A slick debut for Bridgestone in Valencia Bridgestone Motorsport's new slick GP2 tyres will make their race debut this weekend at the season opening round of the GP2 Series after a two-day test at the Circuit de la ...
A slick debut for Bridgestone in Valencia
Bridgestone Motorsport's new slick GP2 tyres will make their race debut this weekend at the season opening round of the GP2 Series after a two-day test at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valencia Ricardo Tormo, outside the coastal city of Valencia. The Spanish circuit is playing host to the only round of the GP2 Series not running alongside one of the European rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
As a major supporter of the series which is aiming to provide the stars of the future with their final stepping stone before Formula One, Bridgestone is again providing a significant incentive with a $100,000 Bridgestone Prize for the overall winning driver at the end of the season.
This year the series is also featuring a number of technical upgrades and changes including a switch from grooved F1 style dry tyres to slick tyres, providing Bridgestone and the drivers with an exciting new challenge. Working closely with the GP2 development team and Renault protegee Heikki Kovalainen, Bridgestone has developed three different compounds of GP2 slick dry tyre: soft, medium and hard. The teams must all use the same compound, which is determined by Bridgestone in conjunction with the race organizers prior to the race weekend. The opening round will be run on the medium compound slick tyre. The same specification of wet weather tyre, which proved such a considerable success last year, will again be available for wet weather conditions. In total, approximately 12,000 GP2 tyres will be manufactured for the 2006 GP2 Series.
Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, Hirohide Hamashima, thinks the switch from grooved tyres to slicks should provide plenty of excitement for this year's eager crop of 26 drivers. They have had to learn about the handling characteristics of the new tyres as well as how to cope with the higher speeds that slick tyres bring about. "The results from the GP2 tests up to now have shown that every team has had a tendency for oversteer so they have been working hard on their set-ups to improve the balance of the cars. The slick tyres do give the drivers are very different feeling from driving on grooved tyres. Grooved tyres have a normal tendency to grain so this is something this year's drivers will not have to learn how to manage. This should enable them to concentrate more on their actual racing. This weekend will be our first experience of racing with GP2 at Valencia but previous test results suggest that lap times will come down this year by approximately three seconds per lap compared to grooved tyres, narrowing the performance difference between the GP2 and F1 cars in 2006."
Such was the quality of the driving and racing in 2005 that no fewer than three of last year's drivers graduated from GP2 to F1 in 2006. Nico Rosberg, the first ever GP2 Champion has a long standing relationship with Bridgestone. Rosberg was one the company's tyre test drivers in karting and is now a driver to watch out for as he carves out his F1 career with the Bridgestone shod WilliamsF1 team. The talented young German scored points and the fastest lap of the race on his F1 debut in Bahrain just over three weeks ago and followed that by qualifying in third place for the Malaysian GP.