Analysis: Testing to Resume with Tyre Controversy

Tyres have become the talking point as Formula One teams put a long summer test ban behind them on Tuesday.

Analysis: Testing to Resume with Tyre Controversy

Tyres have become the talking point as Formula One teams put a long summer test ban behind them on Tuesday.

Doubts over the legality of Michelin's front tyres have cast a shadow over the closest championship in years, threatening to boost Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and put the brakes on challengers.

The German is chasing a record sixth title and leads the standings with 72 points, with Williams' Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya on 71 and McLaren's young Finn Kimi Raikkonen on 70 with three races remaining.

Michelin dominated the last Hungarian Grand Prix, their drivers filling the top seven places with Schumacher the leading Bridgestone runner in eighth, and helped Williams seize the lead in the constructors' standings.

Williams and McLaren, with both Montoya and Raikkonen in action at Monza this week, now have to consider the governing FIA's warning of closer post-race tread checks at next week's Italian Grand Prix.

The stewards will be on the look out for any evidence backing up suggestions that more of the front tyre, legal in its unused condition, has been in contact with the road during a race than the regulations permit.

Michelin have sought clarification from the FIA while Ferrari, under intense local media pressure before their home race, and Bridgestone throw everything at the Monza tests to try and regain the initiative.

They will be without Rubens Barrichello for the first day on Tuesday, the Brazilian still being treated for back pains after he crashed heavily in Hungary when his car's rear suspension collapsed.

A spokesman said that in his absence, Schumacher will run at Monza with test drivers Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa while Brazilian Luciano Burti tests at Fiorano.

"We will be looking at new aero packages, something on the engine, electronics and most of all tyre testing," said a Ferrari spokesman.

Barrichello will report to Monza on Wednesday and continue with Schumacher and Badoer on Thursday while Massa moves to Fiorano. The test drivers will also have their own programme for Friday and Saturday.

Although McLaren have yet to officially rule out using their new MP4-18 car, the chances of it being raced at Monza on the 14th are minimal.

"Will the 18 race? Highly unlikely," said team boss Ron Dennis in Hungary. "We'll be testing at Jerez and it's true to say we are concentrating our efforts on the 17D.

"We're running simultaneous tests at both Monza and Jerez with different cars. It means we'll almost certainly be running the 17D in Monza."

Raikkonen and British team mate David Coulthard will be at Monza with the 17D while Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa and Briton Darren Turner test the new car in Spain.

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