APRIL 29, 1996
F1 Commission debates control tires
FIA President Max Mosley and his Vice-President (Promotional Affairs) Bernie Ecclestone are believed to have proposed introducing control tires and decide on the tire company to be involved by means of a bidding competition. This would circumnavigate any debate about restriction of trade as the tire companies would be competing for the deal rather than on the race tracks. This would have several important advantages. The auction would raise a considerable amount of money which could be used to boost the prize funds; it would guarantee that the F1 show would not be affected with one tire company or another dominating, and it would enable the FIA to keep speeds down to the levels which they want to have for safety.
Opposition to the idea comes from teams which have - or plan to have - special relationships with tiremakers. These deals are very valuable, and with several tire companies involved, would also mean a performance advantage for those lucky enough to get the best tires. The system would favor the big teams to the detriment of the little guys. We understand that the issue was heatedly discussed by the F1 Commission and that in the end Mosley and Ecclestone walked out of the meeting when their idea met with opposition. It remains to be seen what will now happen but it must be remembered that tire supply rules are sporting regulations and can be brought in very quickly. If the FIA chooses to use safety as a reason to change the rules there is very little that the teams can do to stop the governing body getting its own way.