This weekend marks the end of the 2002 season on the track with Bridgestone's teams wrapping up the final testing programmes of the year. Sauber Petronas completes its last session today while Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and Lucky Strike B.A.R....
This weekend marks the end of the 2002 season on the track with Bridgestone's teams wrapping up the final testing programmes of the year. Sauber Petronas completes its last session today while Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and Lucky Strike B.A.R. Honda are due to continue into the weekend.
The week got off to a wintry start with snow falling on Ferrari at Fiorano in Italy. On Tuesday, the test team worked on wet weather tyre testing but the programme was hampered by low temperatures. On Thursday, Luciano Burti moved to Mugello but, again, cold weather and rain allowed for very little running. The conditions were not much better at Barcelona on Wednesday but Bridgestone took advantage of a damp track to run a wet tyre test with Sauber Petronas and Heinz-Harald Frentzen at the wheel. Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer were also in action at the Spanish track, working with Bridgestone on compound and construction development.
B.A.R. began testing at Jerez today and a major tyre programme lies ahead of the team this weekend. British driver Jenson Button is testing today, his first time out on Bridgestone tyres for two years. Japanese driver Kosuke Matsuura will also test for the team this weekend in his first run in a Formula 1 car.
Hisao Suganuma, Bridgestone's Technical Manager, said: "The weather has not been kind to us this week although it has not prevented us from doing some valuable work. We have done some excellent comparisons of compounds and constructions that have given us some useful information to work with over the next few weeks. In particular, the rain at Barcelona on Wednesday was ideal for running a wet tyre programme. The opportunity to test in natural rain conditions is extremely valuable and much better than simply wetting the track to simulate such weather."
Overall, Suganuma has been pleased with the rate of progress during the last three weeks of winter testing.
He explained: "Our test programme is on schedule and we have collected a lot of information. There is still a large amount of work to be done to decide which specifications will form the basis of next year's race tyres but at least the range of specifications is being gradually reduced. Apart from a short break for Christmas and New Year, we will be analysing this data before testing re-starts in January.
"Our first target then will be to continue improving the heat durability of our tyres. We took some strides forward this season but we have a continuous programme of improvement, mainly because the cars are changing. We can expect the 2003 cars to be faster which generates more heat through the tyres so we have to be one step ahead in working out what the exact effects will be. While consistency of the tyres during the race remains our priority, we will also be looking to step up our qualifying performance."