MAY 25, 1998
Ferrari and Bridgestone
THERE were many rumors in the days before the Monaco GP which suggested that Ferrari had tested Bridgestone tires at Fiorano last week. These were denied by both Ferrari and Bridgestone managements and similar stories which hinted that Minardi might have tried Goodyears to give Ferrari an idea of the advantage to be gained from the Japanese tires. These stories were also denied.
There is no doubt, however, that Ferrari would very much like to switch to Bridgestone in order to close the gap that exists between the F310 and the McLaren-Mercedes. The drawback of a switch to Bridgestone is that if the Ferrari is not competitive on Bridgestone tires there would be no excuses left for the Italian team, a situation which could have disastrous consequences on Fiat's funding of the Ferrari's F1 program.
While there is little doubt that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone would love to see Ferrari on Bridgestone tires - to keep the F1 show lively this year - there is not much to be gained by Bridgestone from such a move. Sources in Japan suggest that Bridgestone is worried that if it takes on Ferrari, Goodyear will simply withdraw from F1 immediately which would have the effect of ending the tire war and stopping all the publicity which Bridgestone is receiving at the moment.
As hopes fade for a change of heart from Goodyear, interest is now centered on whether Michelin will come in and Michelin's racing boss Pierre Dupasquier was spotted visiting the F1 paddock on Friday. He visited the Prost motorhome - his daughter is the team's press officer - but it did not stop Bridgestone drawing attention to the visit.
"Monaco is as famous for rumors as it is for racing," said Hiroshi Yasukawa, "so today we were interested to note the presence of representatives of Michelin as they visited the garages of one of our contracted teams. We would be delighted if Michelin were to return. It would be an excellent move for everyone. We welcome our friends from Michelin and hope sincerely that their company policy changes to enable them to compete against us very soon on Grand Prix tracks."
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