Cooper Avon is being touted as possible tyre supplier for F1 2011, according to the latest rumours.

Michelin, who pulled out from F1 at the end of 2006, had been thought to be favourite to replace Bridgestone, when the firm quits out at the end of this year, and only recently the French tyre manufacturer confirmed that it was in 'formal discussions' with the FIA, F1's governing body, about a return [see separate story - click here].

However Michelin has already said it will only come back if it is suitably compensated, and it is understood that it would not only prefer to see a tyre war again - something that means there will obviously have to be at least two suppliers - but also, it wants 18-inch wheel rims, rather than the 13-inch wheels currently used.

Now though it appears that there is a 'Plan B', and it is alleged that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is keen for Avon to get the nod.

Indeed BBC commentator, Martin Brundle wrote in his latest column for The Sunday Times that Mr E prefers 'a non-branded' and 'much cheaper option' to the one tabled by Michelin.

"We're trying to make an agreement," Ecclestone told BBC Sport. "I [actually] don't mind [which company supplies the tyres in 20011] as long as the teams are happy."

In Friday's FIA press conference, the four team representatives present, namely Peter Sauber, Eric Boullier, Colin Kolles, Adam Par, all said - perhaps not unsurprisingly - that they want tyres for free.

"I think there are at least half a dozen companies in the world who could provide us with good quality tyres, that would give a good show and be perfectly safe," said Parr, Williams' CEO. "I think they are all good companies with good brand names and I think it's absolutely essential that we do a good deal, which means free tyre supply for the teams.

"Secondly, it must be the same for everybody in all aspects because if it's a standard tyre, it's simply not on to have a two tier or a different approach for one team rather than another. So I think we've got a bit of work to do there.

"Fortunately, we have Bernie [Ecclestone] who has been asked by the F1 Commission to negotiate and find that supply and nobody's better equipped to do it than him, so I'm sure we will get what we need."

Sauber and Kolles concurred that it would be better if they are for free, although the former also noted that he would prefer there not to be a tyre war.

"Yeah, for sure, [we want] tyres for free and it's possible but I think what's more important is that we have only one tyre supplier," Sauber noted.

Boullier however, pointed out that the real worry is that no tyre deal is sorted for next season: "First we need to have tyres," he warned, "if possible for free and it doesn't matter if it's a big brand or not, there's obviously a safety issue as well, to have proper tyres. Then, as part of the show, we need to decide if it's only one tyre spec or not. But we need tyres."

Meanwhile in a separate development, rumours continue that Bridgestone might not actually quit after all.

Indeed after Bridgestone said it will continue supplying tyres for MotoGP in 2011, Hiroshi Yamada, Bridgestone's manager for motorcycle racing tyre development, revealed in his view they should stay in F1 as well.

"Obviously we'd have more money to spend [on MotoGP], because the F1 budget is very high, but in my opinion we should stay in F1 too, because our image would lose a lot otherwise," he told Motosprint.


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