By Alex Kapadia
The new 2009-spec slick tyres have thrown Bridgestone another problem to solve as the Grand Prix season speeds to the starting line.
Bridgestone is assessing whether the new wet tyres it has developed for this year’s Monaco Grand Prix can be used at other venues to give the 2009-spec tyres more grip in the rain.
The downforce levels have been drastically cut back on the new-spec cars in a bid to increase overtaking opportunities, although some of the grip lost under braking has been offset by the return of slick tyres as the rubber has a bigger contact patch with the track.
However, with the same pecification wet and extreme wet tyres being used as last year drivers have reported that the reduction in downforce has made it harder to drive during the many rain-hit days or pre-season.
Bridgestone’s technical manager Tetsuro Kobayashi admits the only planned change to the existing wet rubber will be in Monte Carlo, where it always develops a different compound due to the street circuit’s smooth track surface.
But he says the Japanese firm is looking into whether the Monoco-spec tyres – tested for the first time at Jerez this week – can also be raced on faster, more demanding tracks.