Chinese Grand Prix: Bridgestone Motorsport’s Friday Update

Bridgestone’s super soft tyre proved to be the fastest rubber on track at Shanghai for the first day of the Chinese Grand Prix. Jenson Button’s Brawn set the day’s fastest lap time in the afternoon practice session held in sunny weather conditions. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton used the hard compound to go fastest in the morning session. The 5.45 km Shanghai circuit provided a challenge for competitors still mastering the 2009 specification cars and Bridgestone’s latest slick tyres and new tyre allocations. Today was the first time that Bridgestone’s super soft compound tyre has been used at Shanghai. The track surface delivered a lot less grip than seen in 2008’s Friday practice session when there was already Bridgestone race rubber laid on the track as a GP2 Asia Series test took place in the week prior to the Grand Prix.   Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development What was significant about today’s running? “Today the circuit surface delivered very little grip initially in the first practice, but this improved and the track was better in the afternoon. As we would expect on a Friday, we saw graining, but the amount of graining varied across the teams. Of particular note, the tyre appearance of the Brawn and Toyota cars was very beautiful and even, meaning they appear to be using their tyres well, but some other teams are still finding the best set-ups. In the second session we saw both tyres used and the performance of the super soft in terms of degradation was not as bad as in Australia.”   Is the Super Soft tyre correct for Shanghai and how are the tyre allocations decided for races? “We decide the allocations for the races based on many factors including past experience, test information and feedback from the teams. All teams have a dedicated Bridgestone engineer who works with the drivers and team engineers so we have constant information regarding any tyre issues. The teams are made aware of our allocations for races many weeks in advance, so there is plenty of time for feedback. For 2009 we are making a bigger difference between the two compounds and this is in response to requests for this from the FIA and the teams. This gives more of a challenge for the races, and of course any change brings many opinions. Here we have the medium tyre, which should be a strong race tyre, and the super soft, which will require good tyre management in terms of car set-up and driving style. Of course, we saw different approaches to using the super soft tyre in Australia, with some approaches working much better than others, so it will be interesting to see competitors rise to the challenge here in Shanghai.”

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