Tag Archives: tyres

Hot and dry conditions for Bahrain, which will affect tyre choices

The Bahrain International Circuit

The Bahrain International Circuit

As the Formula 1 teams make their annual pilgrimage to Bahrain, it is no surprise to see that dry and hot conditions are being forecast for the weekend.

Since Bahrain first hosted a Grand Prix in 2004, conditions have always been perfectly dry, but often too hot. This year, temperatures are forecast at around 35°C, with a southerly wind speed of 8-9kph. This wind speed will help speed the cars up slightly on the straight.

As we all know from last year, temperatures play a critical role in tyre managment. This year, it is even more important, as tyres will wear more heavily at the first stints compared to the last, due to the heavier fuel loads. Therefore, very hot temperatures mean that the teams may use the harder compound more.

As the same as last year, Bridgestone are supplying super-soft and medium compund tyres. Last year, we saw the Toyotas completely fall apart when they took on the medium tyres in the middle stint, so the super-softs will still probably be the optimum tyres. You may be right to say that the teams would want to put on the super-softs for the first 1 or 2 stints, then change to the mediums. But, the high temperatures combined with an extremely heavy fuel load will result in massive amounts of tyre wear, which is most noticable in the super-soft tyres.

Since there are large problems with both sets of tyres, and not much time to test them, get ready for some seriously strange strategies in Bahrain.

Michelin discussing return to F1

Michelin F1 tyres

Michelin F1 tyres

Tyre maker Michelin is in “formal discussions” with the FIA, concerning a possible return to Formula 1 for the company. The French team had previously supplied tyres in F1 from 2001 to 2006.

With Bridgestone announcing that this will be their last year in F1, the FIA are on the lookout for a new tyre supplier. It is rumoured that Yokohama and Avon were looking at the possibility, but these rumours appear to be unfounded.

According to Bloomberg, Managing Partner for Michelin Jean-Dominique Senard said:

“We might consider returning but there are some very clear conditions. The major point is to make sure the tyres show what they can bring to the automotive industry.”

It is understood that Michelin’s conditions are relating to environmentally friendly products. The company’s new direction appears to be in protecting the environment with their tyres. So, if Michelin could produce an F1 tyre that lasted a full race distance, and maybe the materials could be recovered afterwards, it would be a great image for the company.

Of course, when many think of Michelin, they think of Indianapolis 2005. I don’t blame these people, it was a disgrace, but I believe that it would be good to see them back, as long as they bring something innovative to the sport.

The one tyre that nearly single-handedly threw them out of the sport... Ralf Schumacher's tyre at Indianapolis 2005

The one tyre that nearly single-handedly threw them out of the sport... Ralf Schumacher's tyre at Indianapolis 2005

Tyre compounds announced for first 3 races

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

F1 tyre supplier Bridgestone has announced their tyre compund allocations for the first 3 races of this year: Bahrain, Australia and Malaysia.

Circuit 2010 tyres 2009 tyres
Bahrain Medium / Super Soft Medium / Super Soft
Albert Park Hard / Soft Medium / Super Soft
Sepang Hard / Soft Hard / Soft

The compounds are one harder than last year for Australia. Last, year, they used the super-soft and medium, but the drivers complained that the super-soft tyre gave too much grip and wore out too quickly. This year, the soft and hard compounds are being used.

The same tyre types are being retained for the Bahrain and Malaysian races.

However, I am still annoyed to see the gaps in between the tyre compounds this year. We saw what happened at Melbourne last year: one wore out too quickly, while the other gave no grip. Of course, this stupid rule is to “improve the show”, as is absolutely every other rule introduced in the last few years.

This year, the drivers will have six sets of the harder (prime) tyres and five sets of the softer (option) tyres available to them for each race, while last year they had seven of each compound.

Heavier car “like a bus”: Liuzzi

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi has spoken about the effects of driving a car which is fully leaden with fuel, because of the refuelling ban.

He claimed that the difference between low and heavy fuel loads were “like a Lotus Elise and a bus!” He said:

“When it’s full of fuel everything’s lazier – the steering, the brakes, changing direction. It was very hard to drive it in the wet with a full fuel load.”

“It will be more challenging for the teams and the drivers – and good for the show.”

“It’s a drastic change. The drivers will have to take care of their cars more this year. There will have to be more communication between the driver and team. But I like having more things to handle like that.”

This year, we will see a huge variant in driving across the race. Tyres, brakes and engines will now have to be managed differently now, because of the lack of refuelling.

Force India’s design director, Mark Smith, said that the teams will have to use harder brake materials this year, to cope with the higher pressure of having to stop a heavier car throughout the race. However, it will be difficult, as maximum brake sizes remain the same as last year.

New rule changes approved by F1 commission

The new rule changes to F1, such as the new points system, the top ten finishers keeping their tyres into the race, less tyres per weekend, and a ban on double-decker diffusers, have been accepted by the F1 commission.

The most important rule change is that to the points system. The new layout is as follows:

1st – 25 points
2nd – 18 points
3rd – 15 points
4th – 12 points
5th – 10 points
6th – 8 points
7th – 6 points
8th – 4 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point

The main change is that to the difference between 1st and 2nd. There is now 7 points between them, instead of 5. This is to encourage drivers to try to go for the lead more. It seems to be a good change, compared to the old one.

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Another change is that to the Q3 qualifyers’ tyres. Now, the top ten qualifyers will be forced to keep their tyres into the race. This means that there will be a mix of drivers on the hard and soft tyres in the top ten.

I have said already that this is a bad decicion. We were about to see pure qualifying, for the first time in a long while, but that’s out the window now. You can read more about this on my older post.

Next up is the reduction in the use of tyres over a weekend. Last year, each car was allocated 14 sets of slick tyres to use over the entire weekend. This year, there will only be 11 sets of tyres per driver.

Not only that, but 1 set will have to be returned to the FIA on first Friday practice, and 2 sets on second Friday practice. This will leave 8 sets for Saturday practice, qualifying, and the race. This rule is intended to encourage more running in the Friday practice sessions.

Not a bad idea this one, as it will bring more racing on Fridays. Not only this, but Bridgestone will have their costs hugely reduced. Maybe this is an idea to keep them in F1 after 2010.

Overall, apart from the Q3 tyre rule, these seem to be good changes. Hopefully it can bring better racing without ruining the sport itself.

The full statement from the FIA is available here.

Why don’t they just leave the rules alone?

This time in 2009, Bernie Ecclestone unveiled his new idea for F1: the medal system. Cue outrage around the world. The idea was dropped two weeks before the season opener in Melbourne, but the controversy over it never really left. This stupid idea from Ecclestone was eventually left alone, but still revealed the Achilles heel of Formula 1: inconcistency.

At no point over the last decade have the rules and regulations been left alone for a long period of time. So many pointless changes, like the horrificly awful qualifying format for 2005 and the difference in tyre compunds in 2009 show how Formula 1 never learns.

At the moment, we are inundated with F1 leaders talking about “improving the show”. What’s this all about? Formula 1 isn’t a show, it’s a sport. In 2009, we saw one of the biggest overhaul of the technical regulations in recent history, to improve overtaking, which, after all the mad changes we saw, failed. This year, the F1 teams want to force the top ten qualifyers to keep their tyres into the race. They say that this will create a mix-up in the field. The crucial word in that last sentence was “create”.

Great racing isn’t created by constantly fiddling with the rules until it happens. Unfortunately,  everyone in FOTA, the FIA, Overtaking Working Group, and Technical Working Group seems to think it works. This means that, for years, we will be seeing more and more rule changes, to try and create artificial racing.

Just look at the tyre compounds at the start of 2009 for example. Here, Bridgestone decided to have one compound in between the ones they would be using each weekend (eg super-soft and medium, soft and hard). Since both compounds had to be used in a race, it would mean a huge difference in performance over stints. In Australia, we saw the super-softs disintegrate after 8 laps, and the medium tyres struggle to get heat into the rubber. What we ended up with was lots of action, as the field was constantly struggling with the tyres. Then, near the end, the inevitable happened: Vettel, who was struggling for grip, crashed into Kubica, and took them both out.

This is not only unpure racing, it’s just dangerous. It took Bridgestone nearly half the season to get the message, and finally reverted to the old tyre compound procedure. But, even though its gone, it simply guarantees my thoughts that these sort of rule changes are terrible for the sport.

Of course, the leaders of our sport never learn. So, for 2010, let’s go back to the Q3 “same tyre for race” rule. It hasn’t been approved yet, but almost certainly will be. This means that we will see a mix up in the grid, between drivers who go slower on more consistent tyres, or drivers who go quicker on fast-wearing tyres.

Isn’t this what we just banned with the refuelling ban? We wanted an end to seeing light-fuelled cars on pole, and the faster cars penned back because of a heavy fuel load. So what the hell is the point of ditching that, and introducing something which will end up exactly the same?

At the end of it all, it simply makes no sense. Maybe it’s too early to complain about the tyre rule changes, but seeing how other changes have gone down, I’m not confident. However, at some point, the Overtaking Working Group will get their wish. We will see a season filled with overtaking, action and incidents. The tv audience will be glued to their seats. And it will be hollow, because we will have artificially ruined Formula 1.

New constructions and compounds for tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone have announced that they are to introduce new constructions and compound of their tyres this year, mainly to the refuelling ban meaning heavier cars.

Also, the green stripe on the soft and extreme wet tyres are to remain. This is to support the FIA’s Make Cars Green campaign.

The chief engineer at Bridgestone Motorsport, Jun Matsuzaki, said:

“All compounds have changed from last year based on the feedback and data we gained last season as well as the rule changes for this season. The tyres are designed to be more durable for this season due to the heavier cars and different strategy options because of no more refuelling.”

Bridgestone are to leave F1 at the end of 2010.

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