Tyres have often been a talking point this year and even though the season is over the bickering continues in regard to the round black rubbery things. Flat-spotted tyres, delaminating tyres, only one set of tyres; the list goes on. The World Motor Sport Commission announced this week that tyre changes during a race will return next season, which has provoked another bout of disagreement.
Some will be happy to see tyre changes back again as the one set of tyres for qualifying and race rule has often been criticized. However, Michelin declared itself to be "perplexed" by the reintroduction of the changes, which it said was "incoherent" with the cost-cutting objects of the FIA. It went on to say that the decision "reveals a lack of technical understanding of the product and of what a tyre really is."
The French manufacturer claimed the decision negated the effects of its research into designing tyres this season. "Michelin, therefore, questions the FIA's hidden motivations for the 2006 F1 regulation," it said in a statement. "Once again, this event illustrates the F1's problems of incoherent decision-making and lack of transparency."
In due course the FIA responded with a statement of its own, in which it claimed the decision to reintroduce tyre changes "was supported by an overwhelming majority of the Formula One Commission members and by a unanimous vote of the FIA World Motor Sport Council."
It concluded: "Michelin are clearly confused, but it is difficult to understand which part of the very basic and entirely democratic voting procedures adopted by the FIA that Michelin is perplexed by. As Michelin themselves point out this is the same regulation as in 2004 when, we must remind them, their tyres ran without problem at Indianapolis."
Perplexing, incoherent, confusing; it sounds like the new qualifying system. This is not the first time the FIA and Michelin have been involved in a war of words, most of the instances this season arising in the aftermath of Indianapolis. Next year the manufacturer will supply only five teams, Renault, McLaren, BAR Honda, BMW and Red Bull, while Williams and Toyota make the switch to Bridgestone.