Picture gallery: Bridgestone in F1, 1976-2010

2010 F1 season review

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1996: Suzuki tests Bridgestone's F1 tyres

Bridgestone have bowed out of Formula 1 having supplied tyres to teams since 1997.

But their first appearance in the sport was over 20 years before that. They also supplied tyres in the first Japanese Grands Prix at Fuji in the 1970s.

While the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix is remembered mainly for the dramatic conclusion of the world championship, this was also the first F1 race featuring a car which used Bridgestone tyres.

Kazuyoshi Hoshino’s Tyrrell, entered by Heros Racing, was the sole Bridgestone runner at Fuji. The following year he and Noritake Takahara raced a pair of Kojimas at the same race, also on Bridgestones.

But the Japanese Grand Prix was dropped after that year and Bridgestone did not return to the sport until 1997. This time they weren’t just dipping a toe in the water: five teams arranged to use their tyres, though that number was cut to four when Lola disappeared after a single race.

Goodyear, who had enjoyed a monopoly on F1 tyre supply since Pirelli left in 1991, now found themselves back in competition with another tyre manufacturer.

Bridgestone enjoyed early success with the Prost team, Olivier Panis scoring their first podium in their second race at Interlagos. Later that year at the Hungaroring Damon Hill came within a lap of winning in his Bridgestone-shod Arrows.

That enticed McLaren to join the Bridgestone camp for 1998 and together they won both championships that year. Meanwhile the arrival of regulations requiring cars to use grooved tyres prompted Goodyear to leave.

In 1999 and 2000 Bridgestone were the only tyre supplier in F1. But in 2001 Michelin returned to the sport and the tyre war was reignited.

Top teams including Williams (2001) and McLaren (2002) were among the early defectors to the French tyre company. After being trounced by Bridgestone in 2002 Michelin hit back hard in 2003, only for a controversial late-season change in the rules which played into Bridgestone’s hands.

By 2004 the Bridgestone-Ferrari alliance had claimed six consecutive constructors’ titles and five consecutive drivers’ titles. But the number of other teams using Bridgestones shrunk to a small minority, as the tyre supplier increasingly focussed their efforts solely on the Scuderia.

Another rules tweak in 2005, this time banning tyre changes during races, turned the status quo on its head. Suddenly Michelins were the thing to have – except at Indianapolis.

A spate of tyre failures caused their teams to retire en masse before the start of the United States Grand Prix, resulting in a farcical race contested by just the three Bridgestone-shod teams.

Renault and Michelin broke Bridgestone’s stranglehold on championship success that year and repeated it in 2006 as tyre changes returned to the sport. But it was Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, running on Bridgestones, that won the final contest between the two at Interlagos, before Michelin quit.

Since then Bridgestone have been F1’s only tyre supplier. They have increasingly used the sport to promote the environmental credentials of their tyres, which is why since 2008 the ‘option’ tyres have been distinguished by green stripes.

But at the end of last year they announced 2010 would be their final season in Formula 1. A two-day test following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last month marked F1’s the final appearance of Bridgestone tyres and the end of an era as Pirelli arrived to take their place.

Here’s a look back on Bridgestone’s involvement in F1 since that tentative first run at Fuji in 1976:

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Images © Bridgestone Corporation, Red Bull/Getty images, Red Bull/GEPA, Daimler, Ferrari spa, Williams/Sutton, Williams/LAT, Ford.com, Brawn GP, Force India F1 Team, www.mclaren.com (see individual images for further details)

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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40 comments on “Picture gallery: Bridgestone in F1, 1976-2010”

  1. The 2002 Ferrari is still a solid looking car. Some Grand Prix cars look rather goofy as next generation machines put them into museums. Yet somehow this Ferrari today looks as menacing as it did so many years ago. Bordais ToroRosso with all of the apendages now seems almost unbelievabe, were there really racecars that looked that way?? Starting to seem like a long time ago…

    1. I miss those cars, they look alot better than modern monstrosities.

    2. Tom M in Australia
      17th December 2010, 11:34

      Agree, the 02 Ferrari was a work of art. I remember it was introduced late, Brazil GP that year I think, and James Allen was unreservedly gushing over it in commentary straight away. He called it right too, beautiful car, miles ahead of the competition.

    3. Craig Woollard
      18th December 2010, 2:26

      F2002, the greatest car ever?

  2. I love looking at old F1 pics. Definatly taking all of these, Cheers Keith!!

  3. I am a big fan of the way the old turbo cars from the eighties and also the early nineties racers used to look, however I must say that from the modern era I’d have to agree with you Ted Bell, the modern Ferraris, and McLarens as well in my opinion, are beautiful, with a few exceptions of course, I especially love the 2006 Ferrari from the start of the season and the 2007 McLaren

    1. Ha, I remember the ugly duckling that McLaren came out with in 1995. I agree now though, they really have made the mclarens a beautiful masterpiece

  4. Very nice gallery of changes in cars over the last 15 years – and those two pics of longer ago.

    I agree with Ted that those 2008 cars look rather cluttered now, especially at the front. A bit like something from a futuristic cartoon :)

  5. Bonus Points for naming the chassis used for the 1996 test car!

    1. I was just going to ask what that was. A 1995 Ligier Mugen-Honda? I only say that because it has a TWR logo on it…

    2. A Tyrell 020? (Honda-Mugen)

    3. I’ve just realised that 2 cars have been used, the first appears to be 1995 spec, the second is 1996 spec with the extremely high cockpit sides.

    4. Wikipedia names the car as a 1995 Ligier JS41:


      1. Awww, you can’t go to Wikipedia! Thats cheating!

        I’m gonna guess that the 1995 car does indeed look like the Ligier (I remember the very distinctive sidepods). Could the 1996 model possibly be the TWR Arrows? I remember that car being very… fat, for want of a better word.

        1. The static car is the TWR Arrows from 1996, while the shot of Verstappen driving is the Ligier – compare the nose shape with the 1997 Prost to see the family resemblance.

          The photo of Damon Hill in a garage also seems to be the Ligier.

          1. I was going to say the same thing. That Ligier/Prost seems to have an early 90’s nose doesn’t it? A little like the pre ’95 Benettons.

          2. When Benetton and Ligier rolled out their new cars for 1995 they bore a striking resemblance to one another.

            By complete coincidence, Ligier had recently been taken over by Flavio Briatore with Tom Walkinshaw installed as Director…

        2. Cheating maybe, but I just wanted to know the answer :)

          Plus, we all know that Wikipedia isn’t always 100% right.

  6. Should have included pictures of cars starting on the super soft tyres with a full load of fuel and pitting with them on the 60th lap. Good riddance Bridgestone.

    1. *Not that Pirelli are going to be any better, infact with them developing the same spec for GP2 it’ll probably be much worse

    2. That would be a pretty long picture, showing 60 laps of running! ;-o

  7. I don’t know all the reasons etc, but I always thought it odd that after McLaren gave Bridgestone their first title they then left as Bridgstone gave their near-exclusive backing to Ferrari. Michelin may have done wonders with development with Renault, but their tyres were good for all teams, not just one.

  8. The pic of Jos and bridgestone crew is 1996 and the car is the 1996 Arrows car,the pic of the car driving is actually 1997 with Aguri Suzuki behind the wheel of a Ligier JS41.

    1. agreed.
      Don’t know who it was, but not Jos. For reference, check his helmetdesign in the other pictures: red, white, blue, just like the dutch flag.

      However, still nice to see Jos Verstappen on F1F!

    2. Indeed it is Aguri Suzuki. He drove in 1995 in exchange for Mugen engines, at the expense of Martin Brundle. Shame.

    3. Thanks for that Schumivill have changed the caption.

  9. since 2008 the ‘option’ tyres have been distinguished by green stripes.

    2009 u mean

    1. There were green stripes on the tyres in the 2008 japanese GP.

      1. These green stripes didn’t distinguish option tyres, this was just a promotion for the FIA’s environmental campaign.

        At Fuji, the option tyres had three green stripes and one white stripe, with the primes having the four green stripes.

        1. I find Bridgestone using F1 to plug their green credentials just crazy!

          I’m surprised the advert doesn’t go something like this:
          Use 8 sets of Bridgestones every weekend and you will use so much rubber that all the CO2 created from your V8 is negated by the amount of trees we at Bridgestone plant to make your tyres!


          1. LOL, nice one Calum.

        2. Wonder if the Pirelli’s are going to have the green stripe too?

          1. They need something to distinguish them with but I found it hard to spot the green stripes in some lights and the extra green colouring on the Mercedes wheels made it confusing too.

            Why not have an ‘inverted’ sidewall for the options tyres – all white with black lettering?

          2. It seems to be up to the FIA to decide. Pirelli have already said they are open to different ideas, but it is up to Todt cs. to decide on that.

            I never liked the green stripes. Having the Pirelli writing on the sides in Yellow or Red depending on the compound or something like they have in IndyCars would be a lot better.

    2. The 2008 Japanese GP was the first time the green stripes were used.

  10. The aero rules have been pretty crazy over the last few years haven’t they? Look at pictures taken between 2006 and 2008. The front wing dips below the nose and the “biplane” wings on the McLaren and STR shots.

    Quite a shock to look at 2010’s wings after all that!

  11. Keith, I was wondering whether or not the new tyre strategies will be limited at all by the rule which states you will receive a 30-second penalty if you haven’t used both types of tyres when a race is red flagged?

    If the race is suspended and cannot be re-started, thirty seconds will be added to the elapsed time of any driver who was unable to use both specifications of dry-weather tyre during the race. However, any driver who completes the race without using both specifications of dry-weather tyre will be excluded from the race results.
    2011 FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations

    For example, lets assume the red flag drops after every driver has made one stop. Someone leading a race on a 2-stop Soft-Soft-Hard (or vice versa) strategy could find himself demoted down the field despite having made the same amount of stops as everyone else while the driver(s) close behind on a Soft-Hard-Soft strategy would be promoted. Is this really fair?

    1. It is rather clearly a rule that assumes there will normally be only one stop to change tyres per race. Good spotting, they clearly forgot to think out of the box on this rule.

      I would like to see someone (Ferrari, I hope, they have the best chance of prevailing!) get a penalty for a two stop strategy as you describe and then fight it on the basis of a reasoning similar to yours, to sort it out.

  12. On the subject of tyres, above is a picture of Sébastien Bourdais’ “cat scratch” grooved tyres at Fuji in 2008 to show support for the Make Cars Green initiative.

    Since 2009, the green stripe has been on the softer tyres to delineate them from the harder ones. Logically, wouldn’t the green stripe be more well suited to the more durable prime tyres? Maybe Pirelli will amend this anomaly.

    Finally, from the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix, look at the difference between the stripes for the hard and soft tyres.

    Rubens’ hard tyres = Green, Green, Green, Green
    Heidfeld’s soft tyres = Green, Green, White, Green

    This surely has to be the worst method of distinguishing between tyres that was ever used by Formula One. Imagine being in the crowd trying to figure that out!

    1. Guess that is why they changed it, yes :)

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