Bridgestone makes an exception to its 2009 race tyre allocation philosophy of leaving a gap between compounds by bringing the soft and super soft tyres to the most slippery race of the year, the Monaco Grand Prix.
Despite its relatively short length, the 3.34km Monte Carlo track has a seemingly endless supply of corners with barely a straight to mention, all bordered by unyielding Armco barriers. To make matters more difficult, the track surface is polished smooth by constant road traffic through the year, meaning that finding grip is a big challenge.
Both the soft and the super soft compounds are from the lower temperature operating range of Bridgestone's F1 tyres, meaning quicker warm-up.
Also of note, Bridgestone will debut a new softer compound intermediate tyre at Monaco. This tyre has been designed to deliver more grip in the wet and will be used for the remainder of this season. Last season Lewis Hamilton won an eventful Monaco Grand Prix after using Bridgestone's wet (now intermediate) and soft dry grooved tyres.
Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, said:
What are the challenges of Monaco?
"Finding grip will be the main challenge on the streets of Monte Carlo. This is a very interesting circuit, and one where the track is made of many different types of surface as well as there being public road markings on the track. Also notable is that F1 does not run on Friday, so the track conditions can change quite a lot between Thursday and Saturday. When there is no racing taking place, public vehicles and also people use the track. This makes it difficult for rubber to build up and the surface can become dirty again, which does not help the track surface develop well for racing."
How different is the new intermediate tyre?
"The new intermediate tyre gives more grip through having a softer compound than the old one, but driving the latest specification F1 cars in the wet will always be a challenge, no matter what tyres are used. The latest cars have less downforce so less aerodynamic grip than before, and this is true in wet or dry conditions. In the dry, less downforce is not as much of a problem as the slick tyres have more grip than the previous grooved tyres, so there is more mechanical grip to counter the loss of aerodynamic grip. In the wet, even with our new intermediate tyres, there is only slightly more grip than before. In the wet we still need the drainage channels in the tread to prevent aquaplaning, so the only grip improvement must come from new compound developments."
Stats & Facts
Number & Spec of tyres brought to Monaco 1800 (Soft & super soft dry. Intermediate/wets)
Pole position time 2008: 1min 15.787secs (Massa)
Fastest race lap 2008: 1min 16.689secs (Raikkonen)
Top three 2008: Hamilton, Kubica, Massa