Bridgestone Motorsport’s Saturday Update Fuji, Japan

JAPANESE GRAND PRIX F1/2008 -  FUJI 11/10/2008


Fuji, Japan Bridgestone Motorsport’s Saturday Update Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) will start from pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix after using Bridgestone’s soft compound Potenza tyre to lap the 4.56km Fuji Speedway over two tenths ahead of his nearest rival. Hamilton’s lap time – a 1min 18.404secs – shaded the 1min 18.644secs achieved by Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro), who was second fastest, also using the soft tyre. Heikki Kovalainen (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) and Fernando Alonso (ING Renault F1 Team) set the third and fourth fastest times. Felipe Massa (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) was fifth fastest and Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team) will start alongside him. Panasonic Toyota Racing team-mates Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock will line up on the fourth row, whilst the final drivers to qualify in the top ten were Scuderia Toro Rosso team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais. In the morning practice session Kubica topped the times with a 1min 25.087secs lap, set on the wet tyre. He was eight hundredths quicker than Glock. Nelson Piquet was third fastest.  The track surface was wet for this session and the wet and extreme wet tyres were both used. Today’s fastest lap time, a 1min 17.287secs, was set by Massa, using the soft tyre in Q2. Hirohide Hamashima – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said: “It was good to have a dry qualifying session here at Fuji, compared to the wet and foggy conditions we saw here last season, and it was an exciting session too. We saw interesting differences between the Q2 and Q3 times from competitors, so I think tomorrow there will be a range of different strategies. Today was interesting for Bridgestone as all of our range of tyres were used, with the wet and extreme wet tyres used this morning and the medium and soft compounds used this afternoon. This means teams have a lot of data when they look to the skies to consider their options for tomorrow’s race. Rear tyre degradation will be at the forefront of drivers’ minds and how they manage this will be the key point for a strong result. There is still some room for improvement from the track if we do not see any more rain. For those watching the race, how our green grooves disappear from the tyres as they are used will illustrate the differences between the cars, set-ups and drivers. The challenges of the Fuji track means the outer grooves are likely to wear first, as opposed to most circuits where it is the inner grooves which suffer more.”

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