Bridgestone technical director Hisao Suganuma answers questions on tyres and testing. Do all your teams test the same tyres? "Usually they all get the same opportunities to test the same tyres. Whether they then choose to test them all is up...
Bridgestone technical director Hisao Suganuma answers questions on tyres and testing.
Do all your teams test the same tyres?
"Usually they all get the same opportunities to test the same tyres. Whether they then choose to test them all is up to each team but from our point of view the more teams that test every specification the better. It is not in our interests, nor that of the teams, to limit the testing of any tyres. In order to develop and improve we need as much data and information as possible."
"Occasionally, some teams will test different tyres. This does not represent favouritism to any given team - it is partly about testing the right tyres at the right circuit. For example, if B.A.R. Honda opt to test at Paul Ricard then we provide tyres suitable for that type of circuit. The main influence on whether different teams try different tyres is the amount of work we need to get through. At a typical test we will devise up to ten different programmes and in order to get results from all of them and to test efficiently we need to share the workload."
So the teams are working on your behalf...?
"To a certain extent, yes, and we are very grateful for their help! It has to be remembered that once the season is underway, there is no time to do a lot of laboratory testing of our tyres, and in any case there is no substitute for track testing. We could not continue to produce better tyres and confirm the direction we take in development without our teams' help."
Are Bridgestone tyres designed exclusively for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro?
"No, we design the tyres for the different tracks and the conditions we can expect during the race. Using data from previous races, we develop new tyres each year based on the type of corners, the track surface and other factors. I have heard some people say that Ferrari get special tyres but this is not true. We are allowed to take two dry and three wet specifications to each race and they are exactly the same tyres offered to all our teams. The sets of tyres are allocated randomly and checked by the FIA regularly during a race weekend, so there is no chance of favouritism, which is good."
"Where Ferrari does have some influence is over the specifications that actually make it to the races. When we were devising our development programme for this year last autumn, Ferrari immediately offered us unprecedented resources to test. They took on a new test driver (Luciano Burti), employed more test staff and made available another car. Consequently, they do more test miles than all our other teams put together."
Is it true that if Ferrari asks for a new tyre or a particular characteristic in the tyres, they get it?
"The information we receive from our teams at tests influences which tyres we take to a race. Inevitably most of that information comes from Ferrari because of the amount of mileage they do. It is perhaps inevitable, therefore, that the tyres sometimes appear to suit them very well; they have more opportunities to adjust their car to suit the tyres. Nevertheless, it is not the case that the tyres only suit Ferrari and I still say that a good tyre designed for the right circuit should work well for all our teams."
"When we chose this year's control specification - the Base tyre' against which other tyres are compared - we used test results from all our teams in this decision. We need a variety of cars to confirm the test results; any other way would be dangerous because it might lead us in completely the wrong direction. So when we do a comparison of different tyre specifications, all our teams have a chance to try out potential race tyres. When we decide finally on the best race specs we put together the test results and information from all our teams."
What if certain tyres do not work at all on a particular car?
"This happens very rarely but if it does of course we investigate why. Although certain teams may have preferences for certain characteristics in the tyres, the differences are not enormous. All the designers have to work within the same constraints but of course innovation is what Formula 1 is about. We have to be aware of any major new steps teams are taking and this is one area where close collaboration is important. I think all our teams' designers would say they need to work with Bridgestone to get the best out of the tyres when they design their cars."
When will you start your winter test plan and has work begun yet on the 2003 tyres?
"Yes, staff at our technical centre in Tokyo are already working on next season's tyres and we have begun to track test for next year as well. This year's championships were once again decided quite early and since testing is allowed during November and December this year, we have to be ready soon with the first prototype. Our first priority is to win and score maximum points in the remaining races this year and to collect the maximum amount of information for development. Meanwhile, our technical team in Japan is looking even further ahead. The August break gave us the opportunity to analyse closely the season to date and to pinpoint any difficulties we have encountered. They are being taken into account as we develop next season's tyres. Most of the winter testing will take place in Spain."