Kumho Tires set to enter F1

UPDATE The Korean tire company Kumho is rumored to be on the verge of announcing a plan to enter F1 to improve the company's worldwide visibility. Much will depend on the F1 tire regulations which are announced in the next few days but we would expect to see the tire war intensifying rather than calming down. While this might provide a little more uncertainty in races, it is going to be tough for the newcomers to take on the big players who have years of F1 experience. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: If these rumors that persist turn out to be true, Champ Car would be wise to change their tire and wheel size to that of F1 because at that point the following companies will be supplying F1 size tires to the Industry – Bridgestone/Firestone, Michelin, Kumho, Avon, Yokohama, Dunlap, whereas the only company making IRL/Champ Car size tires would be Bridgestone/Firestone.] 09/08/04 [Editor's Note: As more and more tire manufacturers make F1 size tires it becomes even more critical that Champ Car adopt F1 size wheels and tires on its next generation car so that companies who want to also do Champ Car can make the switch easier. There are other companies that make those size tires too. Even the GP2, Euro3000 and A1GP series are adopting F1 size tires and wheels. The higher sidewalls of the F1 tire (as compared to low-profile tires seen in some series) give the driver more feel for what the car is doing, hence you see less driving-on-rails (boring) action.] According to this week's Autosport Magazine, F1 is poised to have a third tire supplier within the next three years after South Korean company Kumho gave the green light to ambitious plans to take on Michelin and Bridgestone. Autosport understands that preliminary work on designing and building an F1 tire has already started and that the company is now evaluating how best to make the step. This makes a graduation to the top level unlikely before 2007. The company has set aside a development budget of around £15million for work on the F1 project and is willing to spend more than £30m per season when it finally decides to commit to F1.

A spokesman said: “The exact timing of a participation in F1 will be revealed after a thorough analysis of the expected gains compared to the necessary investments." Kumho is the ninth largest tire company in the world and has an annual turnover of around £1billion. Its involvement in motorsport began in 1992 when it supplied tires to the MG Owners’ Club in Britain. It now provides rubber in Formula 3 – where it supplies the control tire for the Euroseries and high-profile Marlboro Masters and end-of-season Macau event – as well as the Japanese GT series.

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