NOVEMBER 5, 2004
The news that Sauber is switching to Michelin tyres next year was something of a surprise but only because the deal was thought to be unlikely because of fears that Michelin data would get leaked back to Ferrari. Peter Sauber says this would not happen and Sauber is a man who can be trusted. It seems that Michelin is now convinced that this is the case - or is not bothered whether Ferrari gets the data or not. Indeed it might even be argued that Michelin would like Ferrari to see what it is doing so that if it comes down to a contest between Michelin and Bridgestone for a single tyre supply, Ferrari might be more willing to accept Michelin, not that the Italian team has any official influence on a choice of tyre supplier.
What is more interesting, however, is the fact that Sauber's supply was obviously previously that of Jaguar Racing, which means that the French tyre company has now got all the major players in F1 except for Ferrari. There are rumours that Bridgestone might yet switch camps but these have yet to be confirmed and if there is to be an announcement one would expect to see it happen soon.
The Sauber switch means that Bridgestone have just Ferrari, Minardi and Jordan and potentially there is a deal also with the new owners of Jaguar Racing, if indeed there is a buyer. The way things stand, therefore, Michelin is supply BAR, Renault, Williams, McLaren, Sauber and Toyota. This is 60% of the field and so Bridgestone must supply the rest if called upon to do so.
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