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Sports News

Motor racing-Teams confident 2011 tyre deal is imminent

LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) - Formula One teams hope a deal can be done by this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix to secure next year’s tyre supply.

Mercedes GP chief executive Nick Fry told reporters after the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend that efforts were still being made to try and persuade departing sole supplier Bridgestone to stay on in some form.

However, there were also three solid bids on the table from Michelin, Pirelli and Cooper/Avon to choose from, he added. “I think we’ve got to come to a decision in the next 10 days or so,” said Fry.

“The encouraging thing is that we are in a massively better position than we were three or four weeks ago when it looked as though we might only have one maybe opportunity open to us.

“Now we’ve got three and I think discussions are still going on trying to persuade Bridgestone that they might like to stay. Even if they don’t there’s three options open to us and I think any of those three could provide a suitable tyre.”

Sources at two top teams told Reuters that the choice appeared to have narrowed down to Michelin v Pirelli but others questioned that.

COST ISSUE

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, the chairman of the Teams Association FOTA, hoped a decision could be only days away but said cost was an issue.

“There are four proposals that appear to be out there and maybe there’s another couple as well,” he told Reuters. “I think we are running out of time so we are going to have to make a decision quickly.

“We have got to try and balance the different philosophies. Some of the bigger teams want the lowest technical risk and some of the smaller teams are prepared to accept technical risk in exchange for a substantially better commercial deal.

“The teams are trying to be sensible and mature and balanced about that but we can’t hide the fact that there are those who are fighting for survival that just want tyres for free or whatever and will live with the risks.

“The established teams are prepared to pay perhaps a little bit more of a premium.”

Michelin, who have recent experience of F1 but are considered the more expensive option, have said they will only come back if there is competition among tyre suppliers.

Whitmarsh did not see that as a stumbling block but explained that teams wanted to avoid a costly ‘tyre war’.

“If you use multiple suppliers, it has got to be controlled in terms of testing and development,” he said.

“Philosophically, Michelin want competition and want the opportunity for competition. I think they are very pragmatic in their support of F1 and accept they may enter in the short term as a sole supplier by default...but welcoming competition thereafter.”

Editing by Dave Thompson. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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