Tire talks narrow on Michelin, Cooper Avon & KERS possible for 2011

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The discussion over tire suppliers for the 2011 season is getting down to brass tacks according the Williams F1 technical director Sam Michael. It seems the chat is squarely centered around Michelin and Cooper Avon with the biggest delta between them being price.

According the Michael, the price for a team to participate in a Michelin program are three times higher than the Cooper Avon deal. BBC reports:

“The conversations really, at this point, are between Michelin and Avon,” said Michael. “Avon’s a lot cheaper (than Michelin) but it’s a less proven product although they’ve done plenty of highly competitive tyres.

“They are a bigger unknown than Michelin because Michelin did it (in F1) very recently. But there is a significant difference in cost and you are probably talking over three times the difference in cost to the teams.”

“I think the discussion in Fota is just acknowledgement that you’ve got to take into account a lot of different factors: it’s not a straight financial decision and it’s not a straight technical decision,” he added.

“All this needs to be discussed with (F1 commercial supremo) Bernie (Ecclestone) as he’s traditionally looked after tyre supply.”

It remains to be seen which way Ecclestone will go but there is little doubt that while the price of the Cooper Avon deal may seem enticing, the fact is Michelin have the proven history to supply a sport as technically demanding as F1. There is no room for error as it could seriously injure someone. I would hate to think that someone’s life was compromised on a tire that was not technically advanced enough or proven in the world of F1.

I am not suggesting that Cooper Avon does not or can not make an F1 tire, what I am suggesting is that we know Michelin can and a damn good one at that.

It also seems that Ferrari and Renault might be willing to help Williams F1 and their mad dash to bring KERS back to F1 next year. Williams, who just invested heavily in Williams Hybrid Power are keen to see their KERS unit in F1. When they had to chance to run in in 2009, they failed to have a system ready for prime time but now that they have met with success in marketing the system to other racing teams and series, they are keen to see it return.

Most teams were against bringing it back and Mercedes boss Ross Brawn thought it might b more prudent to wait until 2013 when all the engine regulations change. Lobbying for support, Williams F1 have gotten Ferrari and Renault to agree to a supplier role. BBC reports:

“Ferrari and Renault put forward proposals that they could do Kers for less than 1m euros (£869,000),” said the Australian.

“Those have been accepted but what Ferrari and Renault are both saying is that unless we increase the energy level from the current 400 kilojoules up to 600 or 800, to make Kers more beneficial, they are not prepared at this stage to commit that they will actually do Kers.”

“I think that by Barcelona (next week’s Spanish Grand Prix), the Fota executive is due to try and make a decision on Kers for 2011. It’s all pretty split at the moment on that,” said Michael.

I know it seems like a good idea for Williams but in my opinion? I think Brawn is right, let’s wait and mak a prudent decision instead of a Mosley-esque pragmatic decision which, if you believe in anything other than what BMW told us via press releases, was the reason the German car maker left the sport as it sunk it’s fortune into a bad concept in 2009.


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