By Alex Kapadia
Bridgestone is gearing up for its final appearance as the sole supplier of tyres to Formula One in its home country this weekend.
The Japanese Grand Prix promises to be an ’emotional’ race for the tyres manufacturer, which is bowing out of the sport at the end of the season.
Hirohide Hamashima, director of motorsport tyre development for Bridgestone, said: “Suzuka is a wonderful circuit and one which is very challenging for drivers and tyre engineers alike.
“As we found last year, there is a newer track surface on the east side of the circuit and this delivers different grip levels from those found on the older surface of the west side.
“The nature of the track with its figure of eight configuration tests the cars all round handling characteristics and all four tyres will be subject to many stresses.
“A set-up which gets the best from traction and grip, whilst allowing quick changes of direction from the tyres is required at Suzuka.
“This circuit is also the ‘mother circuit’ for Bridgestone’s Formula 1 tyres. It is here where we first tested and developed our tyres for Formula 1 over 14 years ago, so it is emotional for us to return here in the final year of our Formula 1 participation.”
Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone motorsport, added: “This will be the final opportunity for Formula 1 to be showcased with Bridgestone in our home market and we are looking forward to many promotional activities for our final visit.
“Suzuka is a fabulous motorsport venue which has great importance in Japanese motor racing history.
“We look forward to one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar. We also expect many Japanese fans to enjoy the spectacle at the track and millions of people to enjoy this race worldwide.”