Imola, 23/April /1999 1999 SAN MARINO GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW THE CHOICE FOR IMOLA: SOFT AND MEDIUM COMPOUNDS AGAIN With Michael Schumacher having promised that Ferrari will close the gap on McLaren, Imola is sure to be packed with fans for...
Imola, 23/April /1999
1999 SAN MARINO GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW
THE CHOICE FOR IMOLA: SOFT AND MEDIUM COMPOUNDS AGAIN
All eyes will be on Ferrari, now leading the constructors' championship by eight points from McLaren. After two Grands Prix, Eddie Irvine will be defending his position at the head of the world drivers' championship, which he leads by two hard-won points from Mika Hakkinen and Heinz-Herald Frentzen. With the greater reliability expected after two races and yet more testing, drivers and crews will be putting maximum effort into strengthening their positions in the two championships.
"As a circuit with certain characteristics which resemble those we found at Albert Park and Interlagos, Imola has similar requirements as far as tyres are concerned," says Mr Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport. "For this reason, we have decided once again to supply the teams with the same two Soft and Medium specification tyres used at both previous races.
"It seems probable that the gap in lap times between the two compounds will be bigger than before," adds Mr Ichikawa. "In Brazil, although we believe it was a circuit adapted to the Medium tyre, the drivers' decisions were divided between the both two compounds due to the unstable weather. Under such conditions, the drivers who made their choice of Medium did so to avoid any possibility of tyre degradation.
"In Australia, although we thought that the majority of the drivers would select the Soft compound, their choice was almost equally divided because the Medium spec was expected to offer an advantage in terms of handling.
"For Imola, we believe that the car performance will depend on the drivers' choice of tyres as they seek to gain the maximum possible grip from a track with a surface that offers unusually low grip. This characteristic can make it difficult to get the right handling on the tyres, especially over short runs in practice and qualifying."
Bridgestone will bring 2640 tyres to Imola for the San Marino Grand Prix. They will be divided between the two specs of dry tyre and two choices of wet tyre.
Since returning from South America, Bridgestone technicians took part in the very first wet tyre testing of the year at Fiorano, in collaboration with Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. Both days of the test proved successful, giving the Bridgestone engineers an opportunity to evaluate future rain and intermediate tyres as part of the Bridgestone F1 tyre development programme. Ten rain tyre specifications with different compounds and patterns were evaluated at the Fiorano test.