Japanese GP Bridgestone Race Report

Suzuka, November/ 01/ 1998 1998 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - RACE Congratulations to Bridgestone! Two titles after only two years of F1! With a cool demonstration of the skills that have served him so well throughout a hard ...

Suzuka, November/ 01/ 1998


Congratulations to Bridgestone! Two titles after only two years of F1!

With a cool demonstration of the skills that have served him so well throughout a hard season of racing, Mika Hakkinen led the Japanese Grand Prix from start to finish, making sure of the 1998 FIA world drivers' championship for himself and the constructors' title for West McLaren Mercedes. After stalling his Ferrari's engine and starting from the back of the grid, Michael Schumacher - Hakkinen's only remaining rival for the championship -- saw his own hopes shattered when he was forced to pull off the track by a tyre failure.

Yoichiro Kaizaki, President, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Bridgestone Corporation: "We are proud and gratified that Bridgestone tyres have carried both a driver and a constructor to world championships in only our second year of F1 competition. We are doubly happy to see both titles decided at a track on Japanese home soil. This is an event of tremendous and lasting importance in the history of our company. On behalf of the 90.000 Bridgestone employees worldwide, I express profound appreciation to all the members of the West McLaren Mercedes team, in particular to our drivers, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. I also express our gratitude to all the fans who have so loyally supported us here at Suzuka and throughout the season. We are well aware that expectations of Bridgestone tyres will escalate next season within Grand Prix racing. The task of coping with changes in the regulations and maintaining our commitment to development presents us with yet another challenge. I can assure we will be tackling that venture with gusto. Today, however, we are content to relish these hard-won championships."

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "When we decided to enter F1, our first target was to increase brand awareness and expand sales on the worldwide market. Nevertheless, after our first year of competition we realized that we had the potential to be more competitive. We knew this would require a partnership on a higher level which would allow us to conquer the same target of taking a world championship. Right from the beginning of this project, the aims began to gel. Our challenge grew gradually, with the positive results that we have all seen. Today's successes are the richly reserved reward for the sacrifices, especially the lack of sleep, which our staff were prepared to accept as they sought the solutions which contribute to race-winning performance. Determination and the will to win have been the two essential factors provided by our own people and those with whom they have worked. My greatest satisfaction today has been to see our Bridgestone supporters and employees celebrating the realization of this thrilling project."

Hirohide Hamashima, Technical Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "Our development programme for Grand Prix racing started in 1989 - without official permission, I have to say! - and today we were able to gather the fruit of so much work. The beginnings of success came in 1996, when we started to test our products, with Arrows, on a true F1 car. After a promising start in competition with Goodyear last season, this year we formed the partnerships which have finally led to our taking the championship. I wish to record the fact that we have never had anything but respect for the activities of Goodyear, whose support for the sport extends over so many years, and we recognise that without their participation, Formula 1 might not have been able to continue. We are conscious of the duties that will fall on us now that we are destined to take over Goodyear's position, and we intend to put our efforts into the development and promotion of Formula 1 as the leading category in motorsport. I also thank our staff for their hard work and cooperation."

Ron Dennis, Manager Director, West McLaren Mercedes: "We got everything we needed from our Bridgestone tyres today, which enabled us to control the pace of the race. I am delighted to have achieved, with Bridgestone, the high goals that were set for us all this year. Apart from being so pleasing for them, it has been very important for me, too."

The FIA-Bridgestone tyre evaluation programme will begin here at Suzuka on Tuesday morning (November 3) with the currently contracted Bridgestone F1 teams. Once official release forms have been received from the remaining teams, Bridgestone looks forward to starting work with those teams.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren