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McLaren: revised tyres may be deemed 'illegal' 09 Sep 2003

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/17D.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring, Hungary, 23 August 2003

McLaren fear their tyres could be deemed illegal at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix - even if they use new designs developed by Michelin in response to the revised measuring procedures.

The FIA has made known its intention to check front tyre tread width after, as well as before, a race, starting at Monza. Under this interpretation of the rules, it is widely thought that Michelin's recent tyres would exceed the permitted dimensions.

In response, the French company has produced new designs, which were trialled by some of its partner teams at Monza last week. McLaren, however, are worried that they may still struggle to pass the new checks, according to reports in the British press.

"Put simply, we can either use the existing tyres and risk not conforming with these revised rule interpretations or we can use new tyres and still risk being illegal despite a loss of performance," McLaren's Managing Director Martin Whitmarsh told newspaper the Guardian.

"Michelin has done a great job, but the changes in set-up we have had to make - to toe-in, camber and tyre pressures - have not worked to our advantage."

Whitmarsh's comments followed a reported meeting between McLaren, Williams and FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting to discuss the changes, which both teams fear could effectively hand the 2003 constructors' championship to Bridgestone rivals Ferrari.

"We talked at length to Charlie but there is still a considerable concern about the issue of approving the tyres' conformity at the end of the race, even though Michelin have produced some new rubber which we tested at Monza last week," said Whitmarsh.

With three rounds of the season remaining, Williams lead the constructors' championship on 129 points. Ferrari are second with 121, with McLaren third on 115.