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Keeping down costs...

THE Formula 1 teams head to Melbourne to begin a tire war between Goodyear and Bridgestone. The battle is going to be intense. Goodyear is supplying seven of the 12 teams and has all the big names under contract: Ferrari, Williams, McLaren, Benetton, Jordan, Sauber and Tyrrell. Bridgestone will be supplying five teams: Prost, Arrows, Stewart, Minardi and Lola.

Both companies appear to have concluded that the only way to beat the other is to produce specific tires for specific circuits and it may be that as the season progresses we will see specific tires for specific drivers at specific circuits.

The choice of tire compounds which Bridgestone and Goodyear have available will depend to some extent on the weather being forecast at each individual event and there will be considerable guesswork going on before practice to decide which two compounds will be chosen for the free practice sessions on Fridays. Each driver is allowed two different compounds in these sessions and must then decide which one he wants to use for the rest of the weekend. From Saturday morning he has seven sets of slick tires and seven sets of wet tires. In order to assure that no fancy compounds slip through into qualifying sessions, the tires to be used in qualifying will be picked at random by the FIA technical delegate.

As a result of the choices necessary Bridgestone is taking an array of different compounds to Melbourne and will have 200 tires available for each of its drivers. Goodyear is taking 130 tires per car.

In total there will be 3800 tires in Melbourne - and only about a quarter of them can actually be used - unless it rains.

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