This year the British Grand Prix was held for the last time at Donington Park before it makes the move to Silverstone next season. During the race weekend, weather and tyres were the talk of the paddock as it gave the riders and...
This year the British Grand Prix was held for the last time at Donington Park before it makes the move to Silverstone next season. During the race weekend, weather and tyres were the talk of the paddock as it gave the riders and Bridgestone's tyres a range of conditions to deal with. Friday's practice started wet but was almost dry by the finish, though riders used Bridgestone's wets for the whole session. Saturday was dry all day allowing the use of slicks and Sunday was in between; a wet warm-up followed by a damp race. Despite light rain throughout the race, Andrea Dovizioso took his first win using Bridgestone's soft compound slicks. Only two riders chose to start the race on the wet tyres.
Q&A with Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
The conditions for the British GP were very changeable; what did this mean for tyre performance?
From Bridgestone's perspective, it meant that we were able to show the broad range of track and weather conditions that we are able to effectively deal with using just two compounds of slick tyre and a single wet compound.
It was a difficult race, but I am very happy with the outcome. It is always very tricky to deal with conditions that are right on the fine line between wet and dry, and correct tyre choice is a crucial but hard decision.
On Friday we saw that our wet tyres performed on what was a drying track, and on Sunday during the race we saw that our slick tyres performed impressively on a damp track: the race was declared wet but it was won on slick tyres so for us this is a great achievement for the performance of the 2009 Bridgestone tyres.
I also want to congratulate the riders for their demonstration of great skill in very tricky conditions. Riding technique is even more important with conditions like these, and without such effort from the riders we would not have seen such a good race. They were able to use all of the performance of our tyres on a very slippery track because of their great talent.
During the race, the track and air temperatures actually fell so this meant that tyre temperatures and therefore grip became harder to maintain. In conditions like these, it is not a question of tyre durability but of ensuring that the tyres are able to work well at a low temperature, especially as the rain both reduces the coefficient of grip of the tarmac and serves to actively cool the temperature of the tyres further. I am pleased that even using our medium compound front slick tyre Randy de Puniet finished the race in third in these conditions.
Towards the end of the race, after four riders had entered the pits to change to Bridgestone's wet tyres, riders on the slick tyres and the wet tyres were able to lap at the same pace which is the best indication of the overlap of their operating ranges we have seen all year.
How will you prepare for the next British GP at a circuit of which Bridgestone has no MotoGP experience?
It is correct that we have no MotoGP experience of the Silverstone circuit because it was last used by the premier class in 1986. We only entered MotoGP in 2002 but since then have shown that we learn fast.
Bridgestone also has a wealth of detailed tyre and track information on the Silverstone circuit thanks to our involvement with the Formula One World Championship since 1997.
This gives us an in-depth understanding of factors such as the condition and grip levels of the tarmac at the track. We will continue to study carefully the circuit's proposed layout amends, taking into account information such as the very fast predicted average lap speed, and build a detailed profile of Silverstone.
We know the operating ranges of tyre compounds, so when we combine all this information we will be able to select the most suitable slick and wet Bridgestone tyre compounds accordingly.