Bridgestone, Formula One’s sole tyre supplier, announced on Monday that it will be departing Formula One after the 2010 season. The Japanese company has been the only tyre manufacturer involved in the sport for three seasons although the Monday morning news in Japan confirms that F1 is now in search of a new supplier.
Having made its full-time Formula One debut in 1997 and won its first race with McLaren and Mika Häkkinen in Australia a year later, Bridgestone has been in competition with both Goodyear and Michelin during its time in Formula One but become the official sole supplier of tyres in 2008, effectively taking the role a season early after French marque Michelin pulled the plug at the end of 2006.
Monday’s news confirms that F1 is now on the hunt for a new tyre supplier and has a full season to find one.
"It is with deep regret that Bridgestone Motorsport confirms that at 10.00am (Japan standard time) today, the Bridgestone Corporation announced its decision to not enter into a new tyre supply contract with the FIA Formula One World Championship series."
Reads a statement from Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport.
"The current contract is set to expire at the end of the 2010 season. The decision made by the Board of Directors of Bridgestone comes after considerable and lengthy evaluations and has been based on the company’s need to redirect its resources towards the further intensive development of innovative technologies and strategic products. While we understand and respect the reasons for this decision, it has nevertheless come as a great disappointment."
"Bridgestone’s relationship with the FIA Formula One World Championship stretches beyond being a tyre supplier. Formula One has been of strategic importance to Bridgestone in developing its technologies, raising the company’s brand awareness and providing its strategic business units around the globe with promotional and marketing tools that are intrinsically linked to our company’s core products."
The statement continues to explain how the company was honoured to be awarded the three-year contact of being F1’s sole tyre supplier and thanks commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, the teams and those who have followed the progress of the company over the course of the past 13 years.
"I would also like to thank the staff of the Bridgestone Motorsport team for their professionalism, dedication and hard work, and for their passion for excellence." Yasukawa continued. "It remains only to reiterate that Bridgestone continues to be wholly committed to the provision of safe tyres of the highest quality to the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2010 and to the running of its tyre servicing operation at the highest level."