It has emerged that Cooper Avon is in negotiation with FOTA about supplying tyres for next season, despite the fact that a provisional deal appears to already have been agreed with Michelin in principle.
For a tyre supplier to be allowed into F1, they need the unanimous support of the teams (FOTA), Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA. Michelin are currently looking for a chance to supply tyres in F1 again, but with certain conditions. They want at least one other manufacturer to battle with, and it is believed that they want 18-inch wheels on the cars instead of 13-inch wheels at the moment.
It has been reported that Bernie Ecclestone is not in favour of a deal with Michelin, possibly because of the conditions attached, and that he wants a different manufacturer instead. It is possibele that Cooper Avon would be able to use former Bridgestone employees to service the tyres, and ensure they are up to F1 standard.
It is currently unknown what FOTA’s stance on the situation is, as they are currently in negotiation with Cooper Avon, and they have provisionally agreed a deal with Michelin, so they may want both manufacturers in the sport next year.
A meeting with Bernie Ecclestone has been orgainised with FOTA representatives at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, as he has not yet told the teams what he wants to do for 2011. FOTA appear to want to know what tyres they will be using next year by the Spanish Grand Prix.
I’m not yet sure who I would prefer to see supply tyres next year. As we have already seen, tyres are critical this year, and that would tip toward Michelin, as they have plenty of recent Formula 1 experience, up to 2006. While Cooper Avon can get former Bridgestone employees to work with them, I still think Michelin would be easier.
But, the French company has brought their own conditions, something which has not impressed Bernie Ecclestone. At first, wanting another manufacturer looked like it could be possible, but asking for 18-inch wheels as well is asking for quite a bit. Having said that, I still think they will get a supply contract next year, possibly with Cooper Avon competing against them.