Cooper Avon has emerged as a surprise late contender to supply Formula 1 tyres next season, AUTOSPORT has learned, despite teams having agreed in principle a deal with Michelin.
After weeks of discussions between F1 teams and Michelin about the French tyre manufacturer returning to the sport next season, high level sources have revealed that an official offer for a 2011 deal has now been proposed in writing to the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA).
While what is proposed is believed to have the support of every team, the move still needs ratification from the FIA and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone before it can be put into practice.
However, despite the teams being keen on the Michelin plans - which will include a switch to 18-inch wheels - sources claim that Bernie Ecclestone is not in favour of such a move, and is instead believed to be keen on a different tyre manufacturer getting involved.
AUTOSPORT understands that FOTA representatives are now hoping to meet Ecclestone at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to try and sort out the situation - with him not having yet informed teams what his own preferred route for 2011 is.
A source told AUTOSPORT: "We want to know by the Spanish Grand Prix what tyres we are running in 2011. That is why we plan to meet with Ecclestone on Sunday to see what his idea is."
Sources suggest that Ecclestone is pushing for a deal with Cooper Avon. It is possible that the tyre manufacturer could use former Bridgestone personnel to help service the tyres and ensure it is operating at a level that will satisfy F1 teams.
FOTA has now ruled out any hope of Bridgestone being persuaded to remain in the sport - even as supplier to a few teams - despite a push by the teams to try and convince the Japanese manufacturer to remain after this season.