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Michelin and Jaguar

AS we predicted last week, Jaguar Racing and Michelin have announced a partnership for the 2001 season. Jaguar joins Williams and Toyota (although the new team will probably not appear until 2002) on Michelin tires. Further deals are expected in the weeks ahead with Sauber, Prost, Benetton and Jordan all expected to confirm deals with the French tire company.

The switches are likely to be dictated by engine manufacturers wanting to ensure that they have teams on both Bridgestone and Michelin so that if one tire company gets ahead they will still be in a position to win races. Sauber is currently acting as Ferrari's second team and so a switch to Michelin next year is an obvious step which will allow Ferrari to monitor just how good the Michelins are. Jordan and British American Racing are both supplied by Honda and we would expect one or the other to run Michelins next year. It is more likely to be Jordan as BAR has the factory Honda engine supply and a switch to Michelin might not be a good move from a diplomatic point of view. Prost is expected to get the second Mercedes-Benz engine supply next year (although there have been a few rumors in recent days that a deal might be in the offing with Ferrari). One way or another, it is in Prost's interest to be on Michelins and the French connection will certainly help as Alain may be able to get financial support from Michelin as well.

Benetton is also likely to go to Michelin given the recent takeover of the team by Renault. Michelin will be under commercial pressure to support the team in the future. According to the regulations, tire companies must be in a position to support 60% of the F1 field if called upon to do so and so Michelin could supply seven teams in 2001.

Michelin started its testing program last week at the BMW testing facility at Miramas with Tom Kristensen driving a 1999 Williams-BMW FW21B test car which is being run from the old BMW Motorsport facility next to the main Williams factory atĘGrove.

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