AUGUST 24, 2001
Bridgestone cries foul over Toyota test
JAPANESE tire supplier Bridgestone has voiced its frustration that the Toyota team, running on rival brand Michelin's rubber, was allowed to test at Spa so soon before next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, potentially gaining invaluable data for its French counterpart.
An FIA regulation dictates that all current competitors cannot test at the circuit that will play host to a race three weeks before the event, but the new Toyota team, which will enter Formula One next year, gets an exemption because it is supposedly not yet a registered competitor.
"I am not comfortable with it because I think they got some advantage from running at Spa,' said the Japanese firm's technical director, Hisao Suganuma. "Although Toyota might not be at the top level, Michelin can still evaluate between different specifications. I think they can get basic information. It is a very unfortunate situation for us, but it is difficult to stop them - not only at Spa, but also after the end of the season."
Toyota, which is being threatened with anything up to exclusion from 2002 if the existing teams have their way for a breach of the FIA's testing regulations, denies that it is doing anything wrong however. "We are not trying to get an unfair advantage and Michelin will supply us with standard and control tires, which they did last week at Spa-Francorchamps," said team boss Ove Andersson.