Bridgestone – holding strong/long term?

Sat, 29 October 2005, 05:56

Since 1997 Bridgestone have been a supplier to Formula One for racing tires. With every win and every loss the Bridgestone Formula One teams have been able to fight through it all. The winning… And every post race interview that comes with losing.

In 1998, Bridgestone claimed a first championship victory in a McLaren driven by Mika Hakkinen. This was also the last year that Goodyear graced itself in the pit row. The very next year Bridgestone was the lone tire supplier for Formula 1 and so the challenge turned from supplying a championship winner to supplying all teams with championship winning rubber. In order to avoid preference or bias, logic and theory came together in a magical formula that allowed all teams to conduct business on an even playing field. Michelin came aboard in 2001 and within a couple of years the teams began to follow. This left Ferrari as the biggest player to pick up as much of the test time needed to develop the next race tire.

Michelin has put together a great tire that has passed the test of each regulation change. And until this year Ferrari has gone on to win championships. Next year Formula One will again change the rules and amongst the engine and qualifying rule changes there will also be a tire rule change. That’s correct, next year spectators will get to see the cars race uninhibited by the results of extended tire degradation.

How will the V8 or the retarded V10 handle the new tire rule? Seven sets of tires during the race weekend will help teams keep cars on the course during the race for sure but what about the lap times? Not too mention fuel strategy and its effects during the new shoot out qualifying session.

Many questions unanswered and now a new riff between the FIA and Michelin concerning the rules for 2006(See press releases on October 28, 2005). One question that’s answer is uncertain for 2007 when the FIA have threatened to go to a single tire supplier… Can Bridgestone answer the call again or, as recent history shows the FIA may decide that it is better to avoid controversy in order to better the sport and its future? Michelin may be given a chance to continue their winning ways.

Chris Martinez-Indianapolis USA

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