Bridgestone, Formula One’s sole tyre supplier, has today confirmed how they will differentiate between the two compounds of rubber used at each grand prix this year. In previous seasons when the cars ran on grooved tyres, a white stripe was painted inside one of the indentations to mark the softer of the two. However, with the sport returning to slick tyres for 2009, the groove has disappeared and an alternative solution had to be found. Bridgestone have opted to use a stripe on the sidewall of the tyre. Unfortunately, it’s green.
So why green, I hear all the sport’s new fans ask? The choice of colour stems from the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix when Bridgestone ran a joint-initiative with the sport’s governing body, the FIA, to promote the “Make Cars Green” campaign. The idea behind the promotion was to promote environmentally friendly driving. For this race, all the Bridgestone tyres had all the grooves painted green, with the softer compound having one of the green grooves changed to white.
The cars looked very odd with bright green lines all over the usually dark rubber and the white stripe was almost impossible to identify next to the green and ultimately, the idea of promoting environmentally sound driving on a Formula One car was deemed a bit silly by most.
2008 Bridgestone Tyres – As used for the Japanese Grand Prix.
While no word has yet been mentioned if the green stripe on the sidewall of the new slicks is in further attempts to promote the cause, the fact the colour has so far been identical strongly suggests that we are all going to be seeing more of the environmental message this year.
Although the promotion of such a campaign is worthwhile, it would perhaps be better to see the FIA plow money into TV advertising, educational supplements in newspapers and maybe visiting colleges around the country where the students are of the age where they are beginning to learn how to drive, and are also of the age where they are more likely to be involved in a car accident because of over-zealous and un-environmentally friendly driving.
Irregardless of my thoughts though, the stripe appears to be staying. Also, Bridgestone have announced that the choice of available compounds will be altered. In 2008, the two options were consecutive in Bridgestone’s range. For example, the drivers had to use both soft and super-soft. However, for 2009 the options could be staggered to create even more of a difference between the compounds, and therefore the stints in the races. Depending on the circuit, the drivers may have use, for example, soft and hard, or super-soft and medium.
From our perspective we have changed our allocation strategy so that we can bring non-consecutive allocations to races.
The compounds will not only vary in terms of compound hardness, but also working range. We have tried to have one tyre which has a quick warm-up and delivers a fast lap time immediately, and the other tyre which has a higher working range, so will not deliver immediate fast times, but gives very consistent and durable performance when it is at its operating temperature.
Of course, we are subject to many variables such as different cars and drivers, not to mention the weather, which was such a big factor in 2008.
We hope that the change in allocations gives competitors a good challenge and the fans entertaining racing. Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Director of Motor Sport.
The idea sounds okay on paper, but I will admit to it sounding a little like a lottery. I’m sure Bridgestone, with all their experience from supplying Formula One for many years will have a very good idea as to what they need to bring to the races. However, tyre suppliers have got it wrong the past and caused all sorts of problems. Let’s hope the addition of a wider range of tyre compound does indeed improve the racing even further.
So far, Bridgestone have announced the following compounds will be used at the first five races:
2009 Formula One World Championship Calendar
|Race||Compound #1||Compound #2|
|Australian Grand Prix Albert Park||Super Soft||Medium|
|Malaysian Grand Prix Sepang||Soft||Hard|
|China Grand Prix Shanghai||Super Soft||Medium|
|Bahrain Grand Prix Sakhir||Super Soft||Medium|
|Spanish Grand Prix Circuit de Catalunya||Soft||Hard|
More information available on the Bridgestone F1 site.
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