(GMM) Confusion continues to shroud the identity of F1's new tire supplier for 2011. In the approach to the recent Turkish grand prix, and again in the days before Canada, it seemed clear that Pirelli had beaten Michelin to the deal.
"In Istanbul, we were all in agreement that it is Pirelli," confirmed Red Bull's Christian Horner.
The La Provence newspaper is the latest to carry an 'exclusive' report claiming that teams will be shod with Milan-made Pirelli tires next year and beyond, with an announcement due before Valencia. But it is rumored that some powerful figures are objecting to the situation, with Germany's authoritative Auto Motor und Sport reporting that FIA president Jean Todt is also barracking for Michelin.
Reportedly, FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh has also been pushing for the French marque to remain in the running. Michelin's Nick Shorrock said at Le Mans on Thursday that the delay is a serious problem for tire suppliers, but he then told Auto Hebdo that Bibendum is capable of overcoming the hurdles.
"Absolutely," he insisted. "Do not forget that F1 is not an unknown discipline for us. We have the knowledge and the expertise."
It appears that the tire issue is therefore the first head-to-head between Todt, the teams and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who favors the Pirelli proposal. Curiously, throughout the process of negotiations also with several tire companies, no formal tender was enacted by the governing body -- who are supposed to stay out of purely commercial matters. Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder is skeptical that Friday might be the day on which clarity emerges.
"We have heard the same thing for weeks," he said in Montreal.
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