Formula 1 teams have not given up on the idea of convincing Bridgestone to remain in the sport as a tire supplier next year, as they close on a decision about rubber for 2011.
The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) met in the Spanish Grand Prix paddock today to try and edge closer to a decision about which tire manufacturer it would like to use for next season, with Michelin, Pirelli and Avon Cooper all being considered. No final decision was reached at this morning's session.
Although Bridgestone appeared to have totally ruled out a rethink about its plans a few weeks ago, meetings have taken place between its representatives and FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh in the Barcelona paddock this weekend about the possibility of it continuing. Whitmarsh himself admitted that if Bridgestone could be convinced to change its plan to withdraw, then the Japanese manufacturer would probably be the preferred route because it has current technology and understanding.
"Bridgestone have done a great job in F1, and from my perspective if we can convince them to remain in the sport then that would be very strong," said Whitmarsh. "But there are a number of other prospects out there.
"We have to remember though that F1 is a very technically challenging environment and we have to be careful with newcomers that we don't take too big risks in this sport. People who know about F1 minimize the risk. It means engineers get good data to design the cars and we have safe tires next year. If we can convince the experienced operators to be in F1, that would be a good thing."
Teams don't want to be forced into switching to 18-inch tires for next season, because of the huge costs that would entail, which means the current 13-inch designs will likely remain for another one or two years.
Whitmarsh also suggested that FOTA would prefer a single supplier in 2011, rather than see F1 forced back to a tire war as Michelin would prefer.
"We like competition in all forms but we have to be mindful, is this controlling costs?" he said. "The last time we had tire competition it was massively expensive. We have to be mindful that we must keep a grid of 10 or probably 12 teams in F1, and many of those teams are not fit for that level of competition at the moment."