MAY 23, 2006
A chance for the tyre companies
The announcement yesterday that the FIA has started the tender process for a tyre supplier for Formula 1 for 2008-2009-2010 opens up interesting possibilities. Companies wishing to bid for a deal have until June 23 to make an application. The decision will be announced on July 5. The company chosen will be allowed to call itself the "official tyre supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship" but will have to agree to supply tyres free of charge to the teams with a maximum of 300 sets only for testing purposes each calendar year. Tyres will come in four different compounds. The tyres will be tested and developed by the top five teams who will each be invited to do 1000km of testing with the new tyres.
While Bridgestone is obviously likely to make a bid and indeed is widely expected to get the deal, there are other companies who might benefit from a bid as the costs involved are controlled and so can be budgeted in advance by a company bidding for the deal. It is not impossible that there will be bids from Goodyear, Pirelli and even Michelin, although the FIA's relationship with the French company is not great after Indianapolis last year. There is also potential for smaller firms such as Kumho.
It remains to be seen how much companies are willing to bid for the rights as the publicity value of a single tyre deal is considerably less than when there are two companies in competition. Indeed tyres will rarely get mentioned in the press unless they go wrong.
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