Tyres strategy is one of the biggest challenges for teams during the Formula One season.
Hirohide Hamashima, director of motorsport tyres development for Bridgestone, has revealed how key decisions regarding the new slick tyres are taken.
With the re-introduction of slick tyres this season, Bridgestone has worked to present more of a challenge for the teams.
“The move back to slick tyres has allowed us more scope for a greater difference between the tyres,” explains Hamashima. “This year’s tyre has around 20% more contact patch and 15% more grip than last year’s, as well as the inherent greater consistency of a slick which doesn’t have the raised tread areas of a grooved tyre.”
The idea was therefore to create different tyre compounds with performance gaps wider than in previous years, forcing drivers to adjust their approach during races as they switched from one tyre option to the other.
“This means we are able to develop tyres to the allocation philosophy of having one at a race which is softer, and one which is harder – which is the same as we did for the previous two seasons, but also giving the softer tyre a lower temperature working range, and the harder one a higher temperature working range.”
As both tyre types offered have to be used during a Grand Prix, the best compromise set-up from the cars to harness the qualities of both the hard and soft compounds in the most competitive manner must be found.
“It is one of the biggest challenges for competitors over the season,” states Hamashima.
Only four races into the season, the differences between both available tyre compounds has already been clearly demonstrated: some drivers gaining ground suddenly began to lose pace after switching tyre types, and vice versa.
The wider performance gap therefore makes for another crucial variable added to the ever-changing tyre choice and set-up equation.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team