Bridgestone are getting ready for what will be their 200th Formula One grand prix this weekend as they celebrate more than ten years of competition in the world's premier motorsport series.
The Japanese tyre manufacturer arrived in F1 in 1997 to rival stalwart tyre suppliers Goodyear until they left at the end of the 1998 season. They experienced further competition from Michelin from 2001, but while they supplied seven of the ten teams in 2006, they quit at the end of that season.
As such, Bridgestone won the contract to be the control tyre supplier to F1, ensuring that they will head into their 200th race this weekend at the European Grand Prix in Valencia guaranteed of a victory.
For the chairman of Bridgestone, Shoshi Arakawa, it is a major landmark for a company that has been in operation since 1931.
“Bridgestone's participation in 200 Formula One races shows the level of commitment we have given to the sport and we are delighted to be working with all of the teams and so many major motor manufacturers in our current position as official tyre supplier. Participating in a major sport brings us many benefits and, in return, we hope we have helped the sport grow just as we have grown through being part of Formula One.”
Since entering F1, Bridgestone has won 125 grands prix, the first coming at the start of the 1998 season when Mike Hakkinen claimed victory in the Australian Grand Prix season-opener.
They also scored points in their first ever race in 1997, courtesy of Olivier Panis in the Prost team, while the Frenchman and Damon Hill in the Arrows very nearly scored shock victories at Canada and Hungary respectively that year.
Going on to win eight driver and constructors' titles, those statistics justify their tough decision to compete in F1, according to motorsport director Hiroshi Yasukawa.
“Bridgestone is very happy to be celebrating its 200th grand prix since 1997," he said, "Entering Formula One was a big step for us twelve seasons ago, but one which was very valuable as our brand awareness has increased significantly since then.
"Formula One is one of the biggest sports in the world so we are very proud of our role as official tyre supplier for this and the next two seasons.”