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GP Week : Issue 81
F1 NEWS >> THE teams met in Barcelona on Sunday to discuss a number of issues, the most urgent being where 2011's tyres will come from. They have said they want a decision this week on the manufacturer and the dimensions and other characteristics. Michelin, Pirelli and Cooper Avon have all registered interest but, as GPWEEK editor Adam Hay-Nicholls revealed in his Opinion column in issue #77, Bridgestone is in discussion with stakeholders about the possibility of supplying the sport for pay. Bernie Ecclestone could then offer the tyres as a branding opportunity to other tyre manufacturers, offsetting the cost for the teams, many of whom are concerned about having to find tyre costs they hadn't budgeted for. Martin Whitmarsh, who is president of FOTA, met with Bridgestone bosses on Saturday afternoon and said: "Bridgestone have done a great job in F1 and if we can persuade them to stay in the sport that would be very strong." Continuing with Bridgestone would keep things simple for the teams, but Michelin has agreed a compromise that would see them supply tyres for 13in rims for the next two years before introducing 18in rubber in 2013. Michelin, like Bridgestone, is a strong global brand, which FOM and the FIA have both noted. Michelin is seeking 3 million Euros per team, but has agreed to halve that in return for a reduced supply. Michelin would favour a competitive tyre war, while Pirelli would rather be the sole manufacturer, at least initially. Whitmarsh suggested the teams would favour a sole manufacturer: "We like competition in all forms but we have to be mindful, is this controlling costs?" he said. "The last time we had tyre 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." There are some concerns as to whether Pirelli and Cooper Avon are up to the job, given they have no modern reference data. GPWEEK understands Pirelli's ideal scenario would be to be sole manufacturer until 2013 in order to learn the ropes, and then open it up to competition. Teams call for tyre decision this week Michelin favourite; Bridgestone wanted; FOTA prefers sole supplier 7