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New scandal?

New Scandal? Bridgestone is spraying chemicals on the tyres to make them faster? That's at least what Michelin is saying. Renault and the french tyrecompany went to the FIA and they say there is nothing wrong. Renault accepts this, Michelin doesn't.

This photograph of a Bridgestone engineer in protective gear continues to cause concern for Michelin, despite the FIA providing explanation to the French company on Sunday at Monza.

As autosport.com revealed on Sunday, Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds and Michelin's F1 director Nick Shorrock approached FIA race director Charlie Whiting after the Italian Grand Prix to question the activities of Bridgestone. Sources claim that Renault boss Flavio Briatore also attended the meeting later on.

Symonds and Shorrock were concerned that the picture, which fell into Michelin's hands over the Italian Grand Prix weekend and is now published exclusively on autosport.com, is evidence that Bridgestone could be illegally spraying chemicals on to their tyres.

Such activity would provide tyres with extra grip for one lap, before wearing away to reveal the rubber of the tyre that was better suited to longer runs.

Whiting investigated the matter and subsequently told Symonds and Shorrock that the Bridgestone engineer was wearing the clothing to protect himself from rubber particles released into the air when tyres are cut open for post-session inspection.

However, despite Shorrock saying on Sunday that he was happy with the explanation, autosport.com has learned that there are still doubts over the matter within Michelin.

A leaked memo obtained by autosport.com today suggests that Michelin officials remain doubtful about the explanation from Bridgestone.

"This photo concerns Michelin for the following reasons," said the memorandum. "Normal working practice for a tyre company at an F1 race or test consists of fitting, inflating and demounting tyres. For these procedures we would not use this type of equipment.

"As regards the practice of dissecting and analysing tyres at the track, this also does not call for this type of equipment.

"According to our own environmental experts, this type of equipment would be required in the case of products giving off fumes or toxic by-products. We do not use any such substance at an F1 race or test track."

The FIA currently has no plans to follow up Michelin's complaints and believe that Bridgestone's explanation is satisfactory.

"We are aware of the photograph, we have looked into the matter and we have no concerns," a spokesman for the governing body told autosport.com.

But sources close to the FIA, who do not wish to be identified, believe that Michelin's continued doubts about the photograph are an over-reaction.

Referring to the fact that the engineer appears to be eating a snack, one source cheekily suggested: "The governing body was not convinced that the application of yoghurt to the surface of a tyre would necessarily provide a competitive advantage..."
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  • I'd be more than happy to eat while still wearing my chemical suit. Sure.

    Is it hard to believe that it's to protect his lungs and keep his Bridgestone kit clean?
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