European GP: Bridgestone preview

Tyres ready for 'new' Nurburgring After a short break outside Europe at the Canadian Grand Prix, Formula One returns to the continent for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany. Michael Schumacher's victory in Montreal eight days...

Tyres ready for 'new' Nurburgring

After a short break outside Europe at the Canadian Grand Prix, Formula One returns to the continent for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany. Michael Schumacher's victory in Montreal eight days ago marked the 150th win for Scuderia Ferrari - and the 31st for the team since Bridgestone became its tyre supplier in 1999. Bridgestone was encouraged by its performance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, its development work for the grand prix producing a race-winning tyre, while two more cars on Bridgestone tyres were in the points.

In terms of tyre choice, the Nurburgring is not dissimilar to Montreal although the west German track has been altered since last year's grand prix. The new configuration lengthens the track by half a kilometre (0.36 miles) so the number of laps has been reduced from 67 to 60. The `new' layout still falls short of the infamous old 22.5km (14 miles) Nurburgring which first hosted the European Grand Prix in 1984. Set in the forests of the Eifel mountains where the weather is often changeable, the current Nurburgring is undulating with a mix of fast and slow corners.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport

"Montreal is not an easy track for which to develop tyres but we learned from last year's result and carried out a lot testing to produce tyres that allowed our cars to maintain a strong pace throughout the race. Ultimately, a car on our tyres won and that is the result we wanted and the only true measure of success. Nevertheless, our work does not stop and we will endeavour to make further improvements for next year. Meanwhile, we are looking forward to racing at the newly revised Nurburgring."

The 2002 Tyres

The tyre specifications Bridgestone is taking to the European Grand Prix are similar to those used at Imola since, like the Italian circuit, the Nurburgring requires softer compounds from the Bridgestone range. The wet tyre choice must include specifications capable of working well in lower temperatures.

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport

"The main factors at the Nurburgring are grip and balance. Like Imola and Montreal, it is not a particularly abrasive track so a softer compound is needed to supply grip. The average speed, which used to be similar to Canada, is likely to decrease with the new track layout. In addition, the duration of high speed running is less at the Nurburgring which makes it easier in terms of the tyres' heat durability. For Canada, we opted for a less conservative approach in order to be competitive and find a good compromise between grip and heat durability, and since very little lap time was lost due to tyre performance, that approach paid off."

The Track

The changes to the Nurburgring make the track longer but are unlikely to make a great deal of difference to tyre choice. Turn One, the start of the Castrol S, is now a hairpin followed by new turns two and three before the track rejoins the straight into what is now turn five.

Hisao Suganuma added: "The new configuration includes additional slow corners so the impact of the revisions on tyres will not be very siginificant. The main issue about this circuit is not the track itself but its location. The weather can be very changeable and the ambient and track temperatures can alter quickly during the weekend. We have to try and take account of that not only in our dry-weather tyre options but also with the rain tyres."

Testing

Bridgestone's teams undertook a tough programme of tyre testing in preparation for the British and French grands prix last week. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro ran at Mugello, Italy where they were joined by Sauber Petronas and at Jerez in Spain where they shared the track with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda. At this time of year, both circuits are good proving grounds for hot weather testing of rear tyre consistency.

-bridgestone-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Gilles Villeneuve , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Ferrari , Sauber