The final day of the Abu Dhabi Young Drivers’ Test event marked the swansong outing for Bridgestone as Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier, with Italian manufacturer Pirelli coming into the fray for the 2011 season onwards.
Pirelli will commence its first tests of its F1-spec tyres this weekend, with the twelve teams to have their first end-of-season test with their regular drivers.
Bridgestone has been a mainstay on the Formula 1 landscape since 1998, although its very first F1 outing was the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix.
The marque re-entered the sport in 1997 as a supplier to several of the lower-grid teams, and it became a competitive force in 1998 (the first year of grooved tyre regulations) when it helped McLaren take its first title since 1991, beating Goodyear runners Ferrari.
From 1999-2000, it was the sport’s sole tyre supplier, and between 2001-5 it was engaged in a tyre war with Michelin, with both companies investing millions to have a competitive edge.
But the 2005 United States Grand Prix saw the downfall of Michelin (its tyres being too unsound to permit the Michelin teams to run in the race), and precipitated the French constructor’s departure from the sport at the end of the 2006 season.
Bridgestone’s statistics make impressive reading, with the outfit having supplied 29 teams and 80 drivers tyres in 244 Grands Prix, of which it won 175 races, took 168 pole positions and 170 fastest race laps.
What are the odds of seeing Bridgestone back in the mix in a few years time? Never say never…
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]