Bridgestone opens the start to nine Formula One races in Europe with the hard and soft tyres at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Gran Premio de Espana Telefonica, at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, on May 8-10. The Spanish Grand Prix is the fifth round of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship and it takes place at a circuit that teams know very well because of the use of Barcelona as a test venue. The 4.66 km track layout features one long straight and a variety of different corners making set-up a compromise. The track is quite a harsh one for tyres which means the hard and soft compound allocation is used. Of particular note, the left front tyre is put under significant stress over a course of a lap. As with any circuit, the compromise between finding low drag for the straights and sufficient downforce for the corners is a challenge. Barcelonas numerous bends make for a greater focus on the corners and the high speeds attained here make for significant energy forces on the tyres. Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, said: What are the challenges of Barcelona? Barcelona has a track surface that is the middle range in terms of abrasion and roughness but durability and driver requirements mean our harder allocation combination is used. The front left tyre has a lot of work to do at this circuit and equally, teams and drivers will have a big challenge trying to gain an advantage here as they know this track so well. Many teams have tested their latest cars here in the pre-season, will this make a difference? Of course, the experience of the teams at this track with their current cars will assist them with set-up. However, the ambient and track temperatures are likely to be warmer than testing so this will have an affect. Generally, we see quite close lap times here and close races too. The circuit layout is well balanced so it is a good indicator of overall car balance. A car that performs in Barcelona has the potential to perform well at many places.