Australian GP: Bridgestone preview

Bridgestone throws down the gauntlet After months of extensive testing, the Bridgestone Motorsport team heads for the first round of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship in determined mood this weekend. Bridgestone has been working harder...

Bridgestone throws down the gauntlet

After months of extensive testing, the Bridgestone Motorsport team heads for the first round of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship in determined mood this weekend. Bridgestone has been working harder than ever to stay one step ahead of its rival and is confident that Bridgestone's Potenza tyres will be at the forefront of the field at the first showdown of the F1 season next weekend in Melbourne, Australia (March 7-9).

In excess of 5,000 Formula One tyres of varying specifications have hit the winter test circuits over the past few months, with each of the Bridgestone supplied teams - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Sauber Petronas, Jordan Ford, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda and the Minardi Formula One team - undertaking tyre development programmes. With no less than five consecutive Constructors' and Drivers' titles taken on Bridgestone tyres since the Japanese manufacturer first entered the championship in 1997, the world's largest producer of tyres and other rubber products is gunning for another year of success.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport:

"Melbourne is a great round with which to start the new season and we are feeling confident of our chances there. We finished the 2002 season on a high note with a 70thGrand Prix win on Bridgestone tyres at our 100th race in the championship and are determined to carry on from where we left off - with another win. There have been many changes over the winter period and the Bridgestone team both in the UK and in Japan has been working relentlessly to embrace these changes in order to continue providing our teams with race winning tyres. We expect strong competition this year but Bridgestone will be pulling out all the stops to stay one step ahead of our rival. All that remains is to wish all our teams the best of luck in 2003. Let the competition begin!"

The 2003 Tyres
Bridgestone Motorsport will be flying approximately 1,100 race tyres directly to Australia from its F1 tyre production facility in Tokyo. As a result of the new rules, the focus in development of the new specifications has been to match the correct tyre specifications to each of the Bridgestone supplied teams and their cars. 2003 also sees the introduction of a new wet weather tyre rule permitting the use of only one wet specification by all Bridgestone teams.

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager:

"Due to the new regulations this year, we have been working hard to match our tyres to the different characteristics of each of our teams' cars and a variety of constructions and compounds will be used by our teams next weekend. The new rule on wet tyres has also been a challenge this year but we have done our best to produce a competitive tyre."

The Track
Since 1996, the Australian Grand Prix has taken place on the public roads of Albert Park, one of Melbourne's many city parks. The track surface is very smooth making understeer a particular issue.

Hisao Suganuma explains: "The Melbourne race circuit is particularly smooth and requires use of a soft compound to maintain grip levels. The track's characteristics also mean that graining on the front tyres can occur so we have needed to produce a soft but strong compound. However, we have made considerable advances in our compounds over the winter period and I am satisfied that our compounds will bear up to the tough conditions. This is especially important now that drivers have to qualify and start the race on the same set of tyres."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Minardi , Jordan