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Portuguese weather a minor setback say Bridgestone 23 Jan 2009

Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 in the wet Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 22 January 2009 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 21 January 2009 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 with McLaren engineers. Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 22 January 2009 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 21 January 2009

With Formula One racing switching from grooved to slick tyres this season, this week’s multi-team test at the Algarve Motor Park should have provided suppliers Bridgestone with plenty of invaluable data. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas.

Five teams were present over the four days, but despite the Portimao location being famed for its hospitable climate, the bulk of the session was affected by wet and windy conditions. It meant most running was done on wet and extreme-wet rubber, with Bridgestone’s two slick compounds seeing precious little action.

"This was a difficult test because of the weather and we learnt that the Algarve does not always live up to its reputation of good conditions,” said Tetsuro Kobayashi, Bridgestone Motorsport’s technical manager. “The rain - and even hailstones - seriously hampered progress.”

The poor conditions only compounded the challenge of running on a newly-built circuit, with the oils coming out of the fresh tarmac making the track surface very slippery, even when the teams did have dry running.

“The track surface is very smooth, just as you would expect of a new facility,” said Kobayashi. “At this test the rain did not help with the grip levels, so in terms of gaining data for us to evaluate, we were at a disadvantage."

Despite Bridgestone’s frustration, Kobayashi was full of praise for the new Algarve facility and remains certain that the forthcoming pre-season tests would allow the Japanese company to successfully complete their development programme before March’s Australian Grand Prix.

"We are confident that there will be sufficient testing for teams before the season starts to enable good, safe, racing,” he said. “Of course, any test days lost means that teams have not been able to test their new cars and continue learning about our slick tyres. However, we will see several more tests before we visit Albert Park."

Bridgestone's Potenza Formula One tyres will next be in use at Jerez in Spain on February 10-13, where six teams are scheduled to test, and in Bahrain on the same dates, where three teams are due to run.