Aston Martin Racing has been linked to a switch back to Michelin tires for the FIA World Endurance Championship next season with its soon-to-be-launched new Vantage GTE contender.
The new-for-2018 car was spotted testing on the French rubber at Sebring last week, in what Sportscar365 understands was the latest back-to-back comparison with Michelin and its current partner Dunlop.
Multiple industry sources have indicated that the British manufacturer is expected to announce its new partnership with Michelin during Tuesday’s launch of the car in London.
When asked about the possible switch, after two years with Dunlop, Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw said that details on its technical partners for the 2018/19 season are still being finalized.
“We’re evaluating all the right technical partners,” Gaw told Sportscar365. “The technical partners are a really important part of racing in WEC.
“When you’ve got a Balance of Performance process and super-competitive teams, you’re looking for every single competitive edge you can get.
“Obviously we tested, you saw in the photos, we tested on Michelins last weekend at Sebring. But we’ll announce the technical partners next Tuesday.”
The Prodrive-run squad made the switch to Dunlop in 2016, with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen taking the GT drivers’ title, prior to Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra’s GTE-Pro class victory in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
While having excelled in warmer, dry conditions, the Dunlops have often struggled particularly in the wet when compared to the competition, which has been exclusively on Michelins.
Gaw, however, spoke highly of their current relationships.
“What Dunlop and Total have done for us over the last couple of years has been phenomenal,” he said.
“You can see again this weekend Dunlop are really strong in Bahrain, and you can already see in FP1 that we’re looking strong, obviously helped by a positive Balance of Performance as well.”
All Michelin GTE-Pro Class Likely
With Aston Martin’s likely switch, it would likely result in an all-Michelin shod GTE-Pro class next year.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, AF Corse and Porsche are all expected to remain with the French tire giant, with the new BMW M8 GTE, to be run by BMW Team MTEK, also on Michelins.
Luke Smith contributed to this report