Ferrari blew whistle on tyres

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The Independent Online

The FIA have confirmed that it was Ferrari who tipped them off about the tyre dispute that has rocked Formula One.

Ferrari, which uses Bridgestone tyres, believes Michelin-using rivals Williams and McLaren have been gaining a performance advantage from the rubber.

At the last Grand Prix in Hungary, Ferrari, who saw the lead in the title race of their reigning champion, Michael Schumacher, reduced to a single point with three races left, complained to the FIA technical delegate, Charlie Whiting.

In a statement, the FIA said: "As Ferrari have confirmed, it was they who pointed out to the FIA Technical Delegate that tyres which had a tread width of 270mm when new, appeared to be using a greater tread width when in use. Having checked this information, Charlie Whiting warned the relevant tyre company informally immediately after the race in Hungary. On his return to the office three days later he wrote to inform all the teams.

"The rules are not concerned with parts of the tyre which make occasional contact with the track or kerbs, but parts which are in regular or systematic contact with the track and thus constitute tread. There is reason to believe that the tyres in question may not be identical to those in use at the start of the season. There may also have been changes to car set-up, ie changes to the way the tyres were being used.

"The tyres in question either comply with the regulation or they do not."

Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, was quoted as saying yesterday: "It was us who told the FIA at the end of the race that their treads were too big, we are not going to accept losing this way anymore."

He added that photographs obtained by Bridgestone "showed in an unequivocal way that the front Michelin tyres had an excessively large tread at the end of the race or after being used".

*Ralf Schumacher was sent home yesterday after being discharged from hospital following a crash on Tuesday in testing at Monza in preparation for the Grand Prix there on 14 September.