It will be an emotional weekend for Bridgestone in Abu Dhabi as they bow out of the sport, to be replaced by Pirelli for 2011.
The race on Sunday will be Bridgestone‘s 242nd since it entered Formula 1 at the start of the 1997 season. In that time they have won ten drivers and constructors’ titles. There have achieved 174 race wins and 167 pole positions (although, admittedly, they have been the sole tyre supplier since 2007).
“We are proud to have participated in this wonderful sport for the past 14 years and I would like to thank all our fellow participants and Formula 1 fans for embracing us and the Bridgestone brand in this period,” said Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport. “I can clearly remember our first Grand Prix in Australia in 1997 where we also saw the first championship points achieved with our tyres. Since then there have been many more points, pole positions and wins with exciting championship battles along the way and it has been hugely rewarding to participate.
“Abu Dhabi is an appropriate location for our final Grand Prix as it represents the strength and appeal of this fantastic sport with the superb Yas Marina circuit. The Middle East is an important area for our business development and I think we will leave a lasting impression here. Although we are leaving Formula 1 we retain our respect and appreciation for this great sport.”
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, turns his attention to the race, commenting that the day-night nature of this event provides a unique challenge to the teams in terms of tyre management.
“Last year was the first time we visited Abu Dhabi and we learnt a lot about the circuit on that first weekend,” explained Hamashima. “The track layout is certainly challenging with a long straight which presents a good overtaking opportunity heading into turn eight.
“The desert location meant there was a lot of sand on the surface at the beginning of the weekend, and this was a contributory cause of graining. The asphalt was very new, meaning that it was very smooth and dark. It will be interesting to see how the surface has evolved in the 12 months since we were last there.
“Track temperature was an interesting factor last year. In the heat of the sun it reached over 50 degrees Celsius, but after the sun set in the race the temperature dropped by seven degrees meaning it is important to monitor the tyre temperatures as this occurs.”