Michelin is to make a last-ditch bid to try and win the supply deal for next year's Formula 1 tires, with company representatives due to fly in to Istanbul on Sunday for a meeting with the teams.
Just days after it appeared that Pirelli was close to finalizing contractual terms with the teams to secure its return to F1, Michelin is to make an 11th-hour offer of improved terms in a bid to win over the teams.
A senior representative from the French company will meet with all teams on Sunday morning in Turkey to propose the fresh offer. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed that the meeting was taking place, despite teams having earlier this week all but agreed on taking the Pirelli route.
"I think the teams had narrowed it down to one direction, but the other supplier has offered to do something more than they were offered in the last two days," Whitmarsh told AUTOSPORT. "Someone is coming here to speak to the teams to make an improved offer from what was previously their final offer."
Although Pirelli is the favored route for many teams, some squads would still prefer going with Michelin because it has a proven record in F1. Whitmarsh said that although some outfits were motivated by financial considerations, with Pirelli's offer believed to be 500,000 Euros less cost per team, he reckons it vital that other factors were taken into account.
"I think some teams want the cheapest possible supply, other teams want the highest quality of technical information and technical support," he said. "We've got to design our cars now, and they are going to change fundamentally because of the loss of the double diffuser and other changes. In order to do that, we need to have the characteristics, specification and performance data of the tyres that will be on our car.
"If that is wrong, even for a supplier that is selling it to us for half a million less, the likely consequences is that we will be on to our second iteration of wheelbase or suspension geometry and we will have spent much more than half a million. Also, we should not take for granted that a tire is just round and black with a hole in the middle. We saw what happened at Indianapolis [in 2005] -- you can easily get yourself into a situation where the tires are not that durable. If you have that problem on Friday and start calling off races, then the half-million saving will look quite small."
Despite the lateness of Michelin returning to the table, Whitmarsh said he was confident a firm deal would be in place with either them or Pirelli before the next race in Canada.