Monday, 30 June 2008

Bridgestone Motorsport British Grand Prix Preview

Formula One heads to the United Kingdom for the ninth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where Bridgestone’s hard and medium Potenza tyres will tackle the tough turns of the 5.14km Silverstone circuit near Northampton.

This Grand Prix marks the half way point in the season and only ten points separate the top four drivers. Felipe Massa (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) currently leads the standings, with Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team), Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) and Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) all in hot pursuit. Each one of these drivers has been at the top of the standings at some point in the season so far, illustrating the close battle with all drivers using Bridgestone tyres as the Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship.

This will be the 59th running of the British Grand Prix, and the 42nd time the event has taken place at the Silverstone track. The circuit is one of the oldest on the calendar and it is characterised by its high-speed layout. Although most of the track is high-speed, there is a slower complex before the main straight, which is a breeding ground for tyre graining.

Last year Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) used a medium – medium - hard tyre strategy to win the British Grand Prix by 2.4 seconds from team-mate Felipe Massa. Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) finished third.

Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said:

What are the challenges of Silverstone? “Silverstone is one of the more harsh circuits on the calendar, which is why we bring the hardest compound Potenza tyres from our range. It is a tough circuit for tyres in the sense of the layout and the track surface, which is one of the more abrasive we use. Graining is always a consideration when coming into the final complex, and tyre management of this is an important aspect to getting a good result. Drivers require good stability from their tyres to give them confidence through the high-speed turns. Good heat and wear resistance are also desirable here.”

What has been learnt from the latest test in Silverstone? “The medium compound enabled a faster lap time over one lap, and if conditions are similar for the Grand Prix we would expect this to be the preferred tyre for qualifying. The hard compound enabled more consistent performance. However, if teams and drivers are able to manage the graining, the medium compound could be the preferred option in the race. As teams have now tested here so close to the Grand Prix weekend, we should see very close lap times as competitors have a good opportunity to find a good setup and maximise their cars to Silverstone’s requirements.”

Stats & Facts
Number & Spec of tyres brought to Silverstone 2,200 (wet/extreme wets and hard & medium dry)
Pole position time 2007: 1min 19.997 (Hamilton)
Fastest race lap 2007: 1min 20.638 (Raikkonen)
Top three 2007: Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton