Monday March 19th, 2001
Williams technical director Patrick Head has calmed his fears after early concerns that illegal tyres could lead to protests and courtroom battles during this season.
The Formula One regulations are not clear on tyre wear, but the performance of old tyres in the first two races have suggested there is nothing to worry about.
He believed teams could wear the grooves down to effectively create a slick tyre, which with more rubber in contact with the road, would perform better than a grooved tyre.
However, experience over the first two races has suggested the performance advantage is not as significant as he first expected with both his team's Michelin tyres and rival Bridgestone rubbers.
"When they get to the point that most of the grooves have gone away there seems to be a few laps in them similar to what they were like when they were new," said Head.
"But it doesn't last very long and very soon you are running on base construction rubber and go a lot slower before anything becomes dangerous."
Head did not rule out the possibility of controversy over illegal tyres, however, and believes the next race in Brazil, which is notoriously hard on tyres, could develop some arguments.
"It will probably be the first race where there could be some contention," said Head. "As far as whether a tyre constitutes a groove or not then if there is still a groove visible then it is judged to be a groove tyre."
Williams moved to Michelin rubber this year, and the returning tyre company wanted a clarification of the grooves rule before the start of the season.
But the FIA refused to oblige after Bridgestone felt a change of rules would allow Michelin to join Formula One on a more than level footing.