First taste of fast new Hockenheim Bridgestone and its Formula 1 teams experienced the newly revamped Hockenheimring for the first time today as practice got underway for the German Grand Prix. The circuit has been completely redesigned...
First taste of fast new Hockenheim
Bridgestone and its Formula 1 teams experienced the newly revamped Hockenheimring for the first time today as practice got underway for the German Grand Prix. The circuit has been completely redesigned since last year's race, and until this morning Bridgestone had only simulation data and comparisons with similar tracks to work with in selecting tyre specifications for the weekend.
So far it seems that the predicted pole position time of 1:16s underestimated the real lap time, with new five-time world champion Michael Schumacher ending the day fastest with a lap time of 1:16.086. Traditionally, teams work on race set-up on Friday so it is likely tomorrow's qualifying will see some considerably quicker times.
Rubens Barrichello did not improve on his quickest time in the morning - a 1:16.248 - and remained in second place for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. Eight out of the top ten drivers in the first session were on Bridgestone tyres. Giancarlo Fisichella was back on track for DHL Jordan Honda apparently fit and well after he missed the French Grand Prix following his accident last Saturday. Both OrangeArrows cars also took part in the two hour-long practice sessions.
Hisao Suganuma, technical manager of Bridgestone Motorsport:
"This morning the track was quite `green' and slippery but once the cars had been running for a while the grip improved. However, by this afternoon, it seemed to revert back to the morning conditions. Overall, the tyre performance is what we expected but clearly the lap times are much quicker than predicted. This shows that simulation is simply that, and that there is no true substitute for `real' track running to get a proper picture of how the tyres perform."
The Tyre Choice
Bridgestone has brought one new specification of dry tyre to Germany as well as one that has been raced recently. The range of rain tyres is different from that taken to Magny-Cours.
Hisao Suganuma said: "As is usually the case, one tyre gives better grip and the other is more stable. Once we have had a good look at the tyres themselves and the data from today, we will advise the teams on tyre choice. We will also take into account the warmer weather expected on Sunday. I anticipate that once again we will see both specs used in the race."
Ross Brawn, technical director of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro:
"A little different to normal as we were learning the new circuit today. Both drivers reported enjoying the track and think it will be a good race circuit. As always we tried both Bridgestone tyres but it is not exactly clear which specification we will go for. It looks as though it will be a tough circuit on brakes but it also looks to be a circuit where the drivers can overtake, so that should make it interesting. I think the times tomorrow will be quite a lot faster than today. Overall, the car was reasonably well balanced and we managed to complete our programme so we are happy."