Bridgestone satisfied with Japanese weekend

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Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) has won the Japanese Grand Prix using Bridgestone’s extreme wet tyres after a race which started behind the safety car and saw persistent rain and fog at the Fuji Speedway.

Hamilton made one pit stop during his race, changing one set of extreme wet tyres for another, and was joined on the podium by Heikki Kovalainen (Renault) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari).

The weather conditions meant that Bridgestone’s extreme wet Potenza Formula One tyre was the appropriate tyre in this race, a view confirmed by the stewards of the meeting. The two Ferraris, however, started on the Bridgestone wet tyre but pitted to change to the extreme wet whilst the safety car was still circulating at the beginning of the race. Despite this, Raikkonen worked through the field to take the final podium position.

It was a race of two safety car periods, the first at the start which lasted until lap 19. A spin from championship contender Fernando Alonso caused the second one when he span off the track. Despite Alonso’s non-score today, he is still in second place in the drivers’ championship, 12 points behind Hamilton.

Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tyres will next be in race action at the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai on October 5-7 where Bridgestone’s hard and medium compound Potenza F1 tyres will be used.

Shoshi Arakawa, Bridgestone Corporation, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, said: “Congratulations to Mr Hamilton for his victory here at Fuji Speedway. Unfortunately for the fans we had rain today, however our extreme wet tyres provided high performance in the difficult conditions and this helped provide an exciting race. We have seen two wet races so far in 2007 and both times our wet tyres have done a good job. Bridgestone are proud to support all of the Formula One teams and drivers with our full efforts.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said: “Track conditions were difficult today but our extreme wet tyres worked very well. The appearance and grip level of our tyres was very good for all of the drivers, including the one in the safety car. We are happy that the race was started, and with all of the drivers, unlike here in 1976 when weather conditions were similar, and not all the drivers started. Initially, the rain was not too hard, but the standing water meant that visibility was very poor and the race started behind the safety car. We saw some very interesting strategies because of the long safety car period at the start. Drivers had to concentrate very hard once racing was underway. I am disappointed for Red Bull and Toro Rosso as they could have been on the podium had they not had their incident.”