Hiroshi Yasukawa on Bridgestone's 2009 season 10 Nov 2009
With the return of slicks, after ten years of grooved tyres, and a new circuit in Abu Dhabi to prepare for, the 2009 season was an exciting challenge for Formula One racings official tyre supplier Bridgestone. Here Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport, reviews the season and looks ahead to 2010
Q: How would you evaluate the 2009 season from Bridgestone's perspective?
Hiroshi Yasukawa: The 2009 season took place in very difficult economic circumstances but within the sport of Formula One we saw fantastic competition. It was great to see so many race winners and such close racing from the cars on track, despite all of the changes. We continued to provide fair service to all of the teams who this year had new challenges with many rule changes. The return to slick tyres was met with a positive response from the teams and the many millions of fans around the world so this was very good for us. The story of Brawn Grand Prix and Jenson Button winning the constructors' and drivers' championship titles was also remarkable and it was a great pleasure to be a part of it.
Q: What does Bridgestone gain from its Formula One involvement?
HY: Formula One is a highly visible marketing tool, not just for our brand but also for initiatives like the FIA's Make Cars Green campaign, for which we carry the green bands on the tyres at all events. As well as our brand name featuring on all of our tyres at races there is also circuit branding which gains significant exposure. Through working with many of the world's top motor manufacturers we have learnt many good lessons and established very good working relationships with them. For our sales companies around the world our involvement in Formula One gives them unique and valuable access to many top sporting events.
Q: How important has Formula One been for Bridgestone?
HY: Formula One has been crucial to us building the Bridgestone brand around the world. In Japan, the name Bridgestone has been famous for most of our company's history however we needed something that would showcase our performance and technology around the world. Formula One achieves this perfectly as it is one of the world's top sports and the only one where our products can be used as part of the sporting activity. We have developed many good business relationships in Formula One and we have worked very closely with the teams, the FIA, FOM, the circuits and it has been a pleasure to work with them this season. We also thank our staff for their hard work this year.
Q: How will Bridgestone approach the 2010 season?
HY: Next season will be our 14th season in Formula One. We will continue to deliver safe tyres to Formula One in a professional manner. Safety is always a priority for us and we will continue to promote environmental matters through the FIA's Make Cars Green campaign. It should be an interesting season as there will be no refuelling, which means that our tyres will change and we will also introduce a narrower front tyre too. There are 19 races scheduled with the return to Canada and a visit to Korea for the first time. We also look forward to welcoming new teams to this fabulous sport.