Bridgestone Potenza intermediate and wet tyres made their first race appearance of 2009 as severe rain fell on the Sepang circuit after a dry race start with everyone on the soft compound dry tyre, causing the Malaysian Grand Prix to be stopped after 32 laps, with Jenson Button awarded the win.
Black clouds provided a backdrop to the start of the race, but it was Bridgestones black rubber which provided the crucial performance variable. Once the rain started, the water levels on track changed lap by lap making it very difficult for competitors to choose whether the dry slick, intermediate or wet tyre should be used, and the best tyre for the conditions changed frequently.
As the race was stopped before three-quarter distance, only half points will be awarded. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) took second and Timo Glock (Panasonic Toyota Racing) finished third.
Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
How was the race from Bridgestones perspective?
This was a very interesting race, even before the rain started. Everyone started on the soft tyre. The soft gave good consistent performance in the conditions we saw today and there would have been good strategy options had the weather remained dry Starting on the soft was a sensible move as the soft has a lower working range than the hard, so when the rain started it delivered better performance than the hard would have done, before the wet tyres became necessary.
How important was tyre strategy?
Choosing the correct tyre at the correct time is absolutely crucial and we saw many illustrations of how beneficial it is to make the right choice. Once the rain started there was a window where the intermediate tyre was the best one to use, as shown by Timo Glock who was up to ten seconds faster than the other cars. Some drivers used the wet tyre too early, and suffered in the too dry conditions.
However, once the rain became harder the wet tyre was the correct tyre for conditions. Unfortunately, the rain then became so hard that it was too wet for Formula One cars.
Stats of the Day
Bridgestone Potenza Driver Tyre Strategies
Rd.2 Malaysian Grand Prix
In 2009, the tyre regulations stipulate that the two dry tyre specifications must be visibly
distinguishable from each other. At the Malaysian Grand Prix, the 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.