OCTOBER 10, 2003
BAR and Michelin
There have been suggestions in the paddock in Japan that British American Racing may be on the verge of switching from Bridgestone to Michelin tires for next season. BAR's Bridgestone contract is up for renewal and the team must now decide whether it is better to do a new deal with the Japanese firm or follow short-term logic and do a deal with Michelin, which has had an advantage this year (except in the wet). BAR-Honda is keen to make a breakthrough to become a challenger for fourth place in the Constructors' next year and to achieve that it needs to have more input in the tire situation. The feeling in some teams in the paddock is that Bridgestone concentrates too much on Ferrari and that teams on Michelin have a better chance of success.
There could be a stumbling block to such a deal because of Honda's close relationship with Bridgestone but as Honda remains only the engine supplier and sponsor of the team, it is really down to team boss David Richards to make that decision.
If BAR does decide that it wants to run with Michelin the French tire company must accept to provide tires for the team as in the rules a tire company in F1 must agree to be prepared to supply 60% of the field if called upon to do so. With 10 teams, Michelin must be willing to supply six of them. At the moment Michelin supplies McLaren, Williams, Renault, Jaguar and Toyota while Bridgestone has Ferrari, Sauber, BAR, Jordan and Minardi.
There is therefore room for Michelin to take one more team - whether the Michelin crew likes it or not.
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