For the first time this year, the Circuit de Valencia saw all four current Bridgestone teams running at the same circuit this week 28-31 January. As the countdown to the first race of the season progresses, Bridgestone's engineers have been ...
For the first time this year, the Circuit de Valencia saw all four current Bridgestone teams running at the same circuit this week 28-31 January.
As the countdown to the first race of the season progresses, Bridgestone's engineers have been working closely with each team to complete extensive dry tyre testing programmes with the ultimate aim of further narrowing down Bridgestone's final choice of basic tyre specification for the year.
Each of the Bridgestone shod teams; Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, sauber petronas, Jordan Ford and Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda, were assigned a variety of test programmes in order to maximise the collation of data.
Although Valencia bears little similarity to the Melbourne circuit (the venue for the first round of the season in early March), the two do however share the same tendency to produce understeer. One of the tasks for this week therefore was for Bridgestone's engineers to study the effects of this characteristic on its tyres.
However, at the conclusion of three days intensive testing, Bridgestone's Technical Manager, Mr Hisao Suganuma is pleased with the results so far, commenting: "We've seen some good lap times from all our teams this week and most of them seem happy with the constructions we've been trying. We should be able to finalise our basic tyre specification shortly."
Due to high winds and cold weather conditions however, teams were unable to conduct more than a short period of today's scheduled wet weather testing programme for Bridgestone.
Mr. Suganuma commented: "We are sure there will be further opportunities to conduct wet weather testing over the coming weeks so we are not too concerned at this stage."
However, today's events do highlight the importance of Bridgestone's Hydro Simulation Technology and the advantage this could give the tyre manufacturer over its rivals.
"In addition to trackside testing, we do however have the use of our Hydro Simulation software at our Technical Centre in Japan. This technology enables us to find and optimise better pattern designs for our wet weather tyres before they even hit the track in real life, thus saving considerable time and resources."
WHAT IS HYDRO SIMULATION TECHNOLOGY?
When Bridgestone first developed its Hydro Simulation technology, it put the Japanese company at the forefront of wet tyre development.
In 2002, Hydro Simulation technology was used to great effect by its F1 tyre research and development departments.
Bridgestone's Head of Tyre Development, Mr Hirohide Hamashima explains the benefits saying: "Before, we made patterns drawn simply from experience. Now it is a computer-aided process rather than trial and error. Sometimes it comes up with a result (design) very similar to our original idea, based on experience. But the computer also gives us new ideas."
Mr Hamashima explains the technology further: "It is like a wind tunnel for tyres. We can calculate the resistance of water on the tyre and how much we can clear using the pattern. The computer adjusts the basic pattern for maximum effect of water flow."
Once initial research using computer simulations has been completed, only the best designs go forward for production and trackside testing, eliminating the need for excessive testing.