Pirelli has admitted that it could perform a U-turn on supplying tyres to Formula One next season if rival Michelin's demands for 18-inch wheels are accepted by the governing body.

The French company made the request for F1 to do away with its current 13-inch diameter last week, claiming that it would be more cost-effective to provide similar tyres to its sportscar programme, and Pirelli has now picked up on this, backing up Michelin's belief that the change would also have more relevance to their respective road car products.

Having not seen a viable replacement for Bridgestone on the horizon since the Japanese giant announced that it was ending its participation at the culmination of the current season, Michelin's emergence as a contender - and rumoured favourite among FOTA members - has also prompted Cooper/Avon and, now, Pirelli to come into the open. Cooper confirmed on Wednesday that it had been approached about a possible supply, and was in talks, while Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera has admitted that the Italian concern may also be open to changing its minds, having initially denied an interest in returning to the top flight for the first time since 1992.

While the Cooper/Avon 'bid' is expected to be cheaper and, therefore, more beneficial to the teams - and may also find favour if it does not insist on a change in wheel dimension - Pirelli could provide the 'tyre war' element that Michelin also suggested would be favourable to its involvement.

"This is something we have been pushing for for years," Tronchetti told Italian news agency i>ANSA, "These two factors are very interesting, even if there is nothing concrete as yet. However, should change go in this direction, we would consider a return to F1."

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