ROME—Formula One racing´s sanctioning body is moving ahead with plans to limit the worldwide racing series to a single tire supplier in 2008, a change that would coincide with a return to slick tires.
In addition to approving these measures for the 2008 season and beyond, the Federation International de l´Automobile will allow Formula One teams to make tire changes during races next year, reversing its decision of a year ago to restrict racers to a single set of tires during a race.
The change to a single tire supplier and return to slick tires—Formula One cars have run on grooved tires since the 1998 season—is part of a competition-enhancing package of measures that includes specifying a split rear wing that would allow cleaner airflow over the car.
This package of changes could be introduced a year earlier, in 2007, if 80 percent of the Formula One Technical Working Group agree to do so before year-end 2005, the FIA said.
Next year each driver will be permitted to use seven sets of dry-weather tires for each event; all tires used for qualifying and the race must be of the same specification.
Michelin called the changes for next year a "step backward" and "incoherent with the...proclaimed policy to reduce costs." It estimates the changes will increase tire development, production and logistics costs by 15 percent.
"This decision reveals a lack of technical understanding of the product and of what a tire really is," Michelin said in prepared statement.
To switch from a tire designed to run for 220 miles in 2005 to a tire that can be changed every 60 miles or less in 2006 will require tire makers to design an entirely new generation of tires and will therefore increase costs, the French firm said.
"We can only question the meaning behind this decision, which negates all of the benefits of Michelin´s research in 2005 to design a tire capable of running for (220 miles), allowing its partners to win 18 races throughout the year," the firm said.
The tire maker said it questions the FIA´s "hidden motivations" for the 2006 F1 regulation and "illustrates...F1´s problems of incoherent decision-making and lack of transparency."
Michelin also said its partner teams sought in vain to block the rules change.
Bridgestone Corp., the other tire supplier to Formula One, has not yet commented on the announcement.