By Patrick Raleigh, ERJ On-line news editor
Magny Cours, France-Formula One racing teams will be restricted to a single set of tyres for use both in qualifying and racing to reduce what organisers say are â€œdangerously fastâ€ speeds in the sport. Both Michelin and Bridgestone have welcomed the plan, which allows continued competition between the two F1 tyre suppliers.
â€œWe will drastically reduce the number of tyres available per weekend,â€ Max Mosley president of organisers Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), told a 2 July press conference at Magny Cours-the venue for the French Grand Prix. The safety measures, which also cover engine power and chassis design, are due to take effect by early 2005.
â€œWhat is being talked about at the moment is two sets of tyres, one for Friday and Saturday, and another set for qualifying and the race, with the original set as a back-up,â€ explained Mosely. Each team will have access to two types or tyres in case it couldn't work on a particular set of tyres, he added.
Under the new regulations the tyres will be much harder and this will improve the skill factor in F1 racing, continued Mosely. â€œIt will be possible to run off line, the braking distances will increase because there will be less grip, there will be all sorts of side benefits come from that,â€ he explained.
Asked about reverting to the use of a single tyre supplier for all FI teams, Mosely said â€œwe cannot see a reason to do introduce a tyre monopoly to reduce performance when we can do this by regulation.â€ However, he added that FIA would consider a monopoly if the new tyre regulations fail to cut speeds.
According to Michelin, the FIA regulations are in-line with its own proposals to control performances in F1, which it claims will also cut teams' operational costs by over 50 percent through the virtual elimination of tyre testing.
â€œFirstly, to be able to provide tyres that last much longer, we will be obliged to use much harder compounds, which in turn will be less â€œgrippyâ€, thus reducing speeds. Secondly, to seriously reduce costs, testing must be limited,â€ explained Pierre Dupasquier Michelin's competition director.
â€œAnd finally, these 'hard' tyres will leave less rubber on the track, making the 'dirty' line a thing of the past and therefore encouraging overtaking, something everybody around F1 wants,â€ Dupasquier added in a press statement.
For its part, Bridgestone issued a statement welcoming the FIA proposals to improve the safety of F1 and its confirmation that â€œa competitive situation in the sport will be retained.â€ The company said it had submitted its own safety proposals to FIA, though a company spokesman declined to give any further details of these.