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Goodyear to race quicker tires this year

GOODYEAR engineers are planning to supply quicker tires at certain circuits this year in an effort to ensure they are well-prepared for the planned entry into Formula 1 of rival tire company Bridgestone in 1998. Rumors in the F1 paddock suggest that Bridgestone's decision to enter F1 may trigger Michelin to announce a program for 1997, and it is known that the French tiremaker has been developing F1 rubber for the last year or so and there have even been rumors that an F1 team has even tested for Michelin.

"We are not going to sit back," says Goodyear's F1 boss Cal Lint. "We are charging ahead with development."

Lint admitted that in Melbourne Goodyear decided to run a very conservative choice of rubber because it was the first visit to the track, but admitted that they are likely to be less inhibited when the circus moves back to Europe where the tracks are well-known to Goodyear's tire compounders.

The likely drop in lap times - which could be very dramatic on occasion if Goodyear turned up with qualifiers - will send a very clear message to FIA President Max Mosley. He knows that a tire war will undermine all the safety work which has been done in the last two years and, at the same time, make for less exciting racing as tire companies will pull back to supply one leading team with its best tires while the others will not get as good rubber. In addition, the soft tires will leave more rubber on the road and so overtaking will become more and more difficult.

These factors will almost certainly force the FIA into considering auctioning the F1 tire contract to one supplier rather than allowing tire companies to compete head to head on the race tracks.

At the moment Mosley refuses to talk about the subject.

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