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Bridgestone responds to Shanghai tyre concerns 17 Apr 2009

(L to R): Aldo Costa (ITA) Ferrari Technical Director talks with Hirohide Hamashima (JPN) Head of Bridgestone Tyre Development.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 3 April 2009 Soft Bridgestone tyres in the paddock.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 16 April 2009 Bridgestone engineers work with tyres from the Renault team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009

With Renault’s Fernando Alonso and Brawn’s Rubens Barrichello amongst the drivers questioning Bridgestone’s decision to bring their medium and super-soft compounds to the Shanghai circuit, the Japanese tyre company have revealed the reasoning behind their choice of rubber for the Chinese Grand Prix.

The same selection was used at March’s Australian race, but many teams struggled with graining on the super-softs around Albert Park. As the surface of China’s Shanghai International Circuit is believed to be rougher than the Melbourne track, concerns have been raised that the issues will only worsen this weekend. Bridgestone, however, stand by their decision.

"We decide the allocations for the races based on many factors including past experience, test information and feedback from the teams,” explained Bridgestone’s director of motorsport tyre development, Hirohide Hamashima. “All teams have a dedicated Bridgestone engineer who works with the drivers and team engineers so we have constant information regarding any tyre issues.

“The teams are made aware of our allocations for races many weeks in advance, so there is plenty of time for feedback. For 2009 we are making a bigger difference between the two compounds and this is in response to requests for this from the FIA and the teams. This gives more of a challenge for the races, and of course any change brings many opinions.

“Here we have the medium tyre, which should be a strong race tyre, and the super soft, which will require good tyre management in terms of car set-up and driving style. Of course, we saw different approaches to using the super soft tyre in Australia, with some approaches working much better than others, so it will be interesting to see competitors rise to the challenge here in Shanghai."

Following Friday’s two practice sessions, several drivers continued to grumble about the softer option, with BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica describing the tyres as ‘fragile’ and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel joking that he’s glad his helmet ‘protects his eyes’ as the rubber flies off. Others, however, were pleased with their progress and Hamashima is confident that as the track gets more use and the teams adjust their set-ups, the graining problem will be largely resolved.

"Today the circuit surface delivered very little grip initially in the first practice, but this improved and the track was better in the afternoon,” he added. “As we would expect on a Friday, we saw graining, but the amount of graining varied across the teams. Of particular note, the tyre appearance of the Brawn and Toyota cars was very beautiful and even, meaning they appear to be using their tyres well, but some other teams are still finding the best set-ups. In the second session we saw both tyres used and the performance of the super soft in terms of degradation was not as bad as in Australia."

The field will be back in action on Saturday morning as they take to the track for the final practice session, before qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese race gets underway in the afternoon.