Minardi to launch complaint against Bridgestone

VALENCIA (Spain): Minardi team principal Paul Stoddart will launch a complaint with Formula One’s governing body against tyre suppliers Bridgestone for “breach of its obligations”, he said on Thursday. 

Stoddart was left fuming after Minardi were forced to use Formula 3000 tyres in testing for the second day running after the Formula One team failed to finalise a deal with Bridgestone, Japan’s largest tyremaker. 

“It is with great regret that yet again Minardi is forced to deal with the fact Bridgestone has chosen not to supply the team with tyres in Valencia today,” Stoddart said in a statement. 

“We are left with no choice but to make an official complaint to the FIA (International Automobile Federation) as we believe Bridgestone is in clear breach of its obligations under the FIA F1 2003 Sporting Regulations. 

“After three-and-a-half months of trying to negotiate an agreement, I think the situation can be best summed up by the fact that not once during this time, despite repeated attempts, have I been able either to arrange a meeting or even speak to Bridgestone director of motorsport, Hiroshi Yasukawa. 

“I simply cannot believe that a company of Bridgestone’s standing could treat any customer in this way.” 

Minardi used Michelin tyres last season, but the deal with the French manufacturer finished at the end of 2002 and they expected Minardi to switch to their Japanese rivals, the only other recognised supplier in the sport. 

Minardi, the smallest and poorest team on the grid, have been talking to world champion Ferrari’s suppliers Bridgestone since October. 

Bridgestone, who currently supply only four of the 10 teams, are bound to supply Minardi but the team also have to pay for the tyres. 

Minardi’s Dutch driver Jos Verstappen returned to the F1 arena for the first time this year on Thursday but, like team mate Justin Wilson on Wednesday, had to make do with the slick Avon tyres for his team’s opening test of the 2003 season at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo. 

Stoddart added: “Because of Bridgestone’s total lack of communication and cooperation over this matter, we have wasted two valuable days of pre-season testing here in Valencia – something that in the current climate, Minardi could ill afford to do. – Reuters 

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