‘Tire’ is Belgian buzzword

The sale of Minardi aside, tires – and their future – were the buzzwords in the Spa Francorchamps paddock on Saturday.

The day started off with speculation that Williams and Toyota would soon confirm their switch from Michelin to Bridgestone.

Williams duly concurred.

The Japanese tire marque, presently struggling with just Jordan and Minardi failing to complement Ferrari's development, announced a 'multi year' agreement with Williams from 2006.

''I would like to thank (Frank) for his faith in our technological capabilities,'' said Bridgestone's Hiroshi Yasukawa.

It soon became clear, though, that Red Bull – previously the most strongly linked with a switch – would not be following suit. A statement said the team 'enjoyed significant success' with French marque Michelin this year.

With 2006 Ferrari power, it was strongly rumored that Red Bull would be Bridgestone clad. But Christian Horner explained: ''(Michelin's) professionalism in dealing with the new single tire regulations was a key factor in our decision.''

The only thing lacking, then, was a Toyota-Bridgestone announcement. It didn't come, although every sign – even from within the Cologne team – suggests that a deal is all but done. Indeed, Edouard Michelin said at Spa: ''We will no longer supply Toyota.''

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