Team McLaren is not expecting a special treatment from Michelin next season after switching from Bridgestone tires. "The starting point of a relationship with a tire company has to be total equality," team boss Ron Dennis said in a briefing at the...
Team McLaren is not expecting a special treatment from Michelin next season after switching from Bridgestone tires. "The starting point of a relationship with a tire company has to be total equality," team boss Ron Dennis said in a briefing at the headquarters of McLaren's Formula 1 partners Mercedes, in Stuttgart.
"Other teams that are on their tires will not - and we would not expect them to - have anything detrimental coming out of our agreement with them (Michelin) and vice-versa. "Our objective is to improve and contribute to improving tie tyre." Dennis added the agreement "does not give us an advantage over the other teams, all teams will get the benefit", adding that McLaren had been happy with Bridgestone but had wanted more technical involvement next season.
He said that was why the team announced this week a switch to the French manufacturer. Bridgestone continue to supply champions Ferrari and four other teams. "The switch was made because we wish to take our technical understanding, in respect of the role the tyre played in the performance of the car and the suspension, to a new level," Dennis said.
"But we felt strongly that we wanted to go further in technical collaboration than we have ever been before with a tyre company." Williams, who have pushed McLaren hard all season and won as many races, also use Michelin, as do Jaguar, Renault, Prost, Minardi and Toyota.
Dennis rejected the commonly held belief that Ferrari and Michael Schumacher had been favoured by Bridgestone in 2001 over McLaren. "We raced always on the same tires. All teams have levels of paranoia and I don't think we are the exceptions," he declared. "You scratch your head and you wonder but I have to say that there is nothing that we have ever come across, no factual piece of evidence, that would support the view that any team on Bridgestone... had an advantage over us," Dennis added. "Our decision was about the future, not the past."
Also, according to reports in the Brazilian press, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has asked Mika Hakkinen to take up testing duties in January in order to help the team prepare for their first modern-day season running on Michelin tires.
Hakkinen has already told the press that a car would be made available for him to test should he so desire in 2002. His input is also likely to be invaluable for the team, considering he has experience of winning two world championships (1998 and 1999) using tires from rival manufacturer Bridgestone.
However the Finn has stated that he feels washed out from racing, professionally and for a hobby, since he was six years old, and that he desperately wants a break and to spend time with his family. Although he is confident that he will want to return to Formula 1 in the future, January may be too soon for him to do so. The Finn promised to make a decision on Dennis' proposal soon.