SEPTEMBER 1, 2003
Off come the gloves
Today marks the end of the Formula 1 test ban of recent weeks and all the teams are due to go into action in the next few days, testing developments of the current cars and trying out new things for the cars in 2004. There is not going to be any panic among the Michelin teams, despite the recent FIA warning letter, for the simple reason that Michelin has not had the time to produce anything different for testing and if there are to be any narrower tyres they will not be ready until the Italian GP in 10 days from now.
The French tyre manufacturer may decide that caution is the best approach to the problem because no-one wants the public embarrassment of a post-race disqualification and the subsequent mess of protests that would inevitably follow. Such things are negative for alll concerned and for the sport. Thus Michelin may decide to play safe and go for tyres which will not cause any controversy. This will probably affect the competitiveness of the leading Michelin runners but, having said that, it is worth noting that we hear that the aerodynamic effect of a wider tyre is quite significant and the losses caused by this must be traded-off against the gains of any additional grip. The one circuit where the advantage of wider tyres will be reduced is Monza where engine power and and low-drag are the key elements to success.
So perhaps when the cars start to run at Monza we will not see much difference in the status quo.
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