A FOTA gathering of team principals on Sunday morning failed to resolve the question of whether Pirelli or Michelin wins the F1 tyre contract for 2011 and beyond.
The consensus from those emerging from the meeting – which took place in McLaren’s motorhome – was that the contest is still finely balanced, and either party could yet get the deal.
The complication is that the offers from the two manufacturers are not easily comparable, with both sides offering different packages. However the general view is that a tyre war should be avoided at all costs.
The manufacturers, who are OEM customers of both brands, also have a different take on things than the smaller teams.
“It’s not clear cut which way it will go,” Mercedes GP CEO Nick Fry told this writer. “The technical and commercial packages are different. We think Pirelli and Michelin can both do the job, and to be honest we are ambivalent about it.”
As reported on this blog a couple of weeks ago, Michelin has dropped its price from €5m per team to €1.5m. The Pirelli deal meanwhile is complicated by the fact that it includes elements such as track advertising from which the teams ultimately gain a cut.
Pirelli has strengthened its hand by being part of the F1 circus this year as supplier to GP3, which means that the company is gathering data on many of the European venues.