Bridgestone Motorsport arrives in Malaysia for the fourth Formula 1 grand prix at the Sepang circuit having made a promising start to its 2002 campaign - albeit in bizarre circumstances. Michael Schumacher was the only driver on Bridgestone tyres...
Bridgestone Motorsport arrives in Malaysia for the fourth Formula 1 grand prix at the Sepang circuit having made a promising start to its 2002 campaign - albeit in bizarre circumstances. Michael Schumacher was the only driver on Bridgestone tyres to finish the Australian Grand Prix eight days ago, with half the Bridgestone runners going out at the first corner.
However, the result and the performance of the new tyres throughout the weekend confirmed that the development direction which the company followed during the winter was the right way to go, with both the dry and wet tyres performing well in unusual conditions. Bridgestone is hoping all its teams -- Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Sauber Petronas, DHL Jordan Honda, Lucky Strike BAR Honda and OrangeArrows -- manage to pick up more points this weekend.
Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport, said: "Australia was both a successful and a disappointing race for us. Just one car on Bridgestone tyres finished the race, but in first place so we were delighted about that. However, our engineers believed the tyres we took to Melbourne were perfect for the race so it was a pity that more of our teams did not benefit. Nevertheless, after one race one of our teams is leading the championship which is where we wanted to be going to Malaysia, and the performance of our tyres so far has been very encouraging."
Bridgestone will take one of its dry-weather specifications used in Melbourne to the Malaysian Grand Prix; the other specification is a new challenger developed for Sepang. The tyres are designed to suit the higher temperatures expected at Sepang and the abrasive character of the track, which is particularly demanding on the front tyres. Compared to last year, the new tyres should also provide improved grip as well as being durable in the conditions usually encountered in Malaysia. Bridgestone is taking more than 1,500 tyres to Malaysia -- 820 dry tyres, 720 wet.
Hisao Suganuma, technical manager of Bridgestone Motorsport, said: "In Malaysia, you need to be ready for anything, as last year proved, so we will have tyres to meet all conditions whether hotter, cooler, damp or wet. We are fortunate in that we have specifications that will perform well in all weathers and temperatures."
"We believe one of our main jobs as a tyre supplier is to be prepared for any eventuality and develop tyres that perform to 100 per cent whatever the weather. The Malaysia specs were developed through close collaboration with our teams and using some of the valuable results from winter testing. The tyres were available for testing last week at Silverstone, Fiorano and Mugello."
Now in its fourth year, the Malaysian Grand Prix is renowned for having some of the best facilities in Formula 1 -- and for some of the highest temperatures. For a tyre supplier it presents a number of challenges, not least because of the legendary heat, humidity and constant threat of rainfall.
It is a track of extremes, with speeds on the two longest straights which sandwich the main spectator grandstands nudging 320km/h (200mph), while at the slowest of the technical corners they fall to just 80km/h (50mph). Sepang is the widest track overall on the calendar so there are more overtaking opportunities.
Hisao Suganuma added: "The Sepang circuit consists of a combination of slow speed, high speed and long straights which means it demands a lot from the tyres -- grip, responsiveness and stability. On top of that, the track surface is relatively smooth so a softer compound is required to help the cars' handling. It is a difficult track from a tyre point of view."