Who will take over from Bridgestone in 2011?

November 2, 2009

P1020212

So who will supply F1 tyres from 2011?

The news today that Bridgestone will withdraw from F1 at the end of 2010 cannot be a total surprise, but it is a situation that raises some interesting challenges for the FIA and Formula One Group (FOG). When Michelin withdrew from F1 at the end of 2006 and Bridgestone became the single tyre supplier, tyres became a basic commodity rather than a source of competitive advantage. No longer would commentators talk about Bridgestone vs Michelin and the superior performance of one over the other in the wet. At that point it became a costly PR exercise rather than a core marketing strategy for Bridgestone. OK they would always be on the podium, but no-one wanted to talk about tyre companies winning (or losing) races.

So who could replace them? The big five global players in tyre manufacture are Bridgestone, Michelin (who between them control around 40% of the market), Continental, Pirelli and Goodyear, it could be one of these, but there are also a number of players in emerging markets, such as MRF who are market leader in India and Kumho and Hankook from South Korea. Hankook are an interesting example who have recently been involved in endurance racing and sponsored a team for the Le Mans 24 hours race. With new Grand Prix planned in India and South Korea it will be interesting to see who steps in to replace Bridgestone.

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