After extensive tyre testing at the Mugello and Silverstone circuits recently in Italy and the United Kingdom, Bridgestone Motorsport heads this week to the Chinese city of Shanghai for Round Sixteen of the FIA Formula One World Championship where title protagonists, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's Michael Schumacher and Renault's Fernando Alonso are set to go head-to-head. Formula One pays just one visit a year to the impressive Shanghai International Circuit and with tyre performance playing a crucial role in each team's overall performance package, the latest tests and the team's simulations will have been pivotal in deciding which tyre specifications to take to China this week. Every point counts and with just three rounds of the season remaining, Bridgestone shod Schumacher is just two points behind the drivers' championship leader. His teammate, Felipe Massa, lies in third place, just five points ahead of his nearest challengers. In the constructors' championship battle, Ferrari will be looking to extend the three point lead gained after their win at Monza while fellow Bridgestone runners, Panasonic Toyota Racing and WilliamsF1, are looking to climb up the points standings with some good finishes. The Super Aguri F1 team and recently acquired Spyker MF1 Racing team meanwhile will also be looking to impress as the season draws to a close.
Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport: "With just three rounds to go, we are now at a crucial point in the season. Ferrari is battling for the drivers' and constructors' championships while for our other four teams, every point gained is essential. Consequently, our staff have been working tirelessly and we are looking forward to the final stages of what has been an extremely exciting season. The city of Shanghai has always provided us with a very well run event with fantastic facilities so we are looking forward to providing the spectators with a great race."
Tyres for China
The 2006 tyre regulations permit each driver seven sets of dry weather tyres, four sets of wet weather tyres and three sets of extreme wet weather tyres. Approximately 1,200 Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tyres have been sent from the Technical Centre in Kodaira City, Tokyo, to the Shanghai International Circuit.
Hisao Suganuma Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "The Shanghai Circuit has a unique track layout in the shape of the Chinese character for Shang. Consequently, one corner is like a corkscrew and this can put the left front tyres under some strain. At the previous two grands prix in China we have seen quite high levels of graining on the front lefts so controlling the graining will be a key factor this weekend. On the whole, the track is a medium speed circuit with a relatively long straight and a fairly smooth surface – very similar to the surface in Turkey. Therefore, although we are looking for a strong compound to cope with the graining, Bridgestone's tyres for China will be using compounds from the softer end of the range in order to get a competitive edge. We recently completed several tyre programmes at Mugello [Italy] and Silverstone [UK] where the good weather enabled us to assess a number of different tyre specifications for the China and Japan Grands Prix. For the coming weekend, the Bridgestone teams will be using tyres from the current range which have not only shown good graining durability but also the high performance levels which the teams will need to be competitive."