By Alex Kapadia
Bridgestone defended its decision to bring super soft tyres to the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend, despite heavy criticism from some of the Formula 1 drivers.
Hirohide Hamashima, its director of motorsport tyre development, said the teams are getting to grips with the tyres after problems in the first race of the season when the tyres disintegrated in Melbourne.
Brawn GP ace Jenson Button set the day’s fastest lap time of the day on the super-soft car tyres during the afternoon practise session on the Shanghai track.
While McLaren’s reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton used the hard compound to go fastest in the morning session.
Mr Hamashima said: “Of particular note, the tyre appearance of the Brawn and Toyota cars was very beautiful and even, meaning they appear to be using their tyres well, but some other teams are still finding the best set-ups.
“In the second session we saw both tyres used and the performance of the super soft in terms of degradation was not as bad as in Australia.”
He added: “We decide the allocations for the races based on many factors including past experience, test information and feedback from the teams.
“All teams have a dedicated Bridgestone engineer who works with the drivers and team engineers so we have constant information regarding any tyre issues.
“The teams are made aware of our allocations for races many weeks in advance, so there is plenty of time for feedback.
“For 2009 we are making a bigger difference between the two compounds and this is in response to requests for this from the FIA and the teams. This gives more of a challenge for the races, and of course any change brings many opinions.
“Here we have the medium tyre, which should be a strong race tyre, and the super soft, which will require good tyre management in terms of car set-up and driving style.
“Of course, we saw different approaches to using the super soft tyre in Australia, with some approaches working much better than others, so it will be interesting to see competitors rise to the challenge here in Shanghai.”
A few days ago, Renault driver Fernando Alonso lashed out at the super soft tyre choice for Shanghai and branded it ‘ridiculous’.