After fourteen continuous seasons, Bridgestone will make its final F1 appearance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend having elected to leave the sport at the end of the year.
At the end of the race, Bridgestone will have contested a total of 242 Grands Prix since making its full time F1 entry at the Australian Grand Prix in 1997. In that time, there will have been 175 wins, 168 pole positions and eleven drivers' and constructors' championships attained with Bridgestone Potenza tyres.
“Abu Dhabi is likely to be an emotional weekend for everyone at Bridgestone Motorsport as this will be our final race,” Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport, said. “I have been involved in Bridgestone's motorsport operations since our very first limited entry in the 1976 and 1977 Japanese Grands Prix and pushed hard for our full time entry which finally came in 1997.
“In this time Bridgestone has grown enormously as a company, with Formula 1 showcasing our company's strength and qualities on a world stage to an enormous audience.
“I have attended well over 200 races myself and have made so many good relationships with the participants in this wonderful sport. Next year will be very different for me and for all of my Bridgestone Motorsport colleagues.”
Bridgestone's primary reason for its F1 entry was to enhance its brand awareness, and for this to be effective, Bridgestone's Formula 1 tyres had to demonstrate strong performance.
In charge of the technical development over Bridgestone's 14 years in F1 is director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, Hirohide Hamashima.
“Formula 1 was a big challenge for our company,” he said. “We entered the sport in 1997 against a very experienced competitor in Goodyear, who had contested so many races before, yet we were able to be competitive in our first season, even when most of the front-running teams were running on our rival's products.
“We scored points in our first race and the first Bridgestone podium came in our second race. We even came very close to a win with Damon Hill in the Arrows Yamaha at Hungary so this was a very good debut for us.”
Goodyear left Formula 1 at the end of 1998, leaving Bridgestone as the sole supplier.