Bridgestone Motorsport heads home for the final race of the 2001 season in Japan on a high, following success in Indianapolis and with the promise of support from the Japanese fans to look forward to. Despite gaining a wealth of experience of...
Bridgestone Motorsport heads home for the final race of the 2001 season in Japan on a high, following success in Indianapolis and with the promise of support from the Japanese fans to look forward to.
Despite gaining a wealth of experience of the Suzuka circuit from racing there in GT and Formula Nippon, when it comes to Formula 1 Bridgestone is no different to the teams as it makes only an annual visit to the track for the grand prix. The long, twisting, figure-of-eight track that crosses over itself at one point, first hosted the Japanese Grand Prix in 1987, although the country held a round of the world championship for the first time in 1976.
Technically challenging, Suzuka is one of the more popular tracks among the drivers. Whereas in the past the circuit has witnessed some epic duals in the race for the drivers' championship, with this year's title already decided, one of the major battles will be between David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello for second place.
As all Bridgestone F1 tyres are manufactured in Japan, the race specifications for Suzuka have done the least travelling of all the tyres used during the season, being transported by truck on a seven-hour journey from the factory near Tokyo.
Bridgestone has developed two new compounds, which fall towards the harder end of the range, for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager
"Everyone at Bridgestone Motorsport is looking forward to returning to Suzuka for the last race of the year. Of course, it is special for us to race in Japan and we hope to win at Suzuka, but the job we have to do during the grand prix weekend remains the same and we do not feel any extra pressure being in front of our home crowd.
"Suzuka is a fascinating track, with big changes in speed. For example, the very slow Hairpin leads to the medium-speed Spoon Curve followed, after the straight, by the infamous 130R left-hander and then the Chicane. In addition, the track is quite undulating and the surface is abrasive which can cause degradation problems. There has to be good balance between the front and rear tyres, and between wear and grip. Key spots to look out for are the fast, uphill S bends and Spoon corner. Both require responsiveness from the front tyres and good rear stability. All in all, it is a track that is hard on tyres and gives us a lot to think about.
"The tracks that are most like Suzuka are Mugello and Silverstone. Some of our teams have been testing the Suzuka tyres at Mugello this week. We expect our new specifications to give improved grip and better traction, which is something we have been working on in tyre development recently. Finally, from past experience, we would anticipate it being a two-stop race."