Saturday November 3rd, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
McLaren are not expecting any special treatment from Michelin next season after switching from Bridgestone tyres.
"The starting point of a relationship with a tyre company has to be total equality," team boss Ron Dennis said in a briefing at the headquarters of McLaren's Formula One partners Mercedes.
"Which means that the other teams that are on their tyres will not - and we would not expect them to - have anything detrimental coming out of our agreement with them (Michelin) and vice-versa. Our objective is to improve and contribute to improving the tyre."
Dennis said the agreement "does not give us an advantage over the other teams, all teams will get the benefit", adding that McLaren had been happy with Bridgestone but had wanted more technical involvement next season. He said that was why the team announced this week a switch to the French manufacturer. Bridgestone continue to supply champions Ferrari and four other teams.
"The switch was made because we wish to take our technical understanding, in respect of the role the tyre played in the performance of the car and the suspension, to a new level," Dennis said. "But we felt strongly that we wanted to go further in technical collaboration than we have ever been before with a tyre company."
Williams, who have pushed McLaren hard all season and won as many races, also use Michelin, as do Jaguar, Renault, Prost, Minardi and Toyota. Dennis rejected the commonly held belief that Ferrari and Michael Schumacher had been favoured by Bridgestone in 2001 over McLaren.
"We raced always on the same tyres. All Grand Prix teams have levels of paranoia and I don't think we are the exceptions," he declared.
"You scratch your head and you wonder but I have to say that there is nothing that we have ever come across, no factual piece of evidence, that would support the view that any team on Bridgestone...had an advantage over us," Dennis added.
"Our decision was about the future, not the past."
Published at 09:21:11 GMT