| SUZUKA, Japan
SUZUKA, Japan Oct 8 Bridgestone motorsport
boss Hiroshi Yasukawa enjoyed a trip down memory lane on Friday
as Formula One's official tyre supplier prepared for a home
farewell after 14 seasons on the starting grid.
Recalling how he watched the first motorcycle race at the
Honda-owned Suzuka circuit as a schoolboy in 1962, and then in
later years came to rub shoulders with some of motor racing
greatest champions, Yasukawa will clearly miss Formula One.
"In 1976 and 1977 we supplied our tyres twice to Formula
One in Fuji and at that time our dream was that one day we
would come into Formula One," he said after Japanese Grand Prix
"Always I had a dream that one day I wanted to join Formula
One. Then in 1997 we started and in 1998 we got the world
champion with Mercedes Benz McLaren and at that time we had
very good competitors.
"Now (we are) just by ourselves and very unfortunately we
are going to stop at the end of this season."
For the last three seasons, since rivals Michelin departed,
Bridgestone have started every race knowing that their products
will both win and lose -- sweeping every podium and bringing up
the rear in equal measure.
They have won 171 races and 10 respective driver and
A pavilion at Suzuka documents for Japanese fans the highs
and lows of the company's time in the sport and seven-times
world champion Michael Schumacher visited the company's Tokyo
headquarters earlier in the week.
Schumacher, now with Mercedes but once dominant with
Ferrari, won 58 races on the tyres and scored more points than
any other driver.
When the season ends in Abu Dhabi in November, Pirelli will
take over as new sole supplier and Bridgestone will focus
mainly on MotoGP, IndyCar and Super GT.
The company's F1 exit follows that of Toyota Motor at the
end of 2009 season and Honda in 2008.
Yasukawa said Bridgestone's investment, estimated to have
peaked at about $100 million annually including research and
development, had paid off since he first asked F1 Supremo
Bernie Ecclestone about buying advertising space at races.
"I contacted Mr. Ecclestone and Bernie asked how many races
did we want to buy signboard space for, and I said, 'all
races'," he told Reuters with a chortle.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford; To query or comment on this
story email firstname.lastname@example.org)