Positive test for new Bridgestones 01 Dec 2006
Bridgestone commenced their winter test programme this week at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain, with ten of the 11 teams - all of whom will compete on the Japanese companys tyres next year - running for three days. It was their first opportunity to get to grips with the new specification chosen for testing by Bridgestone in their role as sole tyre supplier to the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Bridgestones choice of tyres is aimed at providing a level and fair playing ground to all teams competing in Formula One racing. The tyres have a wider operating window than the 2006 specifications - thus enabling all the teams to access the optimum performance window - and the compound range of the tyres is generally harder than those used this season. Hisao Suganuma, Bridgestone Motorsports technical manager, discusses the effects of the changes...
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: Do you think Ferrari will have an advantage due to their knowledge of Bridgestone?
HS: I dont 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.
Q: 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.
Q: What is the challenge for Bridgestone now?
HS: Victory for us now is for all 11 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.
Bridgestone will conduct two further three-day tests in 2006 at the Spanish circuit of Jerez. The official start dates for these are Wednesday 6 and Wednesday 13 December.