Formula 1 teams hope to finalize their tire choice for next season by the Spanish Grand Prix next month, with both Michelin and Cooper Avon interested in supply deals.
Cooper Avon has emerged as a surprise late contender to supply tires for 2010 – with not all teams happy with the commercial terms currently being offered by Michelin. 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.
Although no final decision has been made about the preferred route for next season, several team principals are optimistic that the matter can be resolved in the next few weeks. 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 finalized."
When asked whether he favored the Michelin or Cooper Avon route, Horner said: "I am totally impartial. I think both tire companies that have been mentioned are more than capable of producing quality tires and it is important that specification of the tire, the quantity, the service and all those elements are right for F1. And also the cost implications as well."
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who met with Ecclestone, said: "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 tires next year. That is a pretty important one, and we now just have to decide how and where and who they are from."
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali added: "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 tire 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 tires should be almost clear if not defined."