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Bridgestone make all the difference

By Bigpip
July 9 2002

Bridgestone Makes The Difference.
Whilst watching the British Grand Prix on Sunday, the importance of the correct tyre choice was made totally obvious.  Michael Schumacher was able at one point to lap three seconds faster that arch rival Juan Pablo Montoya. 

So what was it that made the difference?  Engine power certainly but the choice of which piece of rubber actually ends up transmitting that power from the engine is more crucial given the changing conditions on the day. 

We asked Jordan and Bridgestone about their tyres and the differences they can make to performance on the day.

With thanks to Helen Temple at Jordan and Sarah French at Bridgestone

How many tyre choices are available to the team prior to race day?
The regulations allow us to take 2 specifications of dry weather (grooved) tyre and 3 rain tyres. The specs are exactly the same for Jordan as they are for all Bridgestone's 5 teams.
What factors will influence the choice of tyre for qualifying and the race?
First, Bridgestone decides which specs will be taken to each race and, of course, this choice is made for the particular type of circuit and weather conditions that we can expect, so the teams can be assured that both specs are suitable. During Friday practice, they will usually run back-to-back laps to compare the 2 dry specs. One of the main factors that influences that decision is lap time - basically, they are looking for the quicker tyre. But they are also looking for a consistent performance throughout the race and a tyre that will not suffer too much degradation. Finally, a particular driver may simply feel more comfortable with one spec over the other. The spec that is run in qualifying must be used in the race as well.
What is the difference between hard and soft tyres in terms of performance?
Generally speaking, a softer compound tyre will give more grip and therefore be faster but may wear more rapidly; a harder compound may have better heat durability and degrade less.
How much grip is lost between the older slick and the grooved tyre?
This is difficult to estimate but in a comparison between lap times when slicks were used in 1997 and last year's lap times on grooved tyres, we can see that grooved tyres are faster at a number of circuits. Of course, this isn't all down to tyres - it's engine, chassis and aerodynamic developments as well. In short, it seems that current grooved tyres have almost the same or even better grip levels than 97 slicks. However, new slicks made now and run on the new cars would probably reduce lap times by a further 1.5 seconds.
Are the aerodynamics of the car affected by having the tyres not surrounded by bodywork (as opposed to a road car for example)?
 It's hard to say because we have no experience of this in F1 to be able to compare. However, Bridgestone does make its tyres to assist with the aerodynamics of the car. You may have noticed that Bridgestone's F1 tyres have more rounded shoulders compared to our competitor whose tyres are more 'square'. McLaren, in particular, have apparently noticed the difference aerodynamically in their car having changed from our tyres to our competitor's this year.
What is the cost of a set of tyres for the EJ12?
The cost of a set of Bridgestone Formula 1 tyres is estimated at £3,000. I can't tell you what it costs Jordan however!
What happens to a tyre after use?
They are all returned to Bridgestone Motorsport's HQ at Langley, Berkshire, then transported by road to a power station in the North West to be burnt as fuel. A sample is also sent to Japan for analysis at our technical centre in Tokyo.
How does an F1 tyre differ from the tyres for my car?
This is the speccy techie bit!

Formula 1 tyres

Road car tyres

Size: 265/55 R13 (front);
325/55 R13 (rear)

Note: the first figure relates to the width of the tyre when facing the car, the second figure is the diameter of the tyre, the R figure is the bead (rim) radius).

Size: 195/65 R15
Example: Bridgestone Turanza

Weight: 9kg for a front, 11kg for a rear

Weight: 10-11kg

Pressure: 17-21 psi

Pressure: 28-34 psi

Longevity: maximum 200km

Longevity: 35,000km on average
Note: depends on type of car, style of driving, road surface etc.

Compound: generally much softer to give better grip at higher speed

Compound: durability is more important so tyre lasts longer and is suitable for most conditions

Construction: the parts that go into a tyre’s construction – carcass, bead, tread etc – are the same, but their make-up and design is different due to the different functions they must fulfill

Construction: see left

Pattern: dry tyres have 4 grooves arranged symmetrically across the tyre

Pattern: much more complex pattern for dry and wet conditions

Preparation: tyres are heated in blankets to 90C before running

Preparation: no heating before use; the design and compound are different to compensate for starting cold

Function: specific tyres for dry, damp and wet conditions

Function: one tyre for all conditions; in addition comfort, noise and economy are taken into account

Cost: about £3,000 per set of 4

Cost: approximately £200 for 4

Production: Bridgestone makes 50,000 Formula 1 tyres at its Tokyo technical centre

Production: Bridgestone makes millions of road car tyres at 45 factories in many different countries across four continents

Market share: in Formula 1, Bridgestone supplies five out of 11 teams

Market share: latest figures (2000) show Bridgestone is the world’s biggest tyre manufacturer with 19.8 per cent of the world market

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