Eduoard Michelin drowns on fishing trip.
The head of the Michelin tyre company, and the man behind the company's involvement in Formula One, Eduoard Michelin, has died during a boating trip in his native France.
Although company sources are not revealing the cause of his death, it is believed that Michelin drowned while on a fishing trip. He was 43. Joint managing director Michel Rollier will oversee the running of the company for the time being.
A respected businessman, Michelin joined the family firm in 1985, hand-picked by his father despite coming from a large family. Although he subsequently spent a couple of years serving in the French navy, he returned to the company in 1989, working his way up through the management ranks before succeeding father Francois ten years later.
Providing a new face at the helm after 40 years, Michelin's first task was to fight off growing competition from new rivals, particularly those coming from Japan - a battle that would continue onto the racetracks of the world in F1. His methods were not always universally approved or understood, with sweeping job cuts receiving angry opposition in the French government, but achieved the required aim of keeping the company in business. His death is now being lamented by many of those that opposed his methods.
It was during Eduoard's management that Michelin returned to Formula One to take on rival Bridgestone, achieving great success in 2005 when Renault helped form an all-French championship pairing, toppling the Japanese firm from a perch it had established with Ferrari over the previous five years. However, the triumph was achieved under a cloud, after all Michelin-shod teams boycotted the USGP on safety grounds after providing unsuitable rubber for Indianapolis' faster corners.
Disagreeing with the drive towards a single tyre supplier, and believing that his company would not get a fair shot at the contract, Michelin announced that he would be withdrawing form battle in the top flight at the end of 2006 - a year that currently sees Fernando Alonso again leading the way with Renault.
Not a regular visitor to grands prix, Michelin had eschewed the chance to be in Monaco this weekend and opted instead to go fishing off the coast of Brittany. The alarm was initially raised when his boat failed to return to port, and Michelin's body was later recovered from the sea.
Crash.net extends its sympathies to his wife and six children.