Michelin concerned over Prost supply

Michelin has expressed concern that its return to Formula 1 next year may be compromised by supplying tyres to the Prost team

Prost will use Ferrari engines in 2001 and is expected to work closely with the Italian team on technical issues, but Ferrari is contracted to rival tyre manufacturer Bridgestone.

Prost is looking to a Michelin deal after Bridgestone intimated it is unwilling to supply more than six teams next year. The Japanese company's 2001 roster already includes Ferrari, McLaren, British American Racing, Jordan, Sauber and Arrows.

Under F1 rules, a new tyre manufacturer must commit to supplying up to 60 per cent of the grid - and an existing tyre company has pick which teams to drop. Based on that, Michelin must supply Prost.

"We have complete confidence in Alain [Prost] and his organisation and we have had strong relations in the past," said Michelin spokesman Andy Pope in this week's Motoring News, "but it's obvious that Prost will be working closely with Ferrari.

"The information that we would want to supply for modelling with the cars would be very useful to our competition and it's a worry. Ferrari will have engineers working with the team and there is no point in us supplying the team if we don't give it the information it needs. There doesn't appear to be a solution at the moment."

Of Bridgestone's six contracted teams, Sauber also uses Ferrari-supplied engines, while Jordan and BAR are both Honda-powered. With Ferrari and McLaren unlikely and unwilling to change supplier, that only leaves the possibility of Prost swapping contracts with Arrows.

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