January 20,1999 Mr. Yasukawa's questionnaire regarding the 1999 season Q1. We understand that an agreement has been reached with the FIA regarding F1 tyre testing in 1999. Can you say what arrangements are provided by this agreement? A. We...
Mr. Yasukawa's questionnaire regarding the 1999 season
Q1. We understand that an agreement has been reached with the FIA regarding F1 tyre testing in 1999. Can you say what arrangements are provided by this agreement?
A. We understand that a meeting was held on December 7 between the FIA, FOA (Formula One Administration) and the principals of the F1 teams. Certain suggestions were put forward regarding testing procedures in 1999. No representative of Bridgestone was present at the meeting. We are still awaiting a communication from the FIA setting out the official conditions which will apply to F1 tyre tests.
Q2. What restrictions do you anticipate will be applied in 1999 to 1) the number of test days; and 2) the allocation of tyres to individual teams for testing purposes?
A. In a submission to the FIA and FOA, Bridgestone has already made certain proposals based on the different conditions which will apply this year. Although no official response has yet been received, we understand that the teams attending the December 7 meeting discussed guidelines including:
a) A maximum of 50 days' testing, divided equally between 25 days for general testing at designated circuits and 25 free days. All such tests would be restricted to two nominated locations.
b) An allocation of no more than 200 sets of tyres per team to cover the 50 days of testing.
Q3. Which teams will be given the task of developing Bridgestone's F1 tyres? Will they do more testing than rival teams?
A. It has been proposed by the FIA that tyre development should be the responsibility of the two teams which finished first and second in the 1998 drivers' championship. It has not yet been decided whether the development programme will be included in the 50 days allocated for testing or whether additional sessions will be permitted.
Q4. What is the status of the two teams (Honda and Williams-BMW) which will be testing prototype cars this year in preparation for a full race effort in 2000?
A. No decision has yet been made on how many tyres will be provided to these two teams. We would prefer to see them testing alongside the other F1 teams, since this would avoid us having to provide separate servicing arrangements.
Q5. Will certain teams be required to pay for their tyres?
A.Yes, some teams will be required to contribute to the cost of the tyres. The price they pay will, of course, represent only a fraction of the cost of making, delivering and servicing the tyres. It goes without saying that while Bridgestone is a profitable company, it does not seek to receive more than a token sum from such teams. However, we would emphasise that we have never sought to become a monopoly tyre supplier in F1 racing. Having chosen to supply six teams in 1998, this year we will be providing tyres for all 11 teams taking part in the championship, together with the two teams preparing to compete in 2000. Bridgestone estimates that providing the additional manufacturing resources required, together with increased transport costs and manpower, will double the cost to the company of competing in F1.
Q6. Will tyre specification remain frozen in 1999, or does Bridgestone intend to continue the process of development?
A. It must be borne in mind that safety has always been the first concern for Bridgestone, and this requirement is best served by constant development. Also, the differing characteristics of different cars demand such development. We aim to maintain the standards of durability and quality which everyone competing in F1 deserves to expect from us.
Q7. Will the teams continue to have the choice of two different dry-weather tyres at each Grand Prix and also for testing?
A. A choice of tyre is essential. This will continue to apply at race meetings under the current regulations. With regard to testing, there may be some different compounds which will be available to all the teams.
Q8. Last year Bridgestone developed three different types of rain tyre. How many different wet-weather tyres will be available this year?
A. We intend to continue the development of our rain tyres, probably based this year on just two different types of tyre. A final decision on this aspect of our F1 involvement has not yet been made.
Q9. Given that it now enjoys a monopoly in F1, Bridgestone could conceivably impose much harder compounds on its teams. Could this mean certain races taking place without pit stops?
A. Our development programme is still concentrated on investigating the requirements of the four-groove front tyre and no final decision has yet been made on compounds. All we can say is that the new tyres require harder compounds than those used for last year's three-groove tyres. Any tyre company in our position would, of course, prefer to see races run without pit stops. We understand, however, that the small fuel tanks fitted to most cars make this impossible.
Q10. It appears that Bridgestone is taking a long time in reaching formal agreement with certain teams and that several contracts remain unsigned. Why is this so?
A. It is worth recalling that Goodyear did not formally end its association with F1 racing until the last race of the 1998 season. In November almost everyone involved in F1 was on holiday followed by Christmas and New Year. This made time for discussion very limited. In short, we have not had an opportunity to finalise our arrangements with some of the F1 teams.
Q11. How hard will the compounds for the four-groove front tyres have to be? What have been the reactions from the drivers to the extra groove?
A. The compounds will only be as hard as required to provide the combination of grip and durability required for safety. The reduced grip undoubtedly makes the cars more difficult to drive under certain circumstances. This, of course, was one of the objectives of the FIA when it introduced grooved tyres to F1 racing at the beginning of last year. Given that they have to accept lower levels of grip, complaints from the drivers are only to be expected. They were unhappy about the change from slicks to grooved tyres, so it is hardly surprising that they should feel the same now that the regulations stipulate four grooves instead of three. The aim of the FIA was to reduce the cornering speeds of the F1 cars and Bridgestone has followed this requirement.