One item that is receiving surprisingly little attention in the motoring press is the problem of the tire supplier for F1 for next year. I am sure the FIA and the F1 teams are more than a little concerned. Bridgestone are adamant that they are pulling out of F1 at the end of the year. So do the teams run down to the local Canadian Tire for Motomaster Specials?
The FIA are obviously working to get at least one supplier and are busily wooing some of the Korean Companies along with others.
However, at the present time, the only Company to really show open interest is Michelin. They admit they are ‘negotiating’ with the FIA. Michelin have no great love for the FIA after they basically got the shaft when the last 5 year exclusive contract was awarded to Bridgestone. That may have been under Mad Max Mosely but I expect that Michelin will be demanding a guarantee ensuring them of being a supplier, if not the sole supplier, for at least 5 years.
Nothing has been said openly exactly what else Michelin are wanting but ‘leaks’ indicate they expect to be paid for their tires. I doubt very much they will hope to recoup the full costs of the tires but they apparently are not willing to supply them for free. At the same time I expect that they will only be willing to supply 2 or 3 different compounds for the entire year and to reduce the number of sets a team gets each weekend. Most likely the tires will be slower than the current Bridgestones and longer lasting. Wether it will mean races with no tire stops is likely also under discussion. Naturally if this happens there will be only 2, at the most, compounds available for dry tires per race and teams would likely be free as to stops and which compound to run. There will still be intermediates and monsoon tires.
Another rumoured (likely true) wish is to increase wheel diameter from 13 inch to 18 inch with ultra low profile tires. Width to be determined. Michelin now supply tires for sports car racing where 18 inch wheels are utilized.
The teams are certainly not in favour of much of the above, especially the 18 inch wheels, as it will mean a major rethink on chassis and suspension set ups although the ultra low profile tires will offset some of that. Mind you, that may also create problems of its own.
The thing is that, at the moment, Michelin are in the driver’s seat as they seem to be the only Company interested in suppling tires. That of course is why the FIA, and I suspect the teams are working hard to find another willing Company. Time is running out on a decision as not only will any Company suppling tires need lead time but the F1 teams will need to know about wheel sizes for their design teams.
Another development I can see happening is more testing being allowed as the teams and whatever tire manufacturer(s) develop F1 tires.
There is also quite a bit of talk of reintroducing the KERS system as mandatory next year with a few tweaks including a standard unit. There is a lot of disenssion among the teams as to exactly how it is to be implemented so I personally do not see it happening next year. Possibly by 2012.
Now to something I usually will not comment on. An incident that actually occured during a race. As anybody who watched last weekend’s F1 race knows Lewis Hamilton did a masterful job of weaving down a straight with Petrov’s Renault right behind him. Two of the Toronto papers Motorsport writers thought Hamilton should have been penalized for blocking. The rules allow one move and then a move back to take your line into the next corner. There is no question that Hamilton made far more moves but the arguement is that he was trying to break the tow. The Stewards did issue a warning but that is all. My take is that, in this case, Hamilton was legal. My reasoning is that Petrov mirrored every move that Hamilton made indicating he was endevouring to stay in the slipstream. If Petrov had stayed in a straight line or even followed Hamilton’s first move only then it would have been blocking.
Alright have at me!
The fact that I more than once rather blatantly blocked cars that were faster on the Andretti straight than me at Mosport has nothing to do with it! If I got to turn 8 first by the time we got onto the Andretti straight again I was gone. That only applied when I was faster overall!!
Prediction of the week. In the Indy Car race at Barber Motorsport Park Milka Duno will suffer brake failure or handling problems by lap 15 at the latest. (AKA Black Flag)
The photo above is a model built by Phil Dauphinee, originally shown on the Spotlight Hobbies forum.