A report in the Financial Times suggests that, if Formula One cars continue to develop as they are, within three years they may be too fast for many F1 circuits. As an example, Michael Schumachers qualifying time for the Malaysian GP was four seconds faster than last years pole position time. The tyre rivalry between Bridgestone and Michelin is responsible for an improvement of over a second per lap, says the article, and it warns that, if development continues, steps may have to be taken to reduce the cars performances.
Following on from the story F1 Cars Too Quick For Their Own Good?, The Times claims to have seen a document, written by the FIA, the governing body of Formula One, outlining changes to the sports rules in order to reduce costs and improve competitiveness. These include no power steering, no traction control and a manual gearbox with clutch instead of an automatic gearbox. Suggestions concerning tyres include narrower front wheels and tyres and increased rear tyres to give greater drag for overtaking, no tyre changes allowed during a race and only one tyre supplier, providing a control tyre. The proposals will be debated by the teams over two days in Monaco next week - a meeting which promises to be interesting, to say the least.
Goodyear Eagle F1 performs well in Which? tyre test
Consumer Association magazine, Which? put the leading UHP tyres through their paces recently with the Goodyear Eagle F1 coming top of its category
again. A convoy of cars were driven over 6,000 miles each in order to compile the results, with the spotlight turned on performance in both wet and dry conditions, ride comfort, noise creation, rolling resistance and wear. The Which? test saw the Goodyear Eagle F1 competing in the 17 inch category, a tyre that would normally be fitted on sporty versions of cars such as BMW 3 Series, Ford Mondeo and VW Golfs. The extensive testing saw the Eagle F1 given an impressive score of 70 per cent across all categories, with Which? reserving special comment for its grip in both wet and dry conditions, as well as declaring it the quietest in its section.
Max Mosley, FIA president, is considering putting an end to F1s greatest present day battle, the tyre war, and having just one supplier for all of the teams because he believes it will allow the teams to reduce the number of hours spent testing, which in turn would cut the cost of competing in F1. He added, The greatest controllable waste of money in F1 is testing. If there was just one tyre supplier, you could simply say: No tyres for testing. And that would be the end of it. The teams, though, are already considering a proposal to cut the number of days spent testing.
In the US, the publication Consumers Digest Magazine has named the Goodyear Eagle F1 tyre as the Best Buy in the performance tyre category - an accolade that CDM awards to fewer than three per cent of the products it reviews. The tyre was also rated as the Premium Selection - a designation that means the product is the best at any price according to CDM.
The ruling body of Formula One, the FIA, has made a ruling that could effectively brand Michelins tyres as illegal. This follows a complaint, believed to have been made by Ferrari and Bridgestone, although both have denied it, that Michelins tread is wider than the 270 mm permitted by F1 regulations. If Michelin has to scrap its current tyres, the company cannot possibly modify the design before the Italian Grand Prix on September 14th and Michelins Pierre Dupasquier has suggested that the five teams running on Michelins might boycott the Monza GP. He says: Our partners would have to spend a lot of money without any guarantee that they would not be disqualified. It is up to them to decide.
Goodyears Eagle F1 GS D3 performance radial has performed well in a survey of customers conducted by US mail order company Tire Rack. The tyre scored 9.4 out of 10 in the repurchase category, compared to the next highest score of 8.6. Tire Rack also tested the tyres against Michelin and Bridgestone in both wet and dry conditions and found that, although dry performance was comparable, the Goodyear tyre achieved the best lap times in the wet.
Michelins Motorsport Director, Pierre Dupasquier, has been reported in the British media saying that the tyre manufacturer developed new compounds and constructions for Formula 1 during the winter. Compared with 2002, the new tyres should be about one second quicker per lap and he hopes that the teams Michelin fits in 2003 can break the dominance of the Bridgestone/Ferrari package.
It has been decided by Formula 1s governing bodies that any technical changes will be delayed until the 2005 season. One of the expected changes is the re-introduction of slick tyres, but this has been opposed by Rory Byrne, Chief Designer for Ferrari. He believes that driving on slicks with todays faster lap times would increase the danger for the drivers.
The Goodyear Eagle F1 which has been progressively rolled out around the world through 2002 is to become the first global tyre. The aim of global tyres is to produce tyre sizes for the worldwide market from single region manufacturing points. That is to say, tyres of any given size type will be manufactured in a single region and shipped globally. Currently eight North-American specific tyre sizes are manufactures in Lawton, Oklahoma, and 31 popular European sizes are manufactured in Germany. The global approach will significantly reduce manufacturing and equipment costs. The F1 is the first of many tyres that Goodyear will be offering on a global scale.
Bridgestone, the worlds second largest tyre manufacturer, invited a party of tyre dealers and important customers to the Monaco Grand Prix. And there was reason to celebrate as the first two drivers home were racing in cars shod with Bridgestone tyres. Michelin had to be content with third place, which went to Eddie Irvine. The Bridgestone management is using Formula One events to improve its relationships with important partners, plus involvement in motorsports breeds success – over the past three years brand image and brand awareness have improved significantly in Europe and Latin America. This not only helps to ensure that the ambitious volume targets are met, but has the effect of improving the consumers perception of the quality of the brand, which means that they are willing to pay a higher price for the tyres.
Speaking just before the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, Bridgestone President Shigeo Watanabe said that the company would remain a tyre supplier to Formula 1 indefinitely. He added: Being in F1 has boosted our corporate image generally and has put us at the forefront of tyre technology in the eyes of the world. Our brand awareness has dramatically increased all over the world. Watanabe said that the future would see more car manufacturers involved in the sport and he believes the number of tyre manufacturers will increase also.