Slick tyres are on track for a smooth re-entry into the world of Formula One for the first time in 12 years, Bridgestone has revealed.
Bridgestone are confident degradation problems the teams suffered during early testing of the tyres will be resolved before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.
Slick tyres will be replacing the grooved tyres which had been a feature of Formula One racing since 1998. However, there were complaints during tests held at the Jerez circuit in Spain last month that the new rear tyres suffer from severe degradation due to increased oversteer.
But now, Bridgestone’s motorsport chief engineer Jun Matsuzaki has revealed that the problem was more a matter of drivers and teams having to adapt.
“It is still early days for the teams working on their understanding of the slick tyres and the aerodynamic regulations, so we would expect improvements in all areas of how teams use their tyres,” he said.
Matsuzaki explained: “Jerez’s circuit layout is one which is harsh on the rear tyres. Also, Jerez in December is colder than we will see during the season, so there was graining on the rear tyres and this led to greater degradation than we would see in warmer weather.
“Tyre dimension is a factor, but tyre compound and construction play a big part too. The construction of the rear tyres was upgraded for the move to slicks to maintain the balance of fronts and rears.
“The balance of the grip created by tyres is still a little on the oversteer side, but this is something which will be countered by car set-up as teams learn how best to use these tyres.”
Bridgestone continue as the sole tyre supplier for all the Formula One teams this season, which means as well as developing the new slick tyres, they must strive for consistency. The tyres for all teams come from the same batch in order to minimize the risk of any team gaining an unfair advantage.