Japanese GP: Bridgestone preview

Season ends with a Bridgestone century The Japanese Grand Prix is always a special event for Bridgestone because at Suzuka the company is racing on home soil. However, this year the race holds extra significance as it is the 100th grand prix ...

Season ends with a Bridgestone century

The Japanese Grand Prix is always a special event for Bridgestone because at Suzuka the company is racing on home soil. However, this year the race holds extra significance as it is the 100th grand prix since Bridgestone joined Formula 1 in 1997.

The seven-hour journey the tyres make from Bridgestone's technical centre and factory in Tokyo to Suzuka is the shortest of the year and the track's accessibility by train means staff who do not normally attend races can join the enthusiastic Japanese crowd.

Suzuka is also a popular track with the drivers who enjoy its speed and multiple changes of direction. With this year's world championships decided and second place in the drivers' table already claimed by Rubens Barrichello, the race is expected to have an extra fun feel.

Nevertheless, the competition remains serious for Bridgestone which is hoping to make the last race of the 2002 season the 70th grand prix to be won by a car on Bridgestone tyres.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport:

"The last six years have been challenging and rewarding for everyone involved in our Formula 1 programme and, I am happy to say, very successful too for our company. All of the last ten world championships - drivers' and constructors' - have been won on our tyres and this has helped the Bridgestone name and our reputation for high quality technology and products become better known throughout the world. We look forward to rounding off the season with another win on Bridgestone tyres, and continuing our collaboration with our teams next year and beyond."

The Track

Although Suzuka is used by Bridgestone to test tyres for domestic series like Formula Nippon and Japanese GT, the company has no technical advantage at its home race - its Formula 1 engineers visit the circuit only once a year for the grand prix. The track is long, fast and twisty, at one point crossing over itself to form a figure-of-eight.

Hisao Suganuma Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport:

"Suzuka is a demanding track compared to some of the other places where we race in Formula 1. There are a couple of medium to high-speed corners like Spoon Curve and 130R as well as the challenging esses. A competitive lap time depends on quickly negotiating the changes of direction through this part of the circuit - the key to this is balance, rear stability and good responsiveness in the front tyres."

The Tyres

Bridgestone's teams had a chance to test six different potential race specifications last week and the choice of tyres available at Suzuka was based on the results of the tests. The two dry weather specifications are both new. The range of rain tyres includes two intermediate specifications and one normal wet tyre, which is new.

Hisao Suganuma, added: "Traditionally, Suzuka is a two-stop race. Although this means each stint consists of only around 20 laps, it is a tough race on tyres. Degradation is high because of the high speeds, abrasive surface and the load put through the tyres due to the many changes of direction and undulations in the track. The compounds have to be in the mid-range in terms of hardness and the new tyres for this race were developed using our latest technology to increase grip and consistency performance."

"For wet tyres, we are continuing our recent tradition by offering two intermediates and one normal wet specification and I am very confident about their performance. If it does rain at Suzuka then it is usually quite heavy and persistent so wet grip is very important. However, there is a tradition in Japan that says October 10 is a day when it never rains and although the cars are not running on that day, it might bode well for the weekend!"

-bridgestone-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Hiroshi Yasukawa