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WILL HEAT AND DUST CONFRONT BRIDGESTONE IN BRAZIL? There could hardly be a greater contrast in circuit conditions than the smoothness of the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne and bumps of Interlagos in Sao Paulo, where the Brazilian Grand Prix...

WILL HEAT AND DUST CONFRONT BRIDGESTONE IN BRAZIL?

There could hardly be a greater contrast in circuit conditions than the smoothness of the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne and bumps of Interlagos in Sao Paulo, where the Brazilian Grand Prix will be contested on April 11. Yet the Bridgestone tyres to be used in Brazil, which will have to cope with the notoriously dusty conditions in Sao Paulo, will be to exactly the same specification as those used in Australia.

This year Bridgestone has settled on four different grades of dry-weather tyres to cope with the anticipated requirements of each circuit. These four different specifications are Hard, Medium, Soft and Extra Soft. With the FIA regulations permitting only two types of dry-weather tyre at any one race, the selection of the two most suitable specifications has to be made before the teams leave for each race, using data acquired during testing under similar conditions in Europe.

Throughout the past four weeks, the evaluation process for this second round of the FIA world championships has taken the F1 teams to Barcelona, Fiorano, Jerez, Magny-Cours, Mugello and Silverstone. None of these circuits can be directly compared with Interlagos, although some of them possess characteristics - heat, dustiness and bumpiness, for example - which have proved informative. Perhaps surprisingly, the tests indicate that the most suitable tyres for Interlagos will be the same Soft and Medium compounds used in Australia.

"While Albert Park had longish straights and comparatively slow corners, Interlagos is shorter (4.292 kms against 5.302 kms) and has faster corners," says Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport. While preparing the same specification for the Brazilian Grand Prix as for the Australian Grand Prix, we have to consider the circuit differences.

"The biggest difference will be in the degradation of grip, which was not as serious a problem in Australia as we expect it to be in Brazil," said Ichikawa. "For this reason we think the drivers will find that there is a bigger difference between the Soft and Medium tyres in terms of degradation. This means that the teams will have to keep in mind the degradation of tyre grip when making their strategy for the race."

The Brazilian Grand Prix has seen some extremely high temperatures in the past, and it may well be hot for this year's race. But the semitropical climate could also mean torrential rain at some stage of the weekend. To provide for this possibility, the Bridgestone rain tyres will be provided in two different compounds using identical deep-tread patterns.

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Series Formula 1