Minardi to lodge protest over tyre dispute

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart is to lodge an official complaint with the FIA over the team's dispute with Bridgestone that left it using Avon Formula 3000 tyres in this week's test.

Minardi to lodge protest over tyre dispute

The Australian claims that Bridgestone has an obligation to supply his team with tyres under F1's sporting regulations, which state that a tyre manufacturer must be prepared to supply half the field. But Minardi has yet to agree a deal with the Japanese company, despite being in negotiations for a supply of rubber since October last year.

In a statement issued yesterday (Thursday), Stoddart said: "It is with great regret that, yet again, Minardi is forced to deal with the face Bridgestone has chosen not to supply the team with tyres at Valencia today. Sadly, we are now left with no choice but to make an official complaint to the FIA, as we believe Bridgestone is in clear breach of its obligations under the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations.

"Unfortunately, because of Bridgestone's total lack of communication and cooperation over this matter, we have wasted two valuable days of pre-season testing here in Valencia - something that, in the current climate, Minardi could ill afford to do."

In response, Bridgestone issued a statement which said: "Bridgestone received a request from the Minardi team regarding the supply of tyres for the forthcoming season in October 2002 and this request was carefully considered. During this time, Minardi continued to test with tyres supplied by Bridgestone's rival. Bridgestone subsequently explained its situation to the Minardi team.

"Following a second enquiry seen by Bridgestone in the New Year, Bridgestone agreed to reconsider Minardi's request and sent a proposal to the team for the supply of tyres for the 2003 season. Negotiations between the two parties are currently taking place.

"However, for legal and insurance reasons, until all formailities have been completed it will not be possible to supply Bridgestone tyres. Bridgestone is looking forward to a successful conclusion to the negotiations with Minardi."

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