Bridgestone to stay as Goodyear set to return

Formula 1 tyre supplier Bridgestone is expected to confirm that it will stay in Grand Prix racing beyond the end of its existing contract leading to a three-way tyre war in 2003

Bridgestone to stay as Goodyear set to return

Bridgestone's current agreement runs out at the end of 2002 and it was thought that the Japanese company would be forced to not renew its contract due to the financial threat of several court cases in America after failures of tyres made by its sister company Firestone.

However, according to this week's Autosport magazine, much of the blame for the failures has been shifted away from the manufacturer, allowing Bridgestone to extend its F1 contract.

Chief executive officer of Bridgestone Shigeo Watanabe is attending this weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, where he is expected to confirm the company's continuing involvement.

American company Goodyear, which stopped supplying Formula 1 tyres at the end of 1998, looks certain to return in 2003 which would create the first three-way tyre war since 1984.

"I would not be surprised if Goodyear were to return to F1," said Bridgestone's director of motorsport Hiroshi Yasukawa. "Bridgestone, Goodyear and Michelin are the world's three biggest tyre manufacturers. It makes sense for us all to be competing in F1."

Bridgestone is hoping to continue supplying the same six teams next year, but could lose customers unless it shows its intention to stay on. Regardless, one of Formula 1's 'big guns' Ferrari or McLaren is expected to ditch Bridgestone in favour of Michelin.

"It is my aim to ensure that we will continue to work with six teams next year," said Yasukawa, "so we can build on the strong relationship we already have."

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