Spanish GP Bridgestone preview

Traction control - how will it affect tyres? The Circuit de Catalunya may be one of the toughest for tyres on the F1 calendar, but this year's race at the Spanish track promises to bring at least some relief for the rubber. The relaxation of ...

Traction control - how will it affect tyres?

The Circuit de Catalunya may be one of the toughest for tyres on the F1 calendar, but this year's race at the Spanish track promises to bring at least some relief for the rubber. The relaxation of regulations surrounding electronic aids marks the return of traction control to F1, and with it some reduction in the stresses placed on tyres.

The new rules come into force as the 2001 championship narrows with Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard sharing the lead with 26 points each. Rubens Barrichello completes the top three, who all drive on Bridgestone tyres, with 14 points.

All Bridgestone's contracted teams were involved in intensive test programmes last week prior to Barcelona. Early starts and late finishes reflected the amount of work still to be done on new electronic systems as well as evaluation of new aerodynamics, brakes and tyres.

Michael Schumacher worked on tyre testing in his Ferrari at Mugello on Friday, while the West McLaren Mercedes of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard led the unofficial timesheets at Silverstone. They were joined by Lucky Strike BAR Honda and B&H Jordan Honda in trying out new softer compounds at the Northamptonshire track. Although these tyres are not for use in Barcelona, the data collected will be used in future development.

Bridgestone Motorsport will be taking approximately 1,600 tyres to the Circuit de Catalunya, two dry specifications and three types of wet tyre. Both dry compounds have been proven at races this year.

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager at Bridgestone Motorsport, said:
"Barcelona is one of the most severe tracks for tyres. The surface is abrasive and the longer middle-to-high speed corners together with fairly consistent high speeds all increase the chance of wear. Overtaking is difficult so qualifying position will be important. We are taking a harder compound and a softer compound to Spain, both of which should suit the conditions well, especially since we can also expect the temperatures to be much higher than at Imola. It's likely that we will see most teams opting for a two-stop strategy.

"Although it is a tough track, the introduction of traction control should help prevent rear wheel sliding and therefore reduce degradation on the rear tyres. However, the limiting of power one gets with traction control may mean that lap times grow so drivers will not want to rely on it too much if they are to make the most of the extra grip. If wear levels improve then it is possible that softer tyres can be used, but at this stage it is difficult to say how much we can expect from the new system.

"Unfortunately, unstable weather at Silverstone last week, which even included snow, meant we could not complete as much work as we had hoped with our dry compounds. However, we were able to do some work on tyres designed to reduce understeer and this work will continue." <pre> Spanish Grand Prix Facts:

Circuit length: 4.730km - Race distance: 307.323km - 2000 Pole Position time: 1:25.703

2000 Pole Position: Michael Schumacher - 2000 Race Winner: Mika Hakkinen

-Bridgestone/Firestone-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Jordan