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Tire troubles at Magny-Cours

THERE was a minor kerkuffle on Saturday at Magny-Cours when Benetton team management complained to the race stewards that a Goodyear engineer had punctured two of Michael Schumacher's seven sets of tires while taking temperatures with a needle thermometer. The tires had lost 4 psi overnight because of slow punctures, but Goodyear reckoned that they could probably still have been used if necessary without any danger.

The Goodyear engineer in question - Dave Hutson - is a vastly experienced tire engineer who has worked in IMSA and Indycars before beginning a long career in F1. He currently looks after the tires of both Benetton and Williams and has never had this kind of problem before, but he admitted with admirable honesty that he could possibly have been responsible. The stewards, however, denied the team new tires arguing that there was no indication as to who had caused the punctures and that it would set a dangerous precedent if Schumacher were given new tires because there would then be a sudden rush of unexplained punctures as teams tried to get more than the 28 tires allowed.

Benetton said this was unfair, but in the end the stewards agreed to settle the dispute by letting Michael have the possibility of one new front tire and one new rear tire - but only if he had more punctures...

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