F1 Teams Make Direct Pitch for Bridgestone to Stay
A group of Formula One teams has formally asked Bridgestone Corp. to revisit its decision to leave the series after this season. Faced with as many as six separate bids from other tyremakers to take over as a race supplier, a number of F1 teams opted to make the formal request. Following last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, team principals met with Bridgestone motorsport director Hiroshi Yasukawa, who passed the request on to recently seated Bridgestone Europe CEO Makio Ohashi, who was present at the race.
Yasukawa told Autosport magazine that, “After each race meeting we make a report to Japan, so are going to report to our top board members about what has happened this weekend. Mr. Ohashi has also realized that F1 is very important for Bridgestone. I really appreciate the teams’ approach, and we are happy that they still trust in our company and they wish Bridgestone to stay. Maybe we have to reconsider because of the market and the environment. We also understand that F1 itself is more concerned about the environment now, and there is a new power train coming.
“However, nothing has changed yet,” Yasukawa said. “Our company has said, very unfortunately, that we have to stop at the end of this year.”
Meanwhile, formulaone.com interviewed McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh, who is also president of the Formula One Teams Association, on a range of issues, including tyres. Whitmarsh hinted that “green” issues are an important point with tyremakers participating for the F1 nod, and commented about re-approaching Bridgestone.
“I think we have to be aware that the Bridgestone board has made a decision and, therefore, we’ve got to be realistic. It would provide stability if Bridgestone decided to remain in the sport, but I don’t think individually the teams can influence Bridgestone – and nor should they try. I think the sport has to demonstrate to Bridgestone that we are working together on a number of fronts, including being pragmatic about the regulations that influence tyres and their use. We have to be pragmatic about the regulations to ensure that they can perceive a green or environmental challenge in staying in Formula One. And they have to believe that Formula One is heading in the right direction for a company such as theirs to continue to wish to be involved. Clearly, there are a number of voices within the organization pushing to remain in the sport. I think we have got to see what happens. Clearly, both for the sport and the tyre companies, it would be best if we made a decision quite quickly.
“I think losing any long-term, and particularly technical, partner from the sport is sad. I think clearly some consistency there would be a good thing. Fortunately, there appears to be a number of other tyre companies who are interested in being involved in Formula One. We have got to encourage the offers to come forward as they are, and then try and collectively, with the FIA, the rights holder and the teams, to try and make the best decision for Formula One.” (Tire Review)