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Bridgestone and Toyota

Autosport magazine reports that Toyota wants Bridgestone to allow them to test on extra days during the winter tests. The Japanese tire company are resisting this suggestion as it would break the agreement already reached over testing and coincidentally require them to supply more tires when their facilities are already under pressure.


Although the team deny any knowledge of the request, it appears that it emanates from the highest level of Toyota management. And Bridgestone are adamant that they will not depart from their previous agreement regarding tests and tires to be supplied in their quest to be even-handed in their new role as sole supplier of tires to F1. A Bridgestone spokesperson said: “The problem we have now is that this has gone beyond one team talking to its tyre supplier. In effect they’ve called their dad and we’ve called ours, so it has gone right to the top and got very complicated.”

Which bodes well for the coming season. Many are expecting that previous Bridgestone customers will have an advantage in the new year because they already have a working relationship with the tire supplier. Yet, on this evidence, it seems that Bridgestone intend to be completely fair in their handling of the monopoly. Taking into account that fact that the tire for 2007 will be completely different from those produced this year, it is difficult to see how any team will have much of an advantage from previous experience of using Bridgestone tires.

And that is how it should be; the idea of a single tire manufacturer was to cut the huge costs involved in seeking a tiny advantage over a competing tire supplier. It may seem a step back from the cutting edge of technology so necessary to F1 but in reality a standardized tire formula enables the engineers and drivers to compete on the same terms, thereby allowing the best engineered cars to reap their just rewards.

It will also take away an excuse for poor performance; teams will no longer be able to blame a bad race result on their tires but rather on their use of them. So the best teams will still come out on top, regardless of whether they have used Bridgestones before or not, particularly as the winter tests should wipe away any remaining advantage to being a Bridgestone customer in 2006.

The team that just might be at a disadvantage over tires is Spyker – they have said that they will not participate in the winter tests, preferring to develop the new car within the factory. This might leave them with some ground to make up in the early part of the season but I can’t see it being significant. Once they have the new car dialled in, it should be as competitive as it was always going to be (which is being very coy about how good I think the Spyker will be – well, wouldn’t you have doubts too?).

So I see the Bridgestone/Toyota news as good for the sport; as long as Bridgestone resist any pressure to vary the testing schedule, the likelihood is that they will be just as fair when the new season gets under way.

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