MAGNY-COURS, France (AP) _ Japanese tire-maker Bridgestone said on Saturday that it plans to continue supplying tires to Formula One indefinitely.
``Our Formula One involvement is extremely valuable and important to our company's global goal,'' Bridgestone CEO Shigeo Watanabe said in a statement released at the French Grand Prix. ``Bridgestone will continue its involvement in Formula One for as long as possible.''
``Michael Schumacher is leading the championship for Bridgestone and the other two top three drivers are also on our tires,'' Watanabe said, referring to McLaren-Mercedes' David Coulthard, in second place, and Schumacher's Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello.
Bridgestone has won three world championships since entering F1 in 1997. It became the sole supplier in 1999 when Goodyear dropped out of the series, but has had to contend with Michelin this season. The French tire-maker, which supplies four of the 11 teams, is taking part in its first F1 season in 17 years.
Thanks to Ralf Schumacher's two wins this season for BMW-Williams, Michelin has dented Bridgestone's supremacy with surprising speed.