BRUSSELS (July 15, 2010)—Bridgestone Corp.'s decision to allow its race tire contract for the GP2 Championship to lapse will mean the end of race tire production at its Rome technical center, according to a Bridgestone Europe spokesperson.
The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) recently awarded Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. the exclusive race tire contract for Formula 1 and GP2 for the 2011-13 seasons.
Bridgestone has not yet made its intentions clear for the remaining infrastructure associated with its activities in Formula 1 and GP2, but expects to do so in the coming weeks.
“The facility for producing GP2 tires is a small one, among our pilot plant facility in the technology center, the space or capacity that it occupies can easily be reused in our R&D operations,” the spokesperson said. “Bridgestone's future will be in producing market-leading tires for the new breed of cars and trucks currently under development. Tire technology is shifting with the vehicle makers and the requirements of new legislation.”
Asked about claims by Pirelli that Pirelli's supply of tires to F1 can be cost-neutral, the spokesperson replied, “I would be very interested to know how Pirelli arrives at a cost neutral situation. A large part of the cost relates to how the involvement is leveraged, so I don't know what Pirelli is planning. We have never publicly announced the total cost of our F1 campaign but I believe it is higher than (external estimates of) $100 million.”
Bridgestone's other major initiatives in motorsports are as exclusive supplier to Indy Car and Indy Car's Indy Lights series (with the Firestone brand), MotoGP World Championship (Bridgestone brand), Formula Nippon in Japan, and as one of several suppliers to the Super GT series in Japan. Bridgestone also supplies tires to the GP2 series in Asia. The status of that contract for next year or beyond is uncertain.