With all the anticipation and euphoria over the seeming new era in F1 with Jean Todt in charge there is a major potential disaster looming. Everyone is looking forward to this year with all the new teams and the new rules banning refueling. Lurking in the backgound for 2011 is the 1,000 pound problem. Although very little is being said in public the situation will be at the forefont in the FIA, FOTA and wee Bernie’s minds as well as all the teams.
This is the last year Bridgestone are supplying tires to F1. Now I have been around this crazy sport snce before Ben Hur was a gleam in his parent’s eyes and I am pretty sure the situation will be resolved. I expect all concerned have been in contact with worldwide tire companies and are working like mad to find a solution. The last rumour I heard was 3 different Korean companies are expressing some interest.
Now, I have no inside information, nor do I intend to analyze the merits, or otherwise, of any company. What I am looking at is the distinct possibility that a new tire supplier might require (demand) significant rule changes. Currently Bridgestone have 4 dry compounds of which 2 are designated and each must be used in every race. Then there are semi wets and monsoon tires. With the new teams, supplying sufficient tires for practice, qualifying and racing is a huge expense. The current regulations require Bridgestone to have sufficient tires at every race.
At the moment, as long as only one new tire company is interested, or if more than one they cooperate they can dictate tire rule changes. If I was to bid on the contract I would stipulate one compound only per race and probably only 2 for the year instead of 4. Next I would build a tire (and it can be done) able to go the full race distance. Sure the grip would be down but so what. For the race each car would have 8 dry tires allocated. You could do a tire change but if you got a flat you would have to put an already used tire back on. If the tire compound remained relatively stable during its lifespan why lose time in a stop? Again it can be done.
One set each only of the intermediate and full rain tires. If there is a flat only it can be changed. The teams monitor tire pressures from the pits so they will know which is flat. The total number of tires allocated to a team for a weekend would be drastically reduced.
Rules similar to the above would bring the cost of supplying tires to the circus down tremendously and could interest smaller companies. Less tire busters needed and probably less tire engineers at the track. It might even reduce the number of team members required at the track. It would also reduce the number of very expensive wheels needed per car.
Since this is F1 and the above makes sense it probably won’t happen.