Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference - April 11th 2002 Present: Ross Brawn - Technical Director - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Hisao Suganuma - Technical Manager - Bridgestone Motorsport HISAO SUGANUMA: Q: Tell us about the new tyres ...
Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference - April 11th 2002
Ross Brawn - Technical Director - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Hisao Suganuma - Technical Manager - Bridgestone Motorsport
Q: Tell us about the new tyres Bridgestone has brought here.
Suganuma: We have taken into the account the type of circuit - the surface is smooth and it's a stop-and-go circuit and we expect the weather conditions to be much cooler than the first three races. We have selected a relatively soft compound and a construction that has good braking and traction performance."
Q: You tested here before Australia which is relatively rare, why did you do that?
Suganuma: We lost the race here last year and we wanted to be stronger this year.
Q: Looking back to the Brazilian race, how did you turn it around because on Friday and Saturday everyone was expecting you not to be so competitive yet on Sunday you were?
Suganuma: Our tyre did not have such a strong performance over a small number of laps but over the race distance the new specification was better than the old spec. The performance in the race was better than in practice.
Q: Has the Brazilian result finally killed the story that Bridgestones do not work as well in hot weather?
Suganuma: Yes, I would say so. Of course, we would like to continue that performance in future races.
Q: How is the collaboration between Bridgestone and Ferrari working for you?
Suganuma: We have a very close relationship with Ferrari, of course, but also with our other teams. At this moment, Ferrari have the capability to do more tyre testing for us and they are able to try many different specifications for us to help us in our development.
Q: Is it the case that there are Ferrari people in Tokyo and Bridgestone people at Maranello?
Brawn: Yes, that's happening. Bridgestone people spend time with Ferrari and Ferrari people spend time with Bridgestone. It is something which is developing and will become much stronger in the next few years. They are working on the concept of the tyre and the concept of the car rather than the tyres we need at the next few races because the decisions on car design are made so far ahead. We have groups of engineers trying to understand how a tyre is designed and Bridgestone has engineers trying to understand how a car is designed. The two groups are working together to try to get the best solutions.
Q: Is that a major step forward for Ferrari?
Brawn: It is for us. We've always worked very closely with the partners we have had in tyres but this open relationship, where all of our car information is available to Bridgestone and all of the tyre information is available to Ferrari, it is the first time we have seen that.
Q: It is not just in terms of information, you have also made a big effort in terms of testing?
Brawn: Yes, it became clear with the tyre war getting hotter and particularly with McLaren moving to Michelin that we had to provide the capacity to test whatever we needed to test at many more circuits. There was a situation last year where we would test a tyre at Mugello and McLaren would perhaps test it at Barcelona and that gave us two good inputs into development. Of course, we don't have that now so Ferrari has to test the tyre at Mugello and Barcelona at the same time to give us the same input. We expanded our test team to create a separate tyre-testing group. That group is not the only group that tests tyres in the sense that all of our test programme is involved with tyres, but that is a group of people that is going to go to Barcelona, go to Monza, go to some of the circuits where we perhaps did not use so much in the past but are now important to make sure we have a better understanding of the tyres.
Q: So you are doing all the work yourselves rather than relying on another team?
Brawn: Yes, it has advantages and disadvantages. Obviously it's a lot more work for us but on the plus side it is work which is directly relevant to our car and our philosophy. We welcome the opportunity to have such a good partnership with Bridgestone.
Q: We all know you have used two cars this year - the F2001 and the F2002 - how interchangeable is the data between the two cars?
Brawn: It is pretty close but the F2002 is a better car. I won't give you the reasons why it is better but one of the things it is better at is consistency of tyres, which is one of the things we saw in Brazil. We had the confidence to do the [one-stop] strategy there because we knew the car was much better with its tyres. That has come from the closer, developing relationship with Bridgestone; we have a better understanding of what the tyres need and we have tried to design a car which utilises that knowledge to improve not only the performance of the car but also the consistency of the tyres.
Q: On the Brazil strategy, you took a certain amount of delight in seeing the surprise of your rivals...
Brawn: Any race is great to win. We don't want to get complacent because there will be lots of occasions when the tables will be turned on us but they seemed so confident we were doing two stops that one stop was almost compulsory! I still think two stops was a very quick strategy but the tyres stood up very well. It's very difficult over a race weekend to establish how consistent the tyres are, you just don't have enough running.
Q: What lessons did you learn from Imola last year?
Brawn: We had some technical problems, particularly with Michael's car, in qualifying and the race. We've learned from all those mistakes. Last year we saw that the hard tyre was too hard and the soft was too soft so we took the opportunity before the season started to do some testing here. As a result of that we should have some very good compounds here. We did some race distances and are reasonably confident that we have a good choice of tyre. The weather can be difficult here but the performance of the Bridgestone wet tyres seems to be better than Michelin by quite a large margin, so we are not too unhappy with cold, wet weather.
Q: In Valencia last week the gap between Bridgestone and Michelin on the first wet day seemed to be between a second and two seconds. Do you consider that to be the current advantage in the wet?
Suganuma: From that result I am confident of our wet tyre performance.
Brawn: The only point I would make is that it is very cold here and it was warm in Valencia. Even with wet tyres you are very sensitive to compounds. There may be a situation that, because of the cold, the difference is eroded but certainly the Bridgestone wets were very good.
Q: Ross, you spoke about the consistency of the lap times with the new car, is the new car better on the tyres or was the old car too aggressive?
Brawn: I suspect both. I don't think the old one was a bad car and we made a good step forward with it mid-season last year; at the beginning of last year we had a feeling that we were a little bit harder on rear tyres. We made another step forward with the consistency this year. It is always the rear tyre that is difficult because the current regulations are so limiting. The rear tyre is far too small and the front tyre is more than adequate. What you try to do is protect the rear tyre without creating too much understeer or too many other handling problems, it is a very fine balance.
Q: Ross, normally a car that is good to the tyres in the race is not aggressive enough in qualifying, are you afraid this might happen with the F2002?
Brawn: Tyre temperature can be a factor in terms of consistency so a car which doesn't generate too much tyre temperature during the race can help in terms of consistency but if you are not careful you will not generate enough heat in qualifying. There are a few little tricks with camber and toe that you can do to help generate tyre temperature for qualifying. It is all about understanding the different requirements and being able to adjust the car to suit them.
Q: Ross, how long does it take from Bridgestone to turn around a concept of a tyre to then bring it to a race, is it a problem?
Brawn: I don't think we can ask Bridgestone to do anything more quickly than they are doing. We tested a tyre last week and it is here racing this week so I don't think there is any better response than that. Hisao called the factory in Tokyo last week because we found a tyre that was suitable for Imola, it was made over the weekend and it is here in Italy today so I really don't think you can do better than that. That is pretty impressive.