French GP: Bridgestone preview

Fresh tyres for French heat The British Grand Prix is set to become one of the most memorable races of 2002 for Bridgestone and its teams, mainly due to the performance of the intermediate tyres when the English summer took a turn for the worse.

Fresh tyres for French heat

The British Grand Prix is set to become one of the most memorable races of 2002 for Bridgestone and its teams, mainly due to the performance of the intermediate tyres when the English summer took a turn for the worse. Michael Schumacher's win at Silverstone eight days ago means eight out of the ten races so far have been won by a car on Bridgestone tyres, with Bridgestone's five teams claiming a total of 141 points out of a possible 260. Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda added to the points tally on Sunday with a well-deserved 4th and 5th place for Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis.

Michael's latest victory - the 60th of his Formula 1 career - means Bridgestone lies in equal 3rd place with its current competitor in the table of Formula 1 tyre manufacturers, with 63 wins each.

This weekend, Formula 1 returns to France and Magny-Cours, deep in the heart of the country where the weather should be very different to Silverstone. The French Grand Prix is the first of two races to be held on consecutive weekends to allow for a short break for Formula 1 in August.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport:

"Bridgestone has enjoyed some excellent results so far this season but the British Grand Prix was definitely a high point. To have our cars claim all but one of the points-scoring positions and to see all our teams forging ahead when the rain came made it a race to remember. In addition to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's latest one-two, I was especially pleased to see Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda claim their first points and in such convincing style. In spite of our recent run of encouraging results, after Silverstone we immediately turned our attention towards the French Grand Prix. We can expect conditions there to be nothing like Silverstone, but I hope the result is not too different, especially since it is our competitor's home track."

The Track

Considered a technical circuit, Magny-Cours consists of slow hairpins, medium-speed corners and fast chicanes. The surface is extremely smooth but the dark colour of the asphalt means it heats up quickly in sunshine. Hot weather is anticipated on race day - last year the track temperature peaked at 51C.

Hisao Suganuma Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport:

"The main feature of Magny-Cours as far as Bridgestone is concerned is rear tyre degradation. This comes as a result of high temperatures combined with the particular type of corners which demand good traction as drivers accelerate early, especially out of the slow hairpins."

The Tyres

Bridgestone is taking two new specifications of dry weather tyre to France, both tested last week.

Hisao Suganuma added: "Clearly, our main aim towards being competitive at Magny-Cours is to minimise rear tyre degradation and to find a high level of heat durability. We had a good result there last year and based on that we have developed even better tyres for this year's race. Our option tyre is likely to be the best choice in high temperatures since it will offer better consistency and balance; the primary specification will be more appropriate if it is cooler. If it rains the surface at Magny-Cours can become quite polished and slippery so we are taking wet-weather tyres that are suitable for all conditions."

Testing

Bridgestone's teams tested at four different circuits last week: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro tested into the weekend at Mugello and Fiorano in Italy; Sauber Petronas, DHL Jordan Honda and OrangeArrows were all at Valencia in Spain; while Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda went to Monza in Italy.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Jordan