Formula One makes a return to Mount Fuji for the first time in 30 years with the Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix on September 28-30, where Bridgestone's medium and soft compounds will be put through their paces on the Hermann Tilke redesigned...
Formula One makes a return to Mount Fuji for the first time in 30 years with the Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix on September 28-30, where Bridgestone's medium and soft compounds will be put through their paces on the Hermann Tilke redesigned track.
Named after Japan's highest mountain, the Fuji Speedway is located in the foothills of this world-famous landmark and, at 4.563km, the track is almost 800 metres longer than the mountain is high (3776m). Mount Fuji itself is a dormant volcano but fans should expect plenty of action to erupt on track over the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.
At approximately 1.5km long, the circuit layout features one of the longest straights in motorsport, meaning that a low downforce car set-up will be essential. However, low downforce set-ups also mean that the emphasis will be on the mechanical grip of the tyres in the tight and twisty aspects of the track.
Grands Prix have only twice before been held at Fuji, with Japanese Grands Prix being held in 1976 and 1977. The long straight is the only feature of the track which is the same as 30 years ago. The most recent re-profiled and resurfaced version of the track opened in April 2005.
Bridgestone tyres were used in both of the previous Grands Prix at this track. In 1976, Japanese driver Kazuyoshi Hoshino, driving a privately-entered Tyrrell-Ford on Bridgestone tyres, ran as high as third during the race. It was the first time that Bridgestone tyres had been used in a Grand Prix and Hoshino was only denied a strong finish in the race as a result of not having sufficient wheels fitted with tyres in the variable weather race.
Hirohide Hamashima, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development:
Q: What challenges does Fuji present?
HH: The major feature of Fuji is naturally its very long straight which is followed by the first of the slow corners. This configuration should present some interesting overtaking opportunities for the drivers so I'm looking forward to seeing the racing next weekend.
There are only two high speed corners: the 100R and 300R and consequently I expect that car set-ups will be in a low downforce configuration. From a compound point of view, we do not expect problems with wear as the surface is relatively smooth. We could, however, see some graining on the front left tyres, especially from the 100R corner, but we don't believe it will be severe.
Q: Are you confident in Bridgestone's tyre choice for this track?
HH: We have learnt a lot from racing at Fuji over the years and by combining this knowledge with simulation data we have been able to predict the need for the medium and soft tyres from our 2007 range. We are confident that these tyres will work well and should produce some good racing.