We travelled to the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi to be a part of Michelin’s 125th anniversary celebrations. We drove some fast cars of course, but also got to learn a little bit about tyre technology.
Celebrating a 125th anniversary is no mean feat for any company. And so it was a proud day for the French brand, especially given their history of innovation and continued success. Having been one of the leaders in the tyre industry since inception, Michelin has, over the years, invented many new technologies – this includes the first pneumatic tyre, as well as the world’s first radial tyre. In fact, the first racing car that won a Formula One Grand Prix was on Michelin tyres – with the company taking radial technology to the track to prove its abilities in the most extreme conditions.
Over the years, a clear focus of the company has been on safety – not only tyre safety but road safety as well. Michelin, after all, spends $600 million every year on research and development. The company also focuses on different types of motorsports activities around the world, in an effort to further develop and test new technologies in a racing environment before transferring these innovations to the road.
Not surprisingly, cars shod with Michelin tyres have won the famous Le Mans 24-hour race 23 times, and the World Rally Championship 46 times. Currently, Michelin is focussing on the Formula E racing series – not only because it’s in sync with their various initiatives to reduce emissions, but also because the series uses tyres that are far more relevant to the road than any race series in the world.
We also got into discussions with Michelin’s experts about the common mistakes made by people in regards to their tyres. Here are the three things they stressed that everyone should keep in mind:
First, one should always buy tyres from a known manufacturer, as the quality and performance of the tyre depends heavily on how competent the manufacturer is. Second, many people are not careful about the air pressure in their tyres and this is something that can be very damaging to the tyre – or, in the worse case, the vehicle and its occupants. So, always maintain the recommended tyre pressure in you car. Third, avoid buying used tyres, since it’s difficult to truly judge the tyres’ condition – and there could be a high chance of tyre failure.
After the technical session, we also got a chance to drive some murderously fast cars at the Yas Marina track. The line-up included the Ferrari 458 Italia, Chevrolet Corvette and Audi R8. However, the highlight of the drive was getting behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 that was fitted with Michelin’s road legal semi-slick Pilot Sport Cup 2. Designed for high performance cars, the Sport Cup offers tremendous performance and terrific cornering ability. In fact, despite the 911’s outrageous power, there was absolutely no loss of traction whatsoever on the circuit.
This focus on performance and safety, while keeping environmental concerns at the forefront, makes Michelin a highly admirable brand. The company certainly seems well on the path to another (sustainable) 125 years…