Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference - July 25th 2002 Ross Brawn- Technical Director - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Hisao Suganuma - Technical Manager - Bridgestone Motorsport TO ROSS BRAWN: What sort of part did Bridgestone play in Michael...
Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference - July 25th 2002
Ross Brawn- Technical Director - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Hisao Suganuma - Technical Manager - Bridgestone Motorsport
TO ROSS BRAWN:
What sort of part did Bridgestone play in Michael Schumacher's 5th world championship?
"It had been clear to us following the experience with Goodyear that it was necessary for a team to have a very close relationship with a tyre supplier. During that period of the tyre war, we were very impressed with Bridgestone's efforts and it required a very concerted effort between Goodyear and Ferrari to be competitive. When we saw Bridgestone's current competitor coming in and joining up with one or two strong teams we became very keen to build a close and strong relationship with Bridgestone, even closer and stronger than we had had up until then."
"Last year we started to discuss with Bridgestone the possibilities of taking the relationship further, putting more of our engineers together on future projects, developing ways of working more closely together, improving Bridgestone's understanding of the car and improving Ferrari's understanding of the tyres. We felt that was the way we had to go in the future. Bridgestone has been an absolute intrinsic part of winning the championship and us being able to dominate in the way that we have."
What sort of efforts has Bridgestone made with you, and vice versa?
"We have spent much more time in Japan to understand the tyre side and groups of Bridgestone people have spent much more time in Maranello. We have had some Japanese engineers based there for the last few weeks and there are certain areas of car and tyre modelling where we are bringing the two together and trying to create a common approach. Instead of the tyres and cars being designed and modelled as separate entities, we are trying to do things as a single entity. There is also a much more intensive, joint review of testing and races to conclude what our next steps should be and what our objectives are."
And in fact you have Luciano Burti testing almost exclusively for the tyres?
"Yes, Bridgestone obviously made a large commitment to Ferrari and we made an equal commitment in terms of making sure we could support the programme. That meant employing another test driver, increasing the size of the test team and having one car and one driver - which can be Luciano or Luca Badoer, it depends on the programme - totally dedicated to tyre testing and really nothing else. On average, at least three days tyre testing are done between every race and that is exclusive tyre testing, not just trying to fit it in when we have done the car testing."
When your engineers are at Bridgestone, what are they investigating - constructions, compounds?
"A number of things. The construction is closer to the car design while compound is more a product of the chemists; construction is more a product of structural engineering and more in line with what we are doing with the car and is something that has to be considered more alongside the car. But there are a lot of other things we are working on with the car and tyre performance and a combination of the two which are very important, the results of which we may see over the next few years."
Do you get a better understanding of the forces the car exerts on the tyres?
"Bridgestone is understanding the force we are exerting on them to develop the tyres, and we understand the force they are exerting on us to test them! In simple terms, the forces or loading on the tyres have been well understood, it is really about how you develop a tyre. Perhaps in the past the tyre and car have been developed as separate entities so you would make steps on the car around the tyre, or make steps in the tyre around the car. So how do you make steps with the two together? That is what we are trying to achieve."
We have had a run of five pole positions from Juan Pablo Montoya, are you worried about that?
"We are concerned. Obviously starting from pole is an easier task. At Magny-Cours life was more difficult because we did not start on pole. Clearly, we had a faster car at the beginning of the race and we were not able to take advantage of that, and we lost Monaco because we were not on pole. It is important and it is something which has some priority for us at the moment both from the tyre and car point of view, but it is achieving that improvement without losing too much in terms of race performance which is difficult. Perhaps as a team we have not devoted enough attention or resources to qualifying and it is something we have to address now to see if we can improve the qualifying performance without sacrificing too much race performance. It is always a trick in motor-racing and Formula 1 - applying the resource where you think is most important, because it is limited."
A three-week gap is coming up with a moratorium on testing, so what will happen during August?
"The background work will still be done. Our meetings continue, there is a lot of development going on in the engineering offices of Ferrari and Bridgestone, and there is a lot of rig work going on. There are some fairly comprehensive rigs available now to do tyre testing, it's not the same as track testing but there is a lot of work we can still do away from the track and that won't stop. There will be a very important Monza test just before the Italian Grand Prix and we have some interesting things to try there so we are preparing for that."
TO HISAO SUGANUMA:
What are your engineers looking at when they go to Ferrari?
"At the moment, we are learning mainly about vehicle dynamics especially for racing cars. To be competitive in racing, it is important to know how the car behaves around circuits. We have been a little bit behind the teams with that kind of technology so we are learning more about it with Ferrari."
What sort of research have you been able to do to choose the tyres for the new Hockenheim track?
"Obviously, we could not use last year's data for the new track so we have had to rely very much on simulation data. Through that, we were able to analyse the load through the tyres, the G-forces and cornering speeds and then evaluate which circuit was closest to the modified Hockenheim. We concluded that it was similar to certain circuits like Magny-Cours then used the data from those circuits to select which range of compounds would be suitable."
The Bridgestone tyres seem to operate over a wide temperature range - is that something you have built into the tyres?
"Yes. When we go to a race where higher temperatures are expected of course we think about the working range of the compound. At the moment, the physical properties of the compounds show they are capable of working across a wide range. If you look at last year, we had success at Magny-Cours in hot conditions but we took same compound to Indianapolis where the track temperature was not as high and also won there."
Does Juan Pablo Montoya's run of pole positions concern Bridgestone as well?
"Oh yes, because I don't like our cars being behind other cars. We want to improve our tyre performance in qualifying but on the other hand if you lose too much performance in the race that is no good. We want to keep the race performance then on top of that improve our qualifying performance. At the moment we are investigating which areas can be improved such as the balance of the car, the level of graining or some other factor. Once we have found the reason for why we are losing a little in qualifying then we will improve."
What sort of work will Bridgestone do during August?
"Normally there is not enough time between races to think too deeply so we will take the opportunity to look back at the first half of the season and try to understand why we lost in Malaysia in Monaco, and use this for future races. And of course, our staff at the technical centre in Tokyo will still be working as well."
Last year you lost in Monza - what steps have you taken to make sure that doesn't happen again?
"We are keen to recover that race which last year favoured the Williams car. We want to help our cars so we have done a lot of testing in Monza already this year and I hope our race tyres will work better than last year. Final selection of those tyres will take place during Monza testing at the beginning of September."
And at the same time your rival seems to be getting a little closer...
"Yes, we are a little concerned about that. Although Michael has got the drivers' championship, we cannot sit back, we have to keep working."