The fuel-cell-powered LMPH2G on track with Michelin
The Michelin Pilot Sport-equipped LMPH2G lapped and refuelled in race conditions during the weekend’s Michelin Le Mans Cup meeting at Spa-Francorchamps, Belg...
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 300
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.