Like most people who have written about the development of the slick racing tyre, Keith Howard has failed to include one vital element – karting.
Slick tyres were used in karting as early as 1960. In fact Blue Peter, the remould firm, would turn worn grooved tyres into slicks for 30 shillings (£1.50) and by 1961 slicks were common.
Karts not only turned comers on rails, but their tyres served as their main suspension medium. I am not suggesting that the technology of kart tyres is directly relevant to F1 rubber, but the principle was established ten years before slicks appeared in F1. Furthermore, there were people in F1 in 1970 who had raced karts.
As for Ronnie Peterson using slicks at Monaco in 1971, these were qualifying tyres. According to an interview with Robin Herd which appeared in Autosport a few years ago, March was at such a low ebb that they took a gamble and Ronnie raced on qualifying rubber.
In finishing second to Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell in the race, Peterson and March proved the case for the slicks.
I am, yours, etc. John Bell, Chichester, Sussex