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Last Updated: Monday, 7 April, 2003, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Teams row over tyre rule
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

The safety car leads the Brazilian Grand Prix field
Unsuitable tyres led the race to be started behind the safety car

Ferrari have accused their rivals of causing the farce that led to the Formula One teams not having suitable tyres for the wet conditions at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said the rule that restricts tyre manufacturers to just one type of wet tyre at each race this year was a "cynical" manipulation of the rules by the teams that run Michelins. Ferrari use Bridgestones.

But a designer from a rival team has dismissed Brawn's comments as "sour grapes", saying Ferrari "messed up" when the rule was introduced.

The rule forced the race to be started under a safety car because the intermediate tyres used by all the teams could not cope with the wet conditions.

The limitation to one wet tyre was introduced as part of a raft of changes forced on teams by motorsport boss Max Mosley at a meeting last October.

Mosley wanted to cut costs and introduce more unpredictability into the racing.

The Michelin runners were pleased to accept the one-tyre rule - Bridgestone had an advantage in the wet last season because the Japanese company's intermediate tyre could be used in a wider range of conditions.

Because of that, French company Michelin wanted the rule that restricted supply to just one wet tyre per race, thinking it would give them the chance to make up the performance gap.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Antonio Pizzonia crash out of the Brazilian Grand Prix
A number of drivers crashed out in the treacherous conditions

Brawn said: "Unfortunately, it was a cynical attempt by the Michelin teams to change the regulations. They forced it through at an F1 Commission meeting against the wishes of the Bridgestone teams."

But the rival designer told the BBC Sport website: "Ferrari made a mistake. There were a whole load of discussions about tyre rules at that meeting and all sorts of disagreements.

"Various things were being pushed through by Max and this one was seized on by the Michelin teams because they had a disadvantage with the wet tyres.

"It got carried through at the end of a meeting in which there had been lots of changes."

The Michelin teams - which include McLaren, Williams and Renault - contend that the situation in Brazil came about as a result of Bridgestone's behaviour at the first race of the season.

That is because Bridgestone took an intermediate to the first race of the season in Australia while Michelin took a full wet tyre, with a heavier tread, which cannot be used for as long while the track dries out.

That, Michelin argues, forced it to do the same for Malaysia and Brazil.

The FIA said all teams agreed to the rule late last year and said it was "surprised" that Bridgestone and Michelin opted to take intermediates rather the full wets to Interlagos.

"Given the wet weather conditions commonly experienced in Brazil, it is perhaps surprising that the teams decided to bring intermediate, rather than wet weather tyres," an FIA statement said.

Many teams have said the tyre rules are self-defeating because teams are allowed to use two more sets of dry-weather tyres this year than they were in 2002.

They would prefer to cut dry-tyre availability to eight sets from the current 10 and increase the number of wet tyres.






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