OCTOBER 21, 1996
The tire regulations restrict drivers to 36 slick tires (nine sets) and 28 wets (seven sets) per event. Tire manufacturers may supply two different specifications of slick tires and drivers will be able to use the two different tires in free practice. They must then choose which tires to use before qualifying begins and must then stick with the choice in both qualifying and the race. Only 16 of the tires may be used in qualifying, these being chosen at random by the FIA Technical Delegate.
The new regulation will not please tire companies as it means that they must now bring twice the number of slick tires to each event. This will obviously suit Bridgestone more than it will Goodyear as the Akron company already knows which tires will work at which circuits while Bridgestone does not.
The FIA has a habit of not bothering to consult with the tire companies before making such major decisions but we believe that Goodyear's Stu Grant had talks with Bernie Ecclestone in Japan. Goodyear was opposed to the idea of having two choices of slick tire available but seems to have accepted it to avoid the FIA doing something more radical, such as decreeing that F1 cars should run on grooved tires to cut down on levels of grip.