And yet another name has entered the competition to become a Formula 1 tyre supplier for the 2011 season.
With confirmation that Michelin, Pirelli and Avon have submitted entries to replace the departing Bridgestone as Formula 1’s tyre supplier, the South Korean tyre manufacturer Kumho, seems to have thrown its hat in the ring.
Despite having no previous experience in Formula 1, it is thought that the company has submitted a formal letter of intent to supply teams next year, with copies of this letter sent to both the FIA and F1 commercial rights’ holder Bernie Ecclestone, according to Auto Motor und Sport.
Further rumours doing the rounds – no doubt started the F1 teams themselves, who are evidently keen to keep Bridgestone in F1 – were that the Japanese tyre manufacturer was reconsidering its decision to pull out of F1 at the end of the season.
The Formula 1 Teams’ Association (FOTA) has apparently written to Bridgestone Europe, urging the parent company to reconsider its decision, and it is believed that this request has been forwarded to Bridgestone’s CEO, Shoshi Arakawa.
"The request is an honour," confirmed the marque’s F1 boss Hiroshi Yasukawa.
With the time to finalise their 2011 car designs getting ever shorter, the teams are all desperate for clarification as to which tyre supplier, or suppliers, will be successful in being given the nod for 2011. Many teams want this clarified in time for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Assuming Bridgestone is out of the equation, it would seem that Michelin – which is rumoured to have halved its financial terms so as to be more price-competitive with its rival suppliers – would be favoured by the F1 teams.
As for Avon, while its offer of supply is considerably cheaper than its rivals, it has the riskier, unknown quantity by dint of never having been associated with F1 before.
Furthermore, Avon and Pirelli might land up having a hidden cost as a tyre supplier, given the lack of historical data about their tyres’ performance, according to FOTA Chairman and McLaren boss, Martin Whitmarsh.
"The big teams would hire their own engineers to generate data about the tyres themselves," he said. "The small teams could not afford it and we would have a two-class society."
This issue was discussed at length in a FOTA meeting – where the decision to ban the ‘F-ducts’ for 2011 was also signed off – and one would expect this rumbling to continue for a few more weeks until a decision is made…
[Image via Bridgestone Motorsport]