Malaysian GP: Bridgestone preview

Bridgestone ready to strike back in Malaysia After a mixed start to the 2003 season for Bridgestone Motorsport, which saw the Scuderia's fourth placed Michael Schumacher finish highest for the Japanese tyre manufacturer at the season opener in...

Bridgestone ready to strike back in Malaysia

After a mixed start to the 2003 season for Bridgestone Motorsport, which saw the Scuderia's fourth placed Michael Schumacher finish highest for the Japanese tyre manufacturer at the season opener in Melbourne, the Bridgestone team returns to the Malaysian Sepang circuit in fighting mood.

Fickle weather conditions and a couple of safety car periods may have caused considerable disruption in Australia, but Bridgestone's engineers are leaving nothing to chance and have been in Europe over the past week with both the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda teams, testing in earnest and finalising the tyre specifications for the forthcoming fifth Malaysian Grand Prix. Bridgestone also conducted a fundamental study in Fiorano (Italy), which has provided useful data for future race tyre development.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport:

"Melbourne was a strange start to the season for us. The Bridgestone teams showed considerable promise and potential during the practice and qualifying sessions and we clearly had the advantage over our rivals in final qualifying, as the grid positions illustrate. However, we are confident that we'll bounce back at Malaysia's Sepang circuit. Michael finished third on the podium for Bridgestone in 2002 and this year we intend to improve on that result. Sepang is a magnificent facility and I think we can be sure of a great race there."

The 2003 Tyres
Approximately 1,100 race tyres will be flown directly to Malaysia from Bridgestone's F1 tyre production facility in Tokyo. With two specifications per team permitted (ie ten for five teams), Bridgestone will be bringing an almost full quota of specifications to what is described as the hottest race in the world. Last year, ambient air temperatures during the race rose to approximately 36C whilst track temperatures reached a scorching 47C.

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager:

"We made considerable improvements to our compounds and constructions over the winter testing period and believe our tyres will cope well this year in the expected hot and humid weather conditions at Sepang. Having spent the past week testing and finalising our Malaysian specifications in Europe, it is fair to say that the test results have encouraged us to strike back in Malaysia."

The Track
The 5.543km (3.444 mile) Sepang circuit, like Melbourne's Albert Park, has a smooth track surface requiring tyre compounds to be on the softer side for traction and grip. Searing temperatures, long, fast straights, slow technical corners and a wide track encouraging overtaking manoeuvres, also means that Sepang is one of the most demanding circuits currently on the F1 calendar.

Hisao Suganuma comments: "Sepang's track characteristics mean that a softer compound is preferable. However in the past, teams have traditionally employed a one-stop strategy, which meant that any soft compound running for a long distance had to be fairly durable. This year however, it will be difficult to predict what strategy the teams will use because of the new regulation changes."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Ferrari