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Change in Tyre Rules Leads to Boycott Threats

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, said on Friday that they have sent a letter to the ten teams on the Grand Prix grid warning them of a change in the scrutineering and interpretation of the regulations regarding the width of front tyres.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, said on Friday that they have sent a letter to the ten teams on the Grand Prix grid warning them of a change in the scrutineering and interpretation of the regulations regarding the width of front tyres.

A secret protest following the Hungarian Grand Prix caused the FIA to measure Michelin's front tyres at the end of the race - rather than just when they are brand new - and several examples were found to be oversized.

The FIA have warned Michelin-clad teams, including Williams-BMW and McLaren-Mercedes, that they will take similar measurements at the end of the Italian Grand Prix next week and that, if tyres are again found to be oversized, they may be disqualified.

In a letter written by the FIA's technical delegate Charlie Whiting, the teams are advised that "it has become clear that under certain circumstances the total front tyre contact patch on some cars can exceed 270mm in width, despite the fact that when measured statically on a new tyre the apparent tread width does not exceed the maximum stipulated in the sporting regulations.

"With immediate effect, any part of a front tyre which we consider has been in regular or systematic contact with the track will be deemed tread and will be taken into account when measuring the width of the tyre as defined in the regulations."

Michelin chief Pierre Dupasquier told Atlas F1 that the teams could boycott the race if the FIA do not go back on their decision, although several outfits played down his suggestions there are serious consequences for the championship battle.

"It is possible that the five teams using Michelin tyres do not turn up at Monza," warned Dupasquier. "Our partners would have to spend a lot of money without guarantee they would not be disqualified. It is up to them to decide.

"We know that we cannot make a new tyre in time because it would take a few weeks to design and build it. It is like saying you have to run a smaller sized engine for Monza - it is impossible to do in the timescale.

"So they have no insurance that their tyres will not be oversized at the end of the next race. The current tyre design was made with the insurance that measurements are made on a new tyre and not a used one.

"It is fine if they say it applies to worn tyres, what is difficult is that it is applied with immediate effect. Building a tyre two millimetres less would not lose anything in performance. I think there is another reason for this."

The move could benefit the title challenge of Ferrari, who run on Bridgestone tyres. The Italian team have struggled to compete with the might of Michelin in recent races and they lost the lead in the constructors' championship in Budapest.

McLaren refused to comment on the situation but Williams told Atlas F1 that they are "currently reviewing the consequences of the FIA's decision" because of the serious threat to their championship hopes.

Despite Dupasquier's protestations, however, some sources claim that Michelin will have time to provide a new tyre but that it will not be as competitive as the one currently in use.

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