Jun.20 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Michelin has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone’s claim it would not be good for F1 if the French marque won the sport’s 2017 tyre contract.

F1’s current supplier Pirelli confirmed on Friday that it is going head-to-head with Michelin for the new deal.

“There are definitely only two bidders,” said Pirelli’s Paul Hembery in Austria.

Michelin’s application surprised many insiders, as the company left F1 a decade ago when the sport decided to end the ‘tyre war’.

Indeed, motor sport director Pascal Couasnon has confirmed to Speed Week that Michelin also ruled out competing for the last two contracts for that very reason.

But now, Michelin has another plan.

“Right now, drivers can only show 60 to 80 per cent of their potential,” he said. “They are afraid of damaging the tyres.

“But that is not what we see as the respectful treatment of the issue of tyres. We want an extreme sport in which everyone gives 100 per cent,” Couasnon said.

“We want to improve the image of the tyre in F1,” he added.

“We do not like this image of having disposable tyres in formula one. At the same time I hear the accusation that we (Michelin) would build rock-hard tyres. That’s not true.

“Le Mans proves that we build tyres that are very durable, but thanks to their adhesive strength still allow for a good show.

“I want to emphasise that we have every interest in ensuring that the race for the fans is a good show, not a procession of cars with no overtaking.

“We want interesting grands prix,” Couasnon insisted.

He also reiterated that Michelin is asking for the move to 18-inch tyres, in line with “other racing series” and to ensure the “real transfer of knowledge from the race track to the road”.

Pirelli, on the other hand, has a different approach, with its boss Hembery saying the company is willing to deliver the sort of tyres formula one asks for.

In that way, he hit back at Michelin’s ‘conditional’ application to take over from 2017.

“The example would be an engine manufacturer saying ‘We propose a five-litre V8′ and then acting surprised when the sport says ‘We actually want a 1.6 turbo’. It’s the same discussion isn’t it?” Hembery told reporters in Austria.

“If you want to do 20-inch we’ll do 20-inch. If you want to do tyres to last the whole race we’ll do that. Tell us what you want and we’ll do it,” he declared.