Guests: Malcolm Oastler, Technical Director, Lucky Strike BAR Honda Tim Holloway, Head of Engineering, B&H Jordan Honda Mb<Hirohide Hamashima</b>, Head of Tyre Development, Bridgestone To Hirohide Hamashima: Tell us about the...
Malcolm Oastler, Technical Director, Lucky Strike BAR Honda
Tim Holloway, Head of Engineering, B&H Jordan Honda
Mb<Hirohide Hamashima</b>, Head of Tyre Development, Bridgestone
To Hirohide Hamashima:
Tell us about the Nurburgring and the demands it has on the tyres?
This circuit is not so severe for tyres. The biggest demand is for very high grip under braking and through the hairpin. Consequently, we have brought higher grip tyres than at other races.
Does that mean softer tyres?>
Not just softer, higher grip with extra durability.
How is development going and how many compounds have you had recently?>
We have brought two new compounds to the Nurburgring. Our teams have been testing at Magny-Cours and Silverstone and the drivers said the durability and grip level of the tyres were higher than previous specifications.
The development has to keep rate with your competitor, what does that mean for you and how often are you bringing out new compounds?>
If development produces improved tyres then we would like to introduce new specifications at each race but sometimes the current spec may be better than those in development. On those occasions we will use the current tyres.
Are you testing new developments at virtually every test?>
Yes, of course. Our technical centre in Japan has so many ideas that we have plenty of new tyres for every test and the teams want to test them. If we find that new tyres are good in testing then we will produce them as soon as possible for the next race.
The trend, particularly with the drivers at the front, is to run later and later and to do as many laps as possible. Are you developing tyres specifically for longer runs?>
It makes wear rate very important, and of course durability for maintaining good lap times. The focus in development is on higher grip, durability and heat resistance, this is very important.
And yet, at the same time, the tyres have to be good over one lap for qualifying?>
Yes, and for warm-up too.
To Malcolm Oastler:
Can you give us some idea of the discussion that takes place between Bridgestone and BAR? What are you asking for at the moment?>
Simply better tyres every week, nothing fancy. We have a very good relationship with Bridgestone. We see them every week at tests, we have a visit from Bridgestone technical people every other week to discuss the results of the test and what is planned for the following race and we have meetings consistently throughout the weekend to discuss how the particular tyres are working out in terms of wear rate, degradation and the performance of the two compounds. We have a very close relationship which is what you need in any engineering project to get the best out of it.
But all the time it's a moving target because you're developing the car and they're developing the tyres?>
That's why it's very important to have good communication. Bridgestone needs to be aware of what we're doing with our car and how we're getting on with the tyres. Obviously, we're not the only team that Bridgestone is supplying and there are a lot of variables involved with track testing so Bridgestone takes a very good approach in testing the tyres with different teams at different circuits to get a good statistical result, and we also get some of that feedback. That way we can understand how Bridgestone makes it decisions and why a particular tyre is specified for this circuit, for instance, but also it gives us a broader experience and knowledge than we would have had on our own.
To what degree do tyres influence the development of the car?>
We do chase the tyre a little with the car, specifically with the weight distribution, as the front tyres increase capacity so we must move some more weight forward for instance and vice versa, and camber settings, tows and pressures, the type of settings on the car that are easily adjustable, not so much on the car concept or design.
We are half-way through the season now, is this where you expected BAR to be and where you'd expect Bridgestone to be?>
BAR first, I have to say no, we are falling a little below our expectations. We finished fifth in the championship last year and we're currently running sixth and we'd very much like to improve our championship position rather than stay static or slip back so we've under achieved. That said, the car's performance has been sound, it has been capable of more, we've just not grasped all those opportunities. On Bridgestone's performance, obviously they're leading the championship and have won most of the races. But Bridgestone and Michelin are probably the two best tyre companies in the world and you'd expect Michelin to be a worthy competitor. It would have been surprising, with a team like Williams who have won lots of championships, if they had not popped a couple of wins in.
To Tim Holloway:
What are you looking for in tyre performance during a race weekend and how does that change during the course of a weekend?>
During a weekend you're looking for several things from the tyres. Qualifying is very important and without a good qualifying position the race becomes extremely difficult. The main emphasis is to maximise the tyre from a qualifying point of view and then maximise the grip level for the race.
What allowances can you make as a team with this trend towards running longer during the race? What can you do to help the tyres?>
From a team point of view we do a lot of things and we are starting to understand the tyres more and more, and mechanically, in weight distribution and aerodynamically we are changing a lot to maximise the tyres.
What can you do about getting more speed and improved reliability from the Jordan Honda?>
Qualifying performance has been far better than our race performances. One of the keys to our race performance is to make the tyres survive better and that's something we've been working on in testing recently.
And that, in theory, will allow you to use the softer tyres?>
We've chosen the soft tyre for every single race. Qualifying is so important and that makes you choose the soft tyre. But we are looking at geometries, cambers, tows, everything to maximise the performance of the tyres in a race situation.
In testing, for example at Silverstone last week, is that what you were trying?>
Very much so, from a team point of view at Silverstone it was all about endurance running and trying to maximise tyre life.
Questions from the floor to Hirohide Hamashima:
The expectation when traction control came back was that it would minimise wheelspin therefore tyres would degrade less but it seems the cars are sliding a lot more and tyre wear is increasing.>
So far I don't think traction control has been working that well for the tyres in F1, but according to our experience in DTM, where the software for traction control is improving, tyre wear rate is much better
You've been testing the wider front tyre for almost two months. Nurburgring is an understeer circuit, so when will see it?>
It is still under development. We tested front wider tyres during the winter last year. When the tyre is new the wider front tyre works very well, but when the tyre degrades a little bit there is oversteer. The majority of drivers don't like the oversteer, so we are developing the tyres more.
So, the wider front tyre was to eliminate understeer, but it's giving oversteer?>
The wider front tyre gives the car improved turning-in ability but after the apex of a corner the wider and narrower fronts are almost the same. We are working on improving it.
The new plans for Silverstone include an almost 180 degree, severely banked corner. What stresses and strains will that put the tyres through?>
Of course, lateral load will be much bigger with a banked corner, so construction-wise it's very difficult and also the heat that develops is severe for the tyres.
During the season, if any team wants to move to Michelin next year, could they continue to be involved in the Bridgestone testing programme?>
Fortunately, I'm not facing that situation at the moment. What I can do is supply excellent tyres which satisfy our teams. It would be very difficult, and it would depend on the championship.
Are you likely to bring in brand new compounds for the French Grand Prix?>
Yes. One of them has been tested already, one is brand new.
Will that be the first time this season that you have a compound to a race that has not been tested before?
No. For the San Marino Grand Prix, we brought un-tested tyres. It is not a high risk because we explain how the compound has been modified to the teams and if every team agrees then we will take that tyre to a race.