Bridgestone to stay 'indefinitely'

Japanese tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has confirmed it is set to stay in Formula 1 "indefinitely"

Bridgestone to stay 'indefinitely'

"Our Formula 1 involvement is extremely valuable and important to our company's global goal," said Bridgestone President Shigeo Watanabe.

The announcement, made at the French Grand Prix, ends speculation that the company was planning a withdrawal as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Bridgestone was believed to be set on building a 'war chest' to cover potential damages from the ongoing legal row involving the Bridgestone-owned Firestone company over a number of alleged tyre failures on Ford's Maverick 4x4. As a result, its multi-million dollar F1 commitment was said to be at risk.

However, the release does not hint at which teams Bridgestone will be supplying in 2002.

Bridgestone says it wants to continue supplying six teams next season, but most Formula 1 observers believe that one of its flagship teams - Ferrari and McLaren - will switch to Michelin, with the smart money currently on the former.

Both teams are already believed to be in talks with the French tyre giant, which already supplies the Williams-BMW squad of double GP-winner Ralf Schumacher among its roster of five active teams, plus the Toyota test project.

Bridgestone has captured three world championships since it entered F1 in 1997.

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Bridgestone to Stay in F1 'Indefinitely'

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