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Bye bye Bridgestone - It's not easy being green - Waving goodbye to Formula One's outgoing tyre supplier

Published by Christine

This weekend not only sees the end of the season but the final race featuring Bridgestone tyres. The rubber manufacturer has been participating in the sport for 14 years but has finally decided to call it a day and retire from the series gracefully. Or so we hope. There's one race left to go, and at Abu Dhabi, anything can happen. What we do know is that the winner will carry Bridgestone on their baseball cap.

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Credit: Bridgestone Motorsport

The company have been partnered with F1 for a long time. Lasting well over a decade is a feat to be applauded in what is a very technical, political, frustrating but rewarding sport. The Director of Bridgestone Motorsport, Mr Yasukawa has the following to say about their time in F1:

We are proud to have participated in this wonderful sport for the past 14 years and I would like to thank all our fellow participants and Formula 1 fans for embracing us and the Bridgestone brand in this period. We have benefitted tremendously in terms of brand awareness, business relationships and technological development from Formula 1.

- Mr Yasukawa

They have definitely gained brand awareness thanks to their presence in the paddock, but it hasn't always been simple. The Great Tyre War with Michelin offered the best exposure, pushing rubber into the heart of the action. However, since Michelin withdrew from F1, it's been much harder for Bridgestone to keep their name in the headlines.

It seems you blend in

Bridgestone Stats (post race)
Grand Prix Contested242
Pole Positions168
Constructors Championships11
Fastest Laps170
Drivers Championships11

We've seen plenty of tweaks to the regulations in the interim, from mixing up compounds, to eco-green stripes, and the return to slicks. Some changes have been good, others less so. We could have lived without the green stripes, but it's clear that without a rival within the sport, the bottom of the barrel needs to be scraped. I don't think anyone was particularly surprised when Bridgestone announced their decision to pull out of F1, but it is definitely the end of an era.

A return to a tyre war would reduce the costs of being the sole supplier, but increase expenditure on research and development, although it would make the battle in the laboratory much more interesting.

Regardless, Bridgestone Motorsport have made the decision to leave, and they're going to stick with it. Director of Tyre Development, Hirohide Hamashima talks about the end of their sole supply deal:

Our second period of being the only tyre supplier in Formula 1 was characterised by intensely close championship battles. We concentrated on our quality control to ensure that the tyres supplied to all teams were the same, allowing these close championship battles, which provided a fantastic spectacle for Formula 1 fans around the world.”

- Hirohide Hamashima

Nicer being yellow

With Michelin out of the picture, and Bridgestone about to make an emotional farewell, it is to Pirelli that we turn our attention. They've signed up for a three year deal with F1 to be sole supplier, and will be hoping to repeat some of their earlier success. They've dropped in and out of the history of the sport many times, but the crucial statistic is that Pirelli have thus far won 44 races out of 200 GP starts.

They take over a legacy of green stripes and slick compounds, but they are determined to make something good out of what has become a crucial part of the race weekend. From the Pirelli press office:

The global visibility guaranteed through extensive media interest in Formula One, together with dynamic plans to leverage Pirelli's involvement in an activity central to the company's core business, represents a unique opportunity for the brand to maximise its return on investment.

- Pirelli Statement

Once again, the main thing the company want out of the sport is brand awareness. Time will tell if they are able to fare better than their predecessors. In the meantime, enjoy Bridgestone's final Formula 1 race on Sunday, they still have their part to play in this crucial championship decider.