The best form of crisis management is to avoid a crisis in the first place.
Make no mistake, that is exactly what motorsport’s governing body has achieved as the prospect of a new tyre war in Formula One looms ever closer. Bridgestone commenced its testing in earnest last month, and the Japanese manufacturer’s challenge to Goodyear’s monopoly threatened to tear the sport apart.
The inevitable return to qualifying rubber could have increased speeds by as much as four seconds per lap. At worst, that escalation would have destroyed all the advances in safety made since that dark weekend at Imola two years ago. At best, the war would have necessitated further drastic changes to circuits already emasculated by chicanes, or led to an expensive re-design of the cars at a time when escalating costs are driving privateer constructors out of F1.
The FIA looked to be between a rock and (given the impending reintroduction of sticky rubber) a soft place…
One solution was to invite the companies to bid for a contract to become F1’s sole tyre supplier. But such a move would have undermined the very competition and exploration of technological frontiers upon which the category was founded.
The other avenue open to it the banning of qualifying tyres was easy. Enforcing that ban certainly wasn’t. But by reserving the right to select a team’s permitted 28 tyres at random, and insisting that manufacturers bring only one dry compound to a Grand Prix, the FIA has neatly found its way out of a labyrinth which, at first inspection, appeared impenetrable.
Thanks to an inspired move from the governing body, peace, for the time being at least, has broken out. M S