On the eve of a new era in the history of GP2, Bridgestone Motorsport has been busy making preparations for its role as Official Tyre Supplier to the new five round GP2 Asia Series which will kick off this week in Dubai as part of the Grand Racing...
On the eve of a new era in the history of GP2, Bridgestone Motorsport has been busy making preparations for its role as Official Tyre Supplier to the new five round GP2 Asia Series which will kick off this week in Dubai as part of the Grand Racing Series.
In order to cover two official tests and the first round, approximately 1,250 slick Bridgestone Potenza GP2 dry tyres and 630 wet Bridgestone Potenza GP2 tyres have been shipped directly from Bridgestone's Technical Centre in Kodaira City, Japan, to the Dubai Autodrome where they will be put to good use by no fewer than 26 drivers from 18 different countries. In actual fact, drivers will be permitted to use only four sets of dry tyres and two sets of wet weather tyres for Round 1 but additional tyres have been shipped for the two official test sessions.
Round One of the GP2 Asia Series will take place at the end of this week with practice, qualifying and an extended 42-lap race, featuring a compulsory pitstop and tyre change, starting proceedings on Friday 25th and a shorter, 28-lap race running on Saturday 26th January.
Prior to that, however, the drivers have already had a chance to familiarize themselves with the Autodrome's 4.29km Dubai International Circuit layout after conducting a two day test on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th January. A further two day test is taking place on Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd January. After recent heavy rain, track conditions have been difficult with low grip on a sandy surface but with four days of testing under their belts getting used to the 600 hp Renault powered GP2 chassis and Bridgestone Potenza slick tyres, expectations are high for two closely matched and hard fought races.
The GP2 Asia Series marks the next step in the growth of GP2, a concept which has become widely recognized as the final stepping stone to the top echelon of single-seater racing: the FIA Formula One World Championship. After the huge success of the GP2 Series, which has been running primarily in Europe for the past three seasons, Bridgestone welcomed the opportunity to extend its relationship with the series as it expands into new markets further afield.
Quote from Hiroshi Yasukawa - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport
"With the continuous growth in the popularity and accessibility to motorsport around the world, Bridgestone is proud to be supporting the expansion of GP2 into the Middle East and Asia. It provides an excellent platform for Bridgestone to assist young talented drivers in these regions as they hone their race craft. This is a very positive step and through the new GP2 Asia Series we expect 2008 to provide an exciting season as we find the next generation of drivers worthy of a chance of stepping up to Formula One."
Technical Insight with Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
Q: What technical challenges will the first races in Dubai present Bridgestone with?
HH: "First of all, it should be said that we are very excited about this week's inaugural GP2 Asia races. We have chosen to use the same construction of GP2 tyre for the GP2 Asia Series that drew confidence and praise from those drivers competing in GP2 in Europe over recent seasons. The track surface is quite slippery at the moment but we are confident our GP2 Asia slick tyre should not suffer too much from any potential wear or degradation issues brought about by the sandy conditions on track."
Q: What can the GP2 Asia drivers expect from Bridgestone's tyres this week?
HH: "The drivers can expect a tyre capable of long-lasting grip and which will allow a variety of race strategies. However, on this track, the compound may present the drivers with a challenge in qualifying as they will need to get their tyres up to temperature and up to optimum pressure as efficiently as possible. Nevertheless, those drivers who find themselves at the back of the grid in the feature race may well be able to jump up the field utilizing a well timed pit stop. Looking at recent weather reports though, it seems the drivers may also be using our wet weather tyres, which is quite surprising, but we are confident that the drivers will find that our innovative tread pattern, which features sloping tread blocks, will provide them with the performance they require, however much or however little rain falls."
Stats & Facts for Dubai Rd.1 (excludes allocation for official tests)
No. of dry tyres shipped: Approx. 420 tyres
No. of wet tyres shipped: Approx. 220 tyres
No. of dry sets permitted per driver: 4 sets
No. of wet sets permitted per driver: 2 sets