DRS would be beneficial for Formula One, however together they are actually a detriment to the sport. Since it is unlikely that the FIA will get rid of DRS the only other option for the sport to try something new would be to allow Michelin to change the way an F1 tyre acts.

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