Bridgestone Potenza slick tyres made their grand prix return in the Australian Grand Prix where Jenson Button made the perfect debut for the Brawn GP team by using a medium-medium-super soft tyre strategy to win the first race of the season run to Formula Ones exciting new regulations.
Button took his race win leading team-mate Rubens Barrichello and Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Jarno Trulli across the line, however Trulli was later penalised for passing whilst behind the safety car, and fourth across the line Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) was awarded third. Barrichello used the same strategy as Button, whilst Hamilton started on the super soft tyre and twice changed to the medium. The latest specification cars and Bridgestones slick tyres meant an exciting and challenging 58 laps in Albert Park with the different performance of Bridgestones two compounds one of the talking points of the event.
Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
How was the first race of 2009 from Bridgestones perspective?
Firstly, congratulations to Jenson Button and the Brawn GP team for winning and Rubens Barrichello for coming second in an exceptionally exciting race. Congratulations too, to the FIA for the new regulations and the teams for developing such exciting and quick new cars. This was a significant race as it shows that the changes for 2009 have made a big difference for Formula One.
Bridgestones slick tyres and our new allocation philosophy gave competitors a lot to think about and some managed better than others. Tyre strategy was crucial to making up places, and the key to getting a good result here was having a good setup with the super soft tyre as the performance of this tyre dropped off very quickly. The medium tyre was very robust and allowed good strategy and setup options for teams.
What did you think of the different tyre strategies used?
This was the first race for teams with our new tyres so there were many different approaches over the weekend. From Saturdays data we knew that the super soft tyre was around 1.2 seconds faster than the medium over its first flying lap so those who started on the super soft had a good advantage at the beginning. However, those who used the super soft for their last stint benefitted from the improved track surface due to rubber laid during the race. We predicted that the super soft tyre would be around 5-6 seconds slower if it was used from the start of the race until half distance, which is why we did not see many long stints on this tyre.
Stats of the Day
Bridgestone Potenza Driver Tyre Strategies
Rd.1 Australian Grand Prix
In 2009, the tyre regulations stipulate that the two dry tyre specifications must be visibly
distinguishable from each other. At the Australian Grand Prix, the super soft compound Bridgestone Potenza tyres were marked with green bands on the sidewalls. The wet weather tyre was also marked with a green line in a groove.