With global economic pressures mounting, Bridgestone has formally announced today that it is pulling out of Formula One after the close of the 2010 season. Why? More after the jump.
Bridgestone has said that it is pulling out so that it can pursue other avenues of technology. Further reports from the company state that they spent up to $100 million (USD) on Formula One-related costs per year of their involvement in the sport.
Now the question remains: who will step in to replace them? They’ve been the only game in the F1 paddock since 2007. Will Michelin suddenly decide to come back? Avon? Or maybe, with the inaugural Seoul Grand Prix scheduled to take place in October of 2010, a Korean tire manufacturer will seek to improve their presence on the world stage, such as Hankook? It’s all speculation at this point, but the ultimate outcome will surely be worth watching.
In other post-season news, Auto, Motor und Sport is reporting that Red Bull Racing has officially decided to stick with Renault powerplants for 2010. However, RBR itself is insisting that no decision has formally been made, although Cosworth engines are apparently completely out of the question. Understandably, McLaren has no great desire to see Mercedes supplying engines to Red Bull—unless, of course, it’s part of a bigger ploy to trick Red Bull Racing into only thinking Mercedes will detune customer engines for 2010.
Yesterday’s Abu Dhabi GP was some of the most exciting racing in months. Mainly because Button actually drove hard, instead of jostling for points positions. Vettel took the checkered flag after Hamilton’s McLaren car experienced brake troubles and was forced to retire early. It was Vettel’s 4th win of the year and it vaulted over Brawn’s Barichello for 2nd place in the Drivers Championship behind World Champion Jensen Button.
Finally, rampant speculation up and down the paddock and in the F1 press was confirmed when AT&T Williams F1 formally announced that Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg would form its driver lineup for 2010. Let’s hope the new Nico fares somewhat better than the previous Nico did.