Bridgestone Moves GP2 Tire Production to Europe
Bridgestone Corporation, the sole supplier of tires for both the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and the GP2 Series, has decided to base GP2 Series tire production and quality control at its Technical Centre Europe (TCE), on the edge of Rome. The output will be warehoused at the Bridgestone Motorsport facility in Langley, UK. The GP2 Series is now widely acknowledged as the final step prior to a seat in Formula One.
Until now, all GP2 race tire development and production has been centered in Tokyo. Although, for the time being, design and development will continue to be carried out in Japan, the rationale for the new arrangement is twofold. Firstly, the addition of a second manufacturing site provides a safeguard against the risk of supply bottlenecks in this highly demanding environment. Secondly, GP2 race tires supplied from Europe for European races will have incurred lower transport mileage costs and will have a lower environmental impact.
“We are proud that Bridgestone senior management has shown this confidence in our operation,” says TCE Managing Director Franco Annunziato. “Our engineers share a passion for motorsport. They are strongly motivated by the opportunity to play a key role in this high-profile competition. As an added benefit, the experience will help them in translating the latest technologies into high-performance road tires for the everyday motorist.”
“In fact,” Annunziato continues, “this task is well within our capabilities. We shall need to update some of the tire production machines and invest in additional final inspection equipment but beyond that, I am confident our existing team and facilities will cope extremely competently with this new responsibility.”
Actual production at the Centre will begin in September 2007, but initial track testing of a limited number of tires produced already at the Rome Technical Centre facility is scheduled for the week of 16 July at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.
The GP2 Series employs three specifications for dry tires – soft, medium and hard – plus a further wet specification. With 13 teams taking part in each event, pre-race qualifying and two races per weekend (Monaco aside), the total requirement for a typical race week-end is around 650 tires.