SEPTEMBER 5, 2005
Bridgestone about to be popular again
This weekend in Belgium there will be some announcements about tyres and we hear that Bridgestone will be taking on some new teams in 2006, while Michelin will be cutting back as it suggested it wanted to do a few weeks ago. The big question is which teams are going which way and with most of the current contracts up for grabs it could get quite exciting.
On the surface there seems to be little logic in teams switching from Michelin to Bridgestone but a lot has been happening behind the scenes and it may be that there will be a few surprises. Our sources suggest that there have been some serious changes in the staff at Michelin in the last 18 months, as part of the reshuffling that has been going on and that some the best people involved (at least in the eyes of the teams) have moved. The only high profile defection was when F1 Project Leader Pascal Vasselon departed to join Panasonic Toyota Racing but there have been others as well and that has led to questions about whether the future compounding will be as good as the products have been in the recent past.
The word on the street is that Williams and Red Bull Racing will be jumping ship and heading to Bridgestone. There has also been talk of a change for Toyota. It remains to be seen whether all three teams jump ship, which would create a situation in which Bridgestone would be supplying six teams and Michelin four.
Behind all this there is also a lot of pushing and shoving over the rules for the future with the FIA apparently intent on having a single tyre supply. Michelin feels that competition is necessary to make F1 interesting for the company. Bridgestone is more inclined to take on the role of the unique tyre supplier, even if the level of publicity does inevitably drop if everyone is using the same tyres.
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