Tyre situation still unclear as Indy start approaches
The FIA has told Michelin that their teams must choose what tyres to run in this afternoon's United States Grand Prix.
In light of Friday's two failures on the Toyotas, Michelin told the FIA that they are unsure the tyres used in qualifying are safe to race unless the speeds in Turns 12 and 13 can be reduced, and that they will not allow the tyres to be used on the existing track layout.
In response, the FIA has outlined a number of options available to Michelin, the most obvious being to instruct their teams to run at reduced speeds through the final corner, while not obstructing other cars.
If Michelin teams were to run the new tyres they would face a penalty. The FIA stated that this was unlikely to be exclusion from the race, but that it would be heavy enough to ensure teams were not tempted to change tyres after qualifying at future events.
Another option available to the teams would be running the existing tyres, but changing them frequently if they could show this was needed on safety grounds and if no competitive advantage was gained. Using more than their allocated tyres could, however, present further complications.
Finally, the FIA ruled out the possibility of modifying the track to slow the entry into Turn 13, as this would be outside the rules and also unfair to Michelins Bridgestone competitors who have had no problems with their tyres.
After receiving these guidelines, Michelin went back to the FIA on Sunday morning, repeating their requests to have the speeds in Turns 12 and 13 somehow reduced.
In his response FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting stated: "As explained in our earlier letter, your teams have a choice of running more slowly in Turn 12/13, running a tyre not used in qualifying (which would attract a penalty) or repeatedly changing a tyre (subject to valid safety reasons). It is for them to decide. We have nothing to add."
What the Michelin teams will actually do remains unclear. Some are likely to be unhappy if they have to run different tyres to those they tested all through practice, and there has even been speculation that some might simply take the start and then retire. More news to follow as developments occur.
For more on the Formula One tyre regulations click here.