Japanese tire-maker Bridgestone has been supplying every team on the Formula One grid since rival rubber company Michelin pulled out of the sport at the end of the 2006 season. But whereas Bridgestone had gone through 2007 as the exclusive tire supplier by default, the ink has now dried on the contract that makes them the exclusive tire supplier by design.
The deal secures Bridgestone's monopoly in the pinnacle motorsport series from 2008 through 2010. Although the deal was reportedly secured in 2006, but it just became official.
While many other racing series around the world have similar arrangements with various tire suppliers, Formula One has traditionally been a bastion of pure competition. The tire deal, however, prevents companies like Goodyear, Pirelli and Michelin from returning to F1, joining the institution of a common engine control module, the recent freeze on engine development and drastic restrictions on testing in "leveling the playing field" and thereby reducing the degree of competition in F1.
Full press release after the jump.
[Source: Bridgestone via Autosport]
Bridgestone Motorsport Confirms Official Tyre Supplier Status From 2008
Bridgestone Motorsport is pleased to confirm that it will commence a three-year contract with the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) from 1 January 2008 which will see Bridgestone become Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship.
The three-year contract is the result of a successful tender process with the sport's governing body, which was held in 2006 and will cover the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Bridgestone was also the only tyre supplier in Formula One during the closely-fought and thrilling 2007 season in which Kimi Raikkonen and the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team took both the drivers' and the constructors' championship titles on Bridgestone Potenza tyres.
The opening round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship will take place at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia from 14-16 March 2008.
Hiroshi Yasukawa - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport, said:
"Becoming the 'Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship' is a prestigious honour for Bridgestone and we await the start of the 2008 season with great anticipation. Our participation in Formula One is a core element of our company's expansion and development and this is an exciting step for us as a company.
"To be chosen by the FIA as the 'Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship' shows the high regard we are held in by the sport in which we have participated since 1997. We will continue to use Formula One as a global platform for promoting our brand and look forward to continuing our collaboration with the FIA Foundation to promote the 'Think Before You Drive' road safety campaign, the agreement for which has also recently been confirmed for the next three years.
"As the sole tyre supplier to Formula One in 2007, we all saw a dramatic and exciting season with very close competition. We strived to treat all teams with fairness and we believe we did a good job. It was an epic battle with Kimi Raikkonen crowned the drivers' champion at the final round and in our role as 'Official Tyre Supplier' we now look forward with great anticipation to some equally exciting battles over the next three seasons."