By Alex Kapadia
Formula One teams are hoping that a decision will be made about who will be supplying their tyres for next season before they reach the Spanish Grand Prix.
A giant question mark has been hanging over the issue for months, ever since sole tyres supplier Bridgestone announced they were pulling out of the sport when their contract expires at the end of the 2010 season.
Michelin have confirmed they are interested in returning to the world of F1, but have several conditions which would have to be met.
And at the end of last week AUTOSPORT revealed that Cooper Avon were throwing their hat in to the ring at the last minute as surprise contenders to supply tyres to the teams.
Now AUTOSPORT have revealed that several team bosses are optimistic that a deal can be agreed before the Spanish Grand Prix.
Discussions took place between teams and Bernie Ecclestone in Shanghai last week to try and get a deal agreed as soon as possible, because 2011 car designs need to start being worked on soon.
Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner told AUTOSPORT: “I think there are two credible options potentially on the table and hopefully in the next few weeks it can be finalised.”
However, he would not be drawn on whether he preferred the Michelin or Cooper Avon option. “I am totally impartial,” he said: “I think both tyre companies that have been mentioned are more than capable of producing quality tyres and it is important that specification of the tyre, the quantity, the service and all those elements are right for F1. And also the cost implications as well.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “I think we are making some progress. We have some options and that is something we have got to work out. I hope it will be sorted by Spain. We will see. At least we look like we are going to have some tyres next year. That is a pretty important one, and we now just have to decide how and where and who they are from.”
And Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali confirmed: “Of course it is a point of concern for the future of F1 – there is no doubt about that.
“As far as I can say, as you know Michelin has made a proposal that is under evaluation to make sure that it is the best proposal from the technical point of view and the commercial point of view.
“On the other hand I know that there is a possible discussion to have another tyre competitor who can be ready to come for next year, and I think we will know something more, I would say 100 percent, by Barcelona. So by Barcelona the situation of tyres should be almost clear if not defined.”