Nurburgring, September/ 17/ 1999 1999 EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW CONTROLLING THE UNDERSTEERING WILL BE THE KEY All eyes next week will be on the Nurburgring, where world championship contenders Mika Hakkinen (West McLaren ...
Nurburgring, September/ 17/ 1999 1999 EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW CONTROLLING THE UNDERSTEERING WILL BE THE KEY
All eyes next week will be on the Nurburgring, where world championship contenders Mika Hakkinen (West McLaren Mercedes) and Eddie Irvine (Scuderia Marlboro Ferrari) face each other in the European Grand Prix. The two have exactly 60 points each, and with Heinz-Harald Frentzen having lifted his score to 50 points after his victory in Italy, there are now three drivers fighting for the title in what promises to be an exciting and maybe decisive round.
In preparation for this last race of the 1999 world championship in Europe, Bridgestone supplied tyres to the eight F1 teams present at Magny-Cours for the last FOA test of the season. Starting on Tuesday (September 14), half of the first day and the whole second day were mainly wet or damp, while the final day's running took place under dry conditions.
The McLaren of Daviv Coulthard set the fastest lap of 1:17.500s under dry conditions.
All the teams in France had an opportunity to evaluate the performance of the Extra Soft compound, which with the Soft compound will be the tyre choice available from Bridgestone at the Nurburgring.
Bridgestone engineers report that the teams now understand even better the characteristics of the Extra Soft tyre, which is the same compound some of them chose when it was previously offered at Monaco and in Hungary. The teams' final decision of compound does not, of course, have to be made until just before qualifying at the Nurburgring.
The one and half day of unpredictably wet conditions at Magny-Cours helped the Bridgestone engineers to approve the suitability of the Heavy Wet tyre, which will be offered at the Nurburgring. Under the cool temperatures expected for this race, and on a surface which tends to retain water, this tyre is expected to be a good choice even in light rain.
With the high speeds of Monza now just a memory, the challenge facing the F1 teams in Germany will be to set up their cars to reduce to a minimum the understeering usually experienced on the Extra Soft rubber.
"Bearing in mind the advantage in qualifying to be gained on the Extra Soft compound, the teams will be tempted to use it in order to gain positions on the grid," says Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport. "However, they will also have to set up their cars very carefully to minimise understeering and the possibility of aggravating wear on the front tyres.
"The Extra Soft, when still new and properly used, can be expected to be faster in the first few laps. But consecutive laps are likely to be slower as the probability of understeering increases at each lap. The Soft compound, however, can be expected to offer more stability and provide more consistent lap times."
Bridgestone will bring 2640 tyres to the Nurburgring for the European Grand Prix. This total will be divided between the two specifications of dry tyre and two additional choices of wet tyre.