Bridgestone Motorsport's Technical Manager Hisao Suganuma has declared himself satisfied following the completion of Bridgestone and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's first winter test which took place this week (Nov 23-26) at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain, alongside seven other Formula One teams.
Tyre regulations for the 2005 season will be considerably different to those of 2004, giving Bridgestone's engineers a welcome challenge this winter. In 2005, drivers will have to use the same set of tyres for qualifying and the entire race which means the tyres need to be capable of running safely and competitively for approximately 350km, more than three times the distance previously required.
Commented Hisao Suganuma: "The development of longer lasting competitive tyres is a step-by-step process and our first priority is the safety of the drivers. This week we commenced the initial phase of the 2005 development programme which included preliminary testing of several new types of tyre constructions and compounds."
"We completed a number of long runs but did not plan to do a full race distance at this first test. From these early runs we have, however, been able to estimate the life of the specifications tested and they will now be sent to Japan for further analysis."
Like the 2003/2004 winter test period, Bridgestone has again opted for a set test programme in order not to be distracted from the job in hand. Suganuma is keen to point out that "we shall not be reacting from test to test prior to Christmas. We see these three tests as one joint test, the results of which will define the next development stage."
He continued: "Once we have accumulated and processed the results from the next two tests in Jerez, we shall begin to narrow down the choice of tyre candidates and our next phase of development will commence in January, when we may also start to do full race distance runs."
"Overall I am very happy with the work that has been done this week," concluded Suganuma. "Ferrari has provided us, as always, with the necessary opportunities to get the data we need and we estimate that the new development tyres on a modified aerodynamic set-up are approximately two seconds per lap slower, which is what we expected."
"Due to the reduced downforce, the cars tend to slide more and we have therefore been able to see similar conditions to those we can expect next year. All in all, a productive start to our new challenge!"
Minardi Cosworth has been testing this week at the Italian circuit of Misano. A number of young and up- and-coming drivers have been put through their paces, while also learning how to drive on Bridgestone's grooved Potenza Formula One tyres.
Coming up soon...
Bridgestone's engineers now move to the Spanish circuit of Jerez where the test programme will continue next week (1-4 December). Ferrari will be joined by the Jordan Grand Prix team.