While others talk about pushing tyre technology forward, Michelin actively invests in it. And a hotbed for innovation has proved to be motor racing. Just ask the people behind the scenes.
From day one, Michelin has been involved in racing, even inventing the pit stop in 1891. Michelin has always partnered with high performance car teams to test its new ideas and ultimately refine, perfect and improve tyre performance. Today, those partners include names like Audi, BMW and Porsche.
Explains Pascal Couasnon, head of racing at Michelin Motorsport: “Putting our tyres into extreme situations lets us see if a solution is worth keeping. Motor racing is our extreme lab, and it’s invaluable for getting new concepts out there.”
Winning is important
At Michelin, there are 150 experts directly involved in Motorsport. And every one of them likes to win.
The Michelin teams have plenty of trophies to their name in the world’s most fiercely contested races. More than 2,000 Michelin victories are at world championship level. For example, Michelin is the only tyre brand to have won all the world championships of the FIA. Michelin also has 40 glorious years of experience in the World Rally Championship. And the 24 Hours of Le Mans has recorded 21 Michelin victories, including the last 15 consecutive wins.
“At Le Mans, the pressure is incredible,” admits Pascal Couasnon, “but we’re in direct contact with our partners… it’s brilliant.”
Victory is the best reward for the team; it’s the moment when all the professionalism, obsession with detail, testing and R&D finally pays off.
Transferring technology from track to street
As history has shown, Michelin’s improvements on the track inevitably lead to better tyres on the road. A good example is the variable contact patch developed by Michelin for Formula 1 and subsequently used extensively at Le Mans.
The variable contact patch allows the pressure and temperature to be distributed evenly across the tyre's contact patch. Although the patch's shape changes when cornering, the amount of rubber in contact with the road remains the same.
It took a year and a half to adapt this technology from Formula 1 and endurance racing to make it compatible with a the high performance tyres you use on the road. The result was MICHELIN Pilot Super Sport tyres, which have become incredibly popular with high performance car owners.
Being committed to constantly improving tyre technology means Michelin always has one eye on the horizon.
As Pascal Couasnon sums up: “Today, we’re at a crossroads for the future of mobility. It’s a great time to be part of it all. Racing has a crucial role to play, to uncover the next generation of innovations.”