Barcelona Test Round-Up - Bridgestone


Bridgestone Motorsport commenced its winter test programme this week at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain, with each of the ten teams running for three days. This week's test is the first opportunity for the teams to get to grips with the new specification tyres chosen for testing ahead of Bridgestone being sole tyre supplier for the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship season.

Bridgestone's choice of tyres is aimed at providing a level and fair playing ground to all teams competing in Formula One. The tyres have a wider operating window than the 2006 specifications – thus enabling all the teams to access the optimum performance window. The compound range of the tyres is generally harder than those used in 2006.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport commented: “We are delighted with the successful start to this new era of Formula One in which Bridgestone is now supplying its Potenza Formula One tyres to all teams competing in the championship. The first test has progressed well this week with the teams learning how to run the same specification of tyre. I would like to thank the Testing Committee for their efforts which have enabled this smooth transition period and the FIA [Federation Internationale de L'Automobile] for their support and advice.”

As agreed by the Testing Committee two further three day tests will be conducted in 2006 at the Spanish circuit of Jerez. The official start dates for the tests are Wednesday 6 and Wednesday 13 December.

Q&A with Hisao Suganuma, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager:

What are your first impressions from winter testing?
Hisao Suganuma: They are positive. Our priorities have now changed from winning races to providing safe, fair and durable tyres to the whole F1 grid. Following initial feedback and analysis, it looks like we have produced a good one-make tyre with consistent performance. It probably would not win any races in a competitive tyre supply situation but that situation is now behind us.

What are the characteristics of the tyre you have in Barcelona?
HS: Barcelona is a high speed circuit and one of the most severe on tyres. We have therefore brought our 'hard' dry specification tyre for all the teams in attendance. This is a new construction and compound, so it is new for everyone. The focus is on durability and consistency and therefore the general grip has been reduced. However, these conditions are the same for everyone. The challenge is now for the engineers and drivers to get the most out of the tyres through car set up. On the whole, the tyre has exceeded our objectives for a single make situation.

What has it been like working with the new teams?
HS: Enjoyable. We have worked with a lot of the teams and personnel before so they are not strangers to us. They have been quick to adjust to the tyres and over the winter they will have the opportunity to fine tune for optimum performance.

Do you think Ferrari will have an advantage due to their knowledge of Bridgestone?
HS: I don't think so. Our 2007 specification of tyres are as new to Ferrari as they are to the other ten teams. They have had to adjust their set up like everyone else. The only small advantage they have is in the personal relationships, which is natural. Although having said that, McLaren won championship titles on our tyres and we have experience working with most of the drivers and engineers on the grid.

How many different specs of tyres will you test over the winter?
HS: We plan to make four different specs of tyre available for the 2007 season ranging from 'Soft' to 'Hard'. For example, we would plan to run the softest spec in Monaco and Hungary. At each race, in conjunction with the teams, we will choose the two most appropriate specs. The step change between each spec will be similar to the difference between specs in 2006. During the winter we will evaluate the tyres with the teams and see if our plan is correct. So far our estimations seem to be working well. If we need to develop the tyres further or introduce counter measures we are able to do that.

What is the challenge for Bridgestone now?
HS: 'Victory' for us now is for all eleven teams to be satisfied at the end of the season that Bridgestone has supplied safe, durable and 'user-friendly' tyres and that we have been fair to all. That is our target and motivation.

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Published: 30/11/2006
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