Bridgestone Motorsport, the Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship, has completed its first group test of 2009 at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimao, Portugal, where two compounds of 2009 specification slick tyres were used as well as current specification wet and extreme wet tyres.
Five teams were present over four days of testing between 19-22 January. Despite the Algarve location of the circuit being famed for its good weather, the test was affected by wet and windy weather, with even hailstones falling on the track during the course of the four days. Whilst Bridgestone's soft and super soft compound slick tyres were available for use, teams predominantly made use of the wet and extreme wet tyres.
Adding to the difficulty of the wet weather, the ambient temperature was also much cooler than is expected to be experienced at races this season, with meaningful data being hard to obtain. The circuit is relatively new, meaning that the surface was very slippery from the new surface itself as well as the rainfall.
Bridgestone's Potenza Formula One tyres will next been seen in use in Jerez on February 10-13, where six teams are scheduled to test, and in Bahrain on the same dates, where three teams are scheduled to test.
Q&A with Tetsuro Kobayashi - Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport:
What was learnt from this test? "This was a difficult test because of the weather and we learnt that the Algarve does not always live
up to its reputation of good conditions. The rain, and even hailstones, seriously hampered progress during the week. The conditions compounded the difficulty of running on a new track surface as the oils come out from the tarmac, making the surface very slippery, even when we did have dry running."
With limited testing in 2009, how does this affect developments ahead of the season start?
"For Bridgestone we are confident that there will be sufficient testing for teams before the season starts to enable good, safe, racing. Of course, any test days lost means that teams have not been able to test their new cars and continue learning about our slick tyres, however we will see several more tests before we visit Albert Park in Australia for the first race of the season."
What are your thoughts of the Portimao track?
"The Portimao track is certainly an impressive facility and a challenging circuit to learn for teams and drivers. The track surface is very smooth, just as you would expect of a new facility. At this test the rain did not help with the grip levels, so in terms of gaining data for us to evaluate, we were at a disadvantage."