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Japan GP: Bridgestone Press Conference

NEWS STORY
27/09/2007

Aguri, your performance has been extraordinary this season. It's your second year and you've earned four points. How do you think you were able to achieve this?
Aguri Suzuki: Last year I was also invited to this press meeting. We were very busy and we came back to Japan in a very fussy situation, but we now have had one year of experience. Maybe it was like the winter test for other teams – it was the real races, but it was like a test. So we were able to make full preparations for this season. We were able to test and enter this season just like other teams, in the same way, as well prepared as the other teams. We were able to become a fully grown F1 team this year. Our staff, Takuma and everybody involved are looking in the same direction. It's a small team but we were able to gather our efforts in a concerted way for one goal. So when we were able to earn points in Canada and Spain, Takuma did excellently. The car's reliability has been enhanced, and there were no mistakes made by the team's staff. Everything went well leading up to us taking those results in Spain and Canada.

Takuma, do you have anything to add?
Takuma Sato: Last year, before the season opened, there were less than 100 days of preparation for the cars before they were raced. But the same staff that were there then are with us today, so the bond within the team has been enhanced and strengthened since then. We had a car, whose base was four and a half years old, and now we have a very modern state-of-the-art car, and from the very opening race, it was a very strong package that we had. In Barcelona and in Canada, as Aguri mentioned, there were various good conditions that emerged to give us results. Of course, the performance of the Bridgestone tyres has also maximised our performance. For me as a driver, I was given this environment to exert my full capabilities at the races. This is the second season for our team, but I think this is the best that we could ever have done.

This year, in accordance with the tyre regulations, there were two different specifications that needed to be used. As a driver, was this something that was difficult for you?
Takuma Sato: Well, until last year in the tyre tests we had to try different compounds and constructions of tyres so Bridgestone were fully prepared. Once we started the race, the tyre was already very well suited to that track. This year, we had to use four specifications throughout the season. So there was a wider range of tyres, in terms of specification. We had to adapt to these tyres. There was more work involved with tyres. Also, the same tyres have to be used on different tracks, so we had to adapt as drivers as well. That was a challenge. During the races two different specifications had to be used, so in terms of strategy, there was a lot of impact. Throughout the weekend the performance of the tyres improved as we drove on the tracks. We had to anticipate these results in the practices on Friday – that was another challenge. I think that the capability of the team also had to be exhibited more. I think that we were able to have very good races and we had very good performances, in spite of this challenge.

What do you think of the support structure of Bridgestone this season, now that they are an exclusive supplier?
Aguri Suzuki: Mr Hamashima supported us very well and gave us some good advice. The quality of the tyres is very good. As Takuma mentioned, the situation last year was quite different because the tyres were adapted to the team or the circuit. But now all the teams have to use the same tyres, and have to use two specifications of tyre. The conditions of the circuits change every time, so we really had to anticipate what would happen with the grip, for example, during the Grand Prix. So there were some challenges.

So it was more difficult for you then?
Aguri Suzuki: Yes, for tyres it was very difficult. But the tyre itself is very stable and reliable, so we're very grateful.

Mr Hamashima, from an engineer's perspective, you have four types of tyre. What were the considerations that you had to give to the teams?
Hirohide Hamashima: In terms of supply there are four types of tyre, and we had to choose two. The layout of the circuit and the road surface were considered when choosing the two specifications. And there were simulations that had to be done. So we were quite responsible, as suppliers of tyres. Also, because all the teams are using our tyres, we have to provide a stable supply of tyres. We use maritime transport and because we have to transport under the equator we use low temperature containers for our tyres, like those used for wine, so the quality will be stable. So we had to give due consideration for these different aspects.

You used to transport the tyres by air freight?
Hirohide Hamashima: Until last year after testing we made the tyres and we air freighted them, but this year they were shipped via surface [sea freight].

This year the Japanese GP will be at Fuji. How do you feel about coming back to Japan every year?
Takuma Sato: It's a renewed Fuji Speedway, so nobody has ever been there. The cars have just gone through simulations. So there are many opportunities. As for me, it is a Grand Prix in my home country. Regardless of which circuit, it is taking place in Japan, so I'm very excited. I'd like to really show what we can do in Japan.

And Aguri?
Aguri Suzuki: When I was a driver, coming back to Japan was something special. I was very happy to be able to be back in Japan. Of course, there was tremendous pressure, because I was coming to my home country, but the pressure means there are many people who are supporting me, so I'm very happy to be coming back. I also have to mute the expectations, but I feel very much welcome at home.

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