Goodyear sniffing again

GOODYEAR's competition boss Stu Grant will be at the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend and is expected to meet Bernie Ecclestone. Goodyear has been out of Grand Prix racing since the end of 1998 when the company ended what was effectively 33 years in Formula 1, a period which gave the Akron company a record 368 Grand Prix victories. The decision to withdraw from Formula 1 came from the company's then new chief executive Sam Gibara who was intent on bigger fish, notably the takeover of Sumitomo Rubber Industries (Dunlop). The racing division at Goodyear was appalled. The axing of Goodyear's major sporting involvements resulted in widespread discontent within the group and many of the firm's experienced tire engineers moved to other firms or retired. The racing group suffered badly.

In recent months there have been some important changes within the top management at Goodyear with a new chief operating officer and a new head of marketing. Our sources in Akron say that it has been concluded that withdrawing from Formula 1 was a bad move and that the company is now thinking of ways to get back in to the sport. This will take time and money. If the company wishes to enter F1 it must give the FIA warning of at least a year so that if Goodyear is thinking of coming back to F1 this could not happen until 2003. This, however, might turn out to be good timing as Ferrari and McLaren are both coming to the end of their contracts with Bridgestone and Goodyear might be able to pick up a top team without having to wait a year to prove that they have good tires.

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