I recall reading an interview once of a race mechanic serving in the Ralph Firman Fomula Ford team of the late Ayrton Senna. At the time, Senna was a young, up and coming driver finding his way in UK racing. This mechanic distinctly recalled a huge argument they had about tyre pressures in wet weather. The traditional thinking at the time was to lower tyre pressures and give the rubber an larger footprint and hopefully more grip. Senna wanted his pressure increasing. And not just by a few PIS, he wanted them blowing right up, more than 5 PSI above standard. Convinced that he’d kill himself, the mechanic and senna went head to head in a blazing row.
Eventually, he relented, commenting, ‘It’s your funeral”. Ten laps later, Senna was several seconds quicker than the rest of the field. He pulled into the pit garage and nodded to his mechanic and put a finger to his lips, “Sshh….” The two of them dropped the tyres back down in pressure as the rest of the field scratched their heads, staring at the time sheets.
Senna had discovered that blowing tyres up high sometimes opens up the tread blocks and gives more room for water to me moved out of the way, actually giving more grip. And my point here? Senna would probably have loved this new Michelin Premier A/S tire.
I’ll admit to having a dog in the race here. I’m a fan of Michelin Tyres, especially when mounted to a Porsche 911 GT3. Their Sport Pilot design is a long standing leader in track and high performance road tyres and the tyre of choice for most of the drivers I know who drive their GT3’s on track.
But this new Michelin Premier A/S tire is ever so spooky. Instead of grip diminishing as the tyres wear, the design actually allows the grooves to eland and get bigger. Additionally, new groove patterns in the tyre to become visible as it gets older. So while the tyre may be wearing down, the number of channels available to move water away and get the tyre onto the road surface is actually increasing.
Michelin are claiming that in tests, their worn tyre actually matches the brand new performance of some of their rivals, with more than 150 hidden grooves appearing as the tyre wears, maintaining it’s level of grip for far longer.
There’s some clever chemistry at work in the rubber compound too. Michelin’s EverGrip is a proprietary rubber compound with extreme amounts of silica and sunflower oil. The silica provides the bonding strength and adherence to keep the treads on the road for high traction in wet conditions. The sunflower oil allows the tire to grip on wet roads at lower temperatures. These ingredients are mixed through an exacting process that ensures a consistent material contacting the road both when new and worn
No changing tyres pressures, no stand up arguments with your mechanics. Senna would have loved it.
This post has been sponsored by Michelin, but concerns our own opinion.