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  Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 14:53 GMT
Minardi lodge protest in tyre row
Minardi driver Justin Wilson testing in Valencia
Minardi had to use Formula 3000 tyres in Valencia
Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has threatened to make an official complaint to Formula One's authorities following his failure to negotiate a tyre supply for the 2003 season.

Minardi want to use Bridgestone tyres, but have been forced to run on Formula 3000 rubber at a test in Valencia in Spain this week.

This is despite the fact that Bridgestone is obliged to supply Minardi with tyres under F1 rules.

Stoddart said he was now going to take the case to the sport's governing body, the FIA.

Justin Wilson sits in the pits
Justin Wilson will make his debut in Australia in March
"It is with great regret that, yet again, Minardi is forced to deal with the fact Bridgestone has chosen not to supply the team with tyres at Valencia," Stoddart said in a statement.

"Sadly, we are now left with no choice but to make an official complaint to the FIA, as we believe Bridgestone is in clear breach of its obligations under the FIA F1 2003 Sporting Regulations."

Stoddart said that he had not yet been able to arrange a meeting with Bridgestone motorsport boss Hiroshi Yasukawa, despite trying for three and a half months.

Minardi drivers Justin Wilson were thus forced to test in Valencia on Avon tyres, which were not designed to be used on F1 cars.

Stoddart said Bridgestone's decision had meant his team had "wasted two valuable days of pre-season testing - something that, in the current climate, Minardi could ill afford to do."

Minardi are one of several teams struggling to find enough sponsorship to compete in 2003 as the sport feels the results of the global economic slowdown.

Minardi used Michelin tyres last season but the deal with the French manufacturer ended at the end of 2002.

Michelin now expects Minardi to switch to Japanese rival Bridgestone, the only other recognised supplier in the sport.

A Bridgestone spokeswoman said on Wednesday: "We have received a request to supply Minardi and talks are taking place.

"As yet a contract has not been agreed and it is not possible for anyone to run on tyres that have not been signed for."

See also:

29 Jan 03 | Formula One
23 Jan 03 | Formula One
09 Jan 03 | Formula One
17 Dec 02 | Formula One
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