Bridgestone denies F1 pull-out

Tyre-supplier Bridgestone has denied it is to quit Formula 1 at the end of 2002

Bridgestone denies F1 pull-out

Ahead of the final round of the world championship in Malaysia, Bridgestone motorsport boss Taka Horio said the company had a long term commitment to Grand Prix racing.

He said the Japanese tyre manufacturer wanted to expand its motorsport involvement to Germany's DTM touring car series.

"Rumours of Bridgestone leaving Formula 1 are completely untrue. We have no intention of leaving the sport," he said. "We had a press conference prior to the Japanese Grand Prix in Toyko and our president stressed that this would not be the case and that we will continue in F1 for a long time.

"We are very happy with the way things have been going in F1. We have increased our brand awareness and it is continuing to do that. If we compare this to before F1, we can say that it is much better."

Horio added that Bridgestone would have no problems funding and providing facilities to commit to the two formulae.

"We want to go back into DTM and we think that it is feasible financially to run both operations," said Horio.

Bridgestone's European F1 operation is moving from the current factory at Langley in England to one three times the size near London's Heathrow airport.

"It will be a completely separate operation and we will have all the facilities we need. It will not affect our F1 interests whatsoever," he added. "In Germany, there is very good brand awareness because of DTM and ITC and we know how important this is. We want to keep this and the good relationship that we have with the car manufacturers."

Bridgestone was reportedly turning its back on F1 because of a costly court case in the United States where its Stateside arm Firestone and its tyres are alleged to be connected to 88 car deaths, with more cited in South America.

Horio added: "There is a lot of difficulty in America and this is something that the company must overcome, but it does not affect us and our F1 interests both now and in the future."

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