There has been considerable speculation over the last year as to who is likely to replace Bridgestone as the official tyre-supplier to F1 from 2011 onwards – and now it is being reported that a brace of Korean manufacturers are vying for the honour of filling the void.
Bridgestone announced back in November that it is to end its participation in the top flight 13 years on from arriving as a competitor to Goodyear – and swiftly establishing its superiority over its American rival. Since then, no fewer than ten drivers' and ten constructors' world crowns have been clinched with the aid of the Japanese rubber – and since Michelin's exit at the end of 2006, it has been the sole tyre-supplier in F1.
German publication Auto Motor und Sport
claims governing body the FIA is looking into ways by which it might persuade Bridgestone to reverse its decision to pull out at the close of the forthcoming campaign – with one possibility being an alteration to the regulations whereby team tyre allocations for each grand prix are reduced, which by extension would lead to lower expenditure, with the sport reputedly having cost the company as much as €100 million per season.
It is understood that a three-year contract is on the table, with a final decision due to be taken on 22 January. The major South Korean tyre manufacturers are Kumho, Hankook and Nexen. The first two in particular have considerable experience in rallying circles, whilst the introduction of a South Korean Grand Prix for the first time ever later this year makes the advent of a tyre-supplier from the same country eminently credible for commercial reasons.