Bridgestone Motorsport has admitted it was difficult for its team to concentrate on the French Grand Prix following a helicopter accident on Saturday evening near the Magny-Cours circuit.

Although initial reports suggested that of a number of Bridgestone employees were feared dead, the Japanese tyre manufacturer confirmed following the race that - while a member of Bridgestone personnel and a relative had been on board - they had survived the accident.

However three other people on board were killed when the aircraft came down shortly after leaving the circuit for nearby Castel Donzy.

"I apologise for being brief today," head of track engineering operations Kees van de Grint said ahead of his usual post-race round-up, "but my thoughts were with those who were involved in last night's helicopter accident.

"It was difficult to concentrate on the race."

The accident cast a shadow over the final French GP to be held at the venue, where Kimi Raikkonen secured his second victory of the season and Lewis Hamilton continued his remarkable podium run to extend his championship lead over Fernando Alonso to 14 points going into the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend.

Indeed Magny Cours proved to be an event where the two Bridgestone tyres on offer performed well, with a variety of different strategies being played out during the course of the race.

"We brought two strong performing tyres to Magny Cours," van der Grint continued. "They provided good grip in qualifying and good durability in the race. This meant that any strategy or length of stint was possible, indeed one driver went for two stints using the same front tyres.

"Both the medium and the soft compound Potenza were worthy of the name Bridgestone here today."

 

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