Q. How would you evaluate the 2009 season from Bridgestone's perspective?
Hiroshi Yasukawa - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport: The 2009 season took place in very difficult economic circumstances but, within the sport of Formula 1, we saw fantastic competition. It was great to see so many race winners and such close racing from the cars on track, despite all of the changes. We continued to provide fair service to all of the teams who, this year, had new challenges with many rule changes.
The return to slick tires was met with a positive response from the teams and the many millions of fans around the world, so this was very good for us. The story of Brawn Grand Prix and Jenson Button winning the Constructors' and Drivers' Championship titles was also remarkable and it was a great pleasure to be a part of it.
Q. What does Bridgestone gain from its Formula 1 involvement?
HY: Formula 1 is a highly visible marketing tool, not just for our brand but also for initiatives like the FIA's Make Cars Green campaign, for which we carry the green bands on the tires at all events.
As well as our brand name featured on all of our tires at races there is also circuit branding which gains significant exposure. Through working with many of the world's top motor manufacturers we have learned many good lessons and established very good working relationships with them. For our sales companies around the world, our involvement in Formula 1 gives them unique and valuable access to many top sporting events.
Q. How important has Formula 1 been for Bridgestone?
HY: Formula 1 has been crucial to us building the Bridgestone brand around the world. In Japan, the name Bridgestone has been famous for most of our company's history, however we needed something that would showcase our performance and technology around the world. Formula 1 achieves this perfectly as it is one of the world's top sports and the only one where our products can be used as part of the sporting activity.
We have developed many good business relationships in Formula 1 and we have worked very closely with the teams, the FIA, FOM, the circuits, and it has been a pleasure to work with them this season. We also thank our staff for their hard work this year.
Q. How will Bridgestone approach the 2010 season?
HY: Next season will be our 14th season in Formula 1. We will continue to deliver safe tires to Formula 1 in a professional manner. Safety is always a priority for us and we will continue to promote environmental matters through the FIA's Make Cars Green campaign.
It should be an interesting season as there will be no refueling, which means that our tires will change and we will introduce a narrower front tire, too. There are 19 races scheduled with the return to Canada and a visit to Korea for the first time. We also look forward to welcoming new teams to this fabulous sport.