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MAY 10, 2005

Ferrari complains about tyre rules

Ferrari's ultimate boss Luca di Montezemolo is complaining that Formula 1 is being dictated too much by tyres.

"With these new regulations it's more of a World Championship for tyres than for cars," he said. "I'm worried because I see, after five races, that we have a very competitive car, but we have a big problem with the tyres. Bridgestone have worked very well in previous years, but with these new regulations, tyres have an excessive and certainly decisive role. I hope the situation improves because we have trouble in being fast both over a hot lap and over the race distance."

Memories are short in Formula 1. Ferrari was offered the opportunity to sign up to a single tyre formula last October as part of the "Cost Saving Initiative" at the Brazilian Grand Prix, which proposed a control tyre for F1. It was agreed by nine of the 10 teams. One of the reasons that Ferrari refused to sign up was that in recent years the relationship that exists between Ferrari and Bridgestone been an important advantage. Now that Bridgestone is not producing the goods needed (at least not at every event) the team is questioning the rules.

Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima says that the lack of performance is because the tyre manufacturer does not do enough testing.

"Our rivals can count on several top teams," he said. "So they can improve much faster. This is particularly decisive this year, with these new regulations."

There is an element of truth in this but Bridgestone must look at its tyre supply policy for a reason why this has happened. The company started out with several big teams but gradually each moved to Michelin because they were unhappy with the special relationship between Ferrari and Bridgestone. The upside of that policy was the enormous success of the partnership in recent years.

The downside is the pain that is now being felt at Maranello.

The good news for F1 is that in such a circumstance Ferrari might consider a switch to a control tyre (it could be justified as being made in the best interests of the sport) and that would be a major step in reducing the split that currently exists between Ferrari and the other major teams. This would also address the testing issue as without tyre rivalry the need to test would be reduced considerably - and that would bring down costs, which would help Ferrari as well.

This can only be a good thing because the current situation is not in the best interest of the sport. It would also help the safety situation as a control tyre would provide a much more effective means of slowing the cars.