Aug.7 (GMM) The absence of a competitive 'tyre war' does not mean Bridgestone's formula one tyres are now of a lower quality, the Japanese marque's racing chief Hiroshi Yasukawa insists.
As reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen searched for a reason for his competitive slump recently, he - and, to a lesser extent, other drivers - suggested that the reversion to a single-tyre formula in F1 had affected the consistency of the products Bridgestone now offers to its partners."Our F1 tires are still at the height of technological innovation," Yasukawa is quoted as insisting as CNN.The Japanese also said Michelin's withdrawal at the end of 2006 has not changed the value of the sport to Bridgestone.Yasukawa said F1 still feeds into the marque's road tyre development, while formula one is an "excellent marketing platform" and a way to work with some of the world's largest carmakers.He said Bridgestone entered F1 in 1997 to compete directly with Goodyear, and then enjoyed the 'war' with Michelin.But Yasukawa insists there are other "benefits" of being F1's sole tyre supplier."Brand awareness/recognition was one of the main reasons for our initial entry to the sport," he said.It is believed Bridgestone's UK-based motor racing effort costs around $100m.The contract to supply all F1 teams with tyres continues until the end of 2010.Yasukawa said Bridgestone will assess the situation going forwards at the conclusion of the current deal."The current economic climate is not an easy one so there should always be continual assessments," he said."However, we are committed to our involvement in F1."