Australian GP: Bridgestone preview

Bridgestone Motorsport begins its tenure as Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship with the first round of the 2008 season, the ING Australian Grand Prix, held at Melbourne's Albert Park. 2008 will be the second ...

Bridgestone Motorsport begins its tenure as Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship with the first round of the 2008 season, the ING Australian Grand Prix, held at Melbourne's Albert Park.

2008 will be the second consecutive year that Bridgestone has supplied the entire grid in Formula One. Only minor evolutionary changes to this year's tyres have been made from the tyres used last season, meaning continuity for the teams and drivers. This continuity places the responsibility on the teams to extract the maximum from the Bridgestone Potenza tyres at their disposal.

Bridgestone's medium and soft compounds will be used next weekend at a circuit where compound choice is difficult to make due to the vastly different weather that can be experienced, and the changing levels of grip on a track which is only used once a year.

Albert Park is a temporary street course in the picturesque setting of Melbourne's 555 acre Albert Park Reserve. The track features 16 turns over its 5.30 km and is a compromise circuit in its layout. Teams have to temper their desires for low downforce down the straights, with higher downforce requirements through the turns. High lateral forces are generated through several corners meaning high levels of energy and heat are dispersed through the tyres.

As the facility is only used once a year as a race circuit, drivers will face a 'green' circuit on Friday with low levels of grip. This makes tyre graining a strong possibility, especially on the softer compound, which once again will be designated by a painted white groove. The track surface should improve over the weekend as the circuit cleans and rubber is laid down, meaning a dramatic improvement in lap times could be seen, and there will be a diminishing likelihood of graining occurring.

Tempering any potential track improvements is the notoriously fickle weather, meaning that Bridgestone's wet or extreme wet Potenza tyres could well be used at some point over the course of the race weekend. In a new development for 2008, Bridgestone will be marking its extreme wet weather tyres with a white line down the centre groove in order to assist spectators and media by making it visibly distinguishable from the wet weather tyre.

The Australian Grand Prix was the venue of the first F1 race victory achieved using Bridgestone Potenza tyres when McLaren Mercedes driver Mika Hakkinen won the event in 1998. This will be Bridgestone's twelfth Australian Grand Prix and Bridgestone tyres have been on the winning car seven races in this time, more than any other tyre manufacturer.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport says:

"This will be our second year supplying all of the teams in Formula One and our first as Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship. We are very proud to have good relationships with all of the teams in Formula One and we work hard to maintain our fairness in supply to these teams. Safety is a primary concern for Bridgestone and we hope for a safe season of racing. Formula One is seen all over the world and Bridgestone's brand exposure becomes greater every year through our association. We have the excitement of two new races this season, in Valencia and Singapore, and these bring new challenges. Everything starts in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix and I am looking forward to an exciting race."

Hirohide Hamashima, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development says:

"Albert Park is only used once a year and it is hosting the first grand prix of the season so teams and drivers will face many challenges. Although we think of Albert Park as a street course, it is actually quite a high speed circuit and severe on tyres. The grip level from the circuit will change over the course of the weekend and teams and drivers will have to constantly adapt. Early in the weekend we expect to see graining on the dirty track, but this should decrease as the circuit improves. We will use the middle two compounds in our range; medium and soft; as they provide the best option for this circuit. Most teams have new cars so they have the additional challenge of finding the best setups to maximise performance from our tyres on cars they are still learning about. For drivers the lack of traction control will make a difference. Albert Park does feature heavy braking so we could see some drivers lock their tyres as they adapt to the new systems, especially when there are low grip levels from the track."

-credit: bridgestone

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Mercedes , McLaren