Bridgestone Motorsport, the Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship, has completed the first group test of the exciting new 2010 season after three days at the 4.05 km Circuit Comunitat de la Valenciana, in Spain.
This was the first opportunity for teams, drivers and observers to see in action the final specification of the new narrow front Potenza F1 tyre developed by Bridgestone for this season. With a tyre size of 245/55R13, the new front tyre when fitted to a rim is 20mm narrower than the 2009 specification and is designed to redress the balance of the cars after grooves were removed from the tyres ahead of the 2009 season.
Bridgestone will again have four dry tyre compounds (Hard, Medium, Soft and Super Soft) to cover the 19 race calendar, with two selected per race weekend. Two of these four compound designations of 2010 dry tyre: the Soft and Super Soft; were available for use by the teams in Valencia this week, as well as the current specification intermediate and wet weather tyres.
Seven teams attended the test, which took place between 1-3 February, with sunny conditions and moderate winds prevailing over the course of the three day test.
Bridgestone's Potenza Formula One tyres will next be seen in use in Jerez on February 10-13, where Bridgestone expects ten teams to be present, including Virgin Racing, the first of the four new F1 teams to break cover. This will be quickly followed by another four days of testing at Jerez from February 17-20, where Lotus Racing is also expected to join the group test. Along with the intermediate and wet weather tyres, the Medium will be the main dry compound available at both these Jerez tests, with teams also able to request the Hard and Soft compounds as additional options during both weeks.
Which specifications were brought to Valencia and why?
Tetsuro Kobayashi, Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport: We brought the Soft and Super Soft dry compound tyres to Valencia, along with our intermediate and wet weather specifications too. Valencia is a less severe track compared to some and although it has a slightly rough surface we are able to use our softer compounds here. One interesting factor at Valencia however is the front tyre graining caused by the lateral forces, which makes it a good track for us to evaluate the graining resistance of our front tyres. This is in contrast to the Jerez track, where teams will next test, which is much more severe, especially on the rear tyres. So we will be able to check our rear tyre performance more thoroughly next week.
First test of the year with no fewer than seven teams: what was learnt from this test?
First of all, we are pleased to have seen the good potential of the 2010 specifications, even though it's a little difficult to judge fully the true performance because of the special characteristics of the Valencia circuit. So far though, our tyre performance is in line with our expectations. We are expecting to learn more about rear tyre behaviour at the next consecutive Jerez tests where the rough tarmac and severe layout will provide a good testing opportunity for the Bridgestone rear tyres.
The next two tests will be at Jerez. Which specifications will be seen there?
The Medium compound will be supplied as the prime compound for both of the tests and the Hard and Soft compounds will be available during both week one and week two as option compounds."
Why has Bridgestone only now developed the narrow front?
The decision to change from grooved to slick tyres ahead of the 2009 season meant that the front tyres gained proportionately more contact surface area in comparison to the rear tyres. This in turn gave the fronts more grip than was ideally required. However, at the request of the teams, who had already designed their 2009 cars based on the previous sized fronts, we delayed the introduction of the narrow front until 2010.
How much more narrow is the new front and did the teams have to do anything in particular to accommodate it?
It is actually 20mm more narrow (including wheel width) than the 2009 specification (2010 front tyre size: 245/55 R13) and it enables the cars to be better balanced from front to rear. From the teams' perspectives, they should have taken these new fronts into consideration when designing their 2010 cars and they were asked in particular to consider designing the cars with more rear carrying load in order to get the best out of the tyres.