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Is this the only motorsport tyre that everyone actually loves?

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP rookie Augusto Fernandez isn’t the first newcomer to admit to being stunned by the performance of Michelin’s wet-weather tyre – he’s the latest in a long succession to do so.

At first glance, that doesn’t have to be hugely notable. But consider just how much the motorsport news cycle is routinely dominated by angst towards what links the machinery with the track.

See Lando Norris’s Pirelli-bashing comments in response to drivers getting the blame for Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix restart mess. Or how about the extensive remaking of the wet-weather F1 tyre that Pirelli has just had to undertake because the compound was previously universally regarded as not good enough? Take also the Formula E drivers’ general apathy about the characteristics of the new Hankooks, introduced following the switch to Gen3.

Even in MotoGP itself, take the Michelin slick fronts and the whole debate surrounding their operating window in terms of pressure, while the series awaits a new tyre design. And don’t forget the regular grumbles from various riders occasionally feeling like they got a ‘duff’ tyre for a crucial session.

In that context, could the Michelin wets be top-level motorsport’s most beloved current tyre?

Fernandez’s comments come after he got the chance to try them in race trim during last Sunday’s Argentine Grand Prix en route to an impressive 11th-place finish at Termas de Rio Honda. It marked the Tech3 Gas Gas rider’s second points finish from two races, and was the latest element in what has so far been a successful debut in the premier class for the reigning Moto2 champion.

Fernandez said that in spite of struggling in the early stages to see where he was going – partly a consequence of just how much water the Michelin tyre displaces – he managed to have fun.

“It was nice, and I enjoyed it a lot,” he said.


“Of course, it wasn’t easy, because the first laps with all the spray, being back there at the back of the grid wasn’t ideal. The visibility was zero. Zero. The same as closing your eyes. Everyone at the back was expecting the one in front to brake, though. We took it easy.

“The visibility is a lot worse in MotoGP, a lot. But I have to say, the guys are not as crazy as at the back of Moto2! We are for sure more mature. No one wants to destroy the race of anybody.

“That’s nice to see even in these kinds of conditions.”

In fact, so good are the series’ rain tyres, Fernandez even admitted that his number one issue now in wet conditions isn’t having less grip than in the dry, but rather trusting just how much he has at his disposal on his KTM, and having to completely re-evaluate what’s possible after spending six seasons on Dunlop’s Moto2 tyres.

“They’re incredible,” he told The Race of the Michelin wet tyre. “Incredible. Even in the first test when I tried those tyres they were amazing.

“My problem now, without checking all the data with Brad [Binder] or Jack [Miller] in the wet, is that I need to trust them more.

Augusto Fernandez

“Coming from the Moto2 tyres, where you cannot brake, cannot lean, cannot open the gas… I braked quite soon, and they told me I had to brake later! This trust… I need to know them a little better! But you enjoy riding in the wet, unlike Moto2.”

Fernandez had already sampled the Michelin wets in the pre-season, getting his first test in the Sepang shakedown, and had offered a similar view then.

“You can still ride. You can brake hard, you can ride the bike, do the corners and lines. It’s a little bit smoother but you can still ride and attack corners. That was a nice feeling.

“A little bit slower and a little bit smoother, but you can still feel the bike, feel the tyres, feel everything you do on the bike. You have the feedback. Of course the limit is much closer, but you can feel it. It’s not that you don’t feel anything till you crash – not like in Moto2.”

And that was not just his opinion. Go back to last year, and there Fernandez’s rookie predecessors were, likewise extolling the virtues of the tyre.

“It’s not bad. For me, it’s pretty good,” said Remy Gardner – now in World Superbikes – albeit caveating his opinion by admitting his disdain towards the wet tyres in Moto2.

“They [the Michelins] give you a lot of feel, these tyres.”

“For sure it’s a lot more fun compared to Moto2, because with the tyre the gap is big. You can push a lot,” said Marco Bezzecchi at the time.

The crash statistics from Termas were a good look, too. MotoGP had one fall in the wet-ish qualifying – a small tip-off from Alex Marquez that allowed him to immediately rejoin, albeit with his Gresini-run Ducati then catching fire.


That was followed by no crashes in the wet warm-up and just two falls in the race. Both of those – for Pecco Bagnaia and Brad Binder – were low-speed and allowed them to continue on, and in Binder’s case the crash had nothing to do with the tyre, instead coming after minor contact with Maverick Vinales.

“You can almost touch the elbow on the wet. It is unbelievable,” was another part of Bezzecchi’s verdict last year. He certainly seems to have taken an even bigger liking since, because the Michelin wets propelled him to a spectacular, dominant victory at Termas.

But it’s clear either way the affinity for the tyre is widespread and significant.

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