Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the sanctioning body for Formula One auto racing, is "strongly in favor" of restricting the tire supply to a single manufacturer, perhaps as early as the 2006 season.
Paris-based FIA, which sanctions a wide range of international and European motorsports series, said it would invite the tire makers now supplying F1-Bridgestone Corp. and Group Michelin-to a meeting this spring to discuss this option in further detail, according to the minutes of a January federation meeting in London.
Bridgestone has been supplying F1 teams with tires since the 1997 season and Michelin since 2001. Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher has won five consecutive driver's championships using Bridgestone tires.
The FIA also is looking at returning to slick tires, albeit with only three compounds fixed for the entire season. F1 has required tire suppliers to make tires with circumferential grooves in an attempt to reduce cornering and braking forces to help control speed.
Now, however, teams are suggesting that the FIA rework the design rules to reduce aerodynamic downforce levels and increase tire grip as a way to create more passing opportunities.
Restricting the tire situation to one supplier would help teams reduce costs since they wouldn't have to spend so much time testing tires. The Williams F1 team, one of the 10 teams in F1 racing, estimated this change would result in savings of as much as 8 percent of its annual budget.
``Our position is clearly that we want to remain involved,'' said Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports for Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire. ``We would rather have competition, but if we can't have competition we'd rather be the (sole) supplier than not be the supplier.''
Michelin has not commented publicly on the proposal.