Did Bridgestone compromise McLaren?

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Istanbul, 2008, 470150

A mistake by Bridgestone, Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier, created additional problems for McLaren this weekend. Even before the race got underway the Japanese manufacturer was openly admitting it had brought the wrong choice of compounds.

It chose the same combination of medium and hard tyres it brought last year, despite the race being much earlier in the calendar this year and therefore held in cooler conditions. Hirohide Hamashima, the director of Bridgestone motorsport tyre development, said yesterday:

I think for next season maybe we have to shift the [compound] one position softer. It is about 10-15 degrees [C] lower than we expected, so especially the medium compound has some graining until about 10 laps, then it vanishes gradually.

Hamashima denied this had caused any problems for the teams:

We have checked the car data from every team, and so far we have seen no problems. Last year we found the small problem on the Friday, but now we are very happy and we don’t face any trouble.

But according to McLaren that was not the case. Ron Dennis said after the race:

There was some internal delamination which Bridgestone were very good at picking up. We didn’t want to have any tyre failure. It was possibly okay to run two stops, but it was a bit more severe on Lewis’ and we put drivers’ safety first.

Lewis Hamilton added:

The reason we went with the three stopper was that Bridgestone were concerned. They thought the tyre was going to fail like it did last year and they made us do a three-stop as it was the safest route to go. Unfortunately that put us in not such a strong position to win the race.

Were the two problems related? If they aren’t then why did Hamashina claim they hadn’t had any problems? (If Dennis is feeling particularly paranoid, he may point out that it is not his cars that appear in Bridgestone’s television adverts, but those of a certain leading rival.)

It’s not easy to say how far was this Bridgestone’s fault and how far was it McLaren’s, although Bridgestone clearly made a mistake in the first place by failing to appreciate how different the conditions would be in Istanbul in May instead of September.

The difference in driving styles between the two McLaren drivers further complicates the picture. Hamilton is much harder on his tyres than most drivers including team mate Heikki Kovalainen. At the same circuit last year he suffered a tyre de-lamination during the race.

According to Dennis and Hamilton, they opted for a three-stop strategy out of concerns over safety at Bridgestone’s insistence. Under similar circumstances at Interlagos last year McLaren stuck to a short-stint strategy out of concerns that the tyres would not last, and Hamilton potentially lost the world championship because of that decision.

McLaren still haven’t gotten to grips with the rubber supplied by Bridgestone, but the tyre supplier’s mistake this weekend didn’t help.

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51 comments on Did Bridgestone compromise McLaren?

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  1. Noel said on 11th May 2008, 15:30

    You note that the Maclaren is harder on its tyres than most, and Lewis especially. But everyone ran on the same combination of option and prime compound, didn’t they? Was anyone else’s race compromised by this error by Bridgestone? Why just Maclaren?

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th May 2008, 15:34

    So far only McLaren have said their strategy was dictated by Bridgestone, so the answer is I don’t know! Which is why the title of the post is a question…

  3. DanielPT said on 11th May 2008, 15:45

    Why the hell this happens with Mclaren only? And, even inside Mclaren, with Hamilton only? Because Hamilton goes hard in a car that already goes hard on the tires?

    Renault used to be the car built especially for Michelins and when Michelin backed out it was a major blow for them. Afterwards they went through several problems in adapting the cars to the new supplier, that, admitedly, aren’t yet fully solved. So they would be feeling bridgestone blunders more so than the others. Then, again, why this only happens with Mclaren?

    Maybe it is conspiration between that great evil force from hell (Ferrari), that only resorts to evil and illegal tactics, with another newly corrupted force. They needed a tire partner so they have corrupted an inocent supplier years ago to, when arriving at times like this, be able to count on this company to help them destroying the heavenly good (Mclaren). (Please note that this conspiracy was founded in 1995 when Ferrari sold their soul and joined forces with the devil himself. Today the devil has retired, but he continues to manouvre the destiny of F1 by controlling FIA, FOM and Ferrari from his house. Sitted on a confortable couch. At a fireplace. With his children playing around him…) :P

    (This is my contribution to the conspiration theories)

  4. Noel said on 11th May 2008, 15:46

    Heh, not picking fault, more posing further questions as your collective knowledge is far greater than mine :)

    I’m not sure many other cars ran three stops either… As the compounds are used across the field I’d have thought it would have affected everyone to similar proportions.

    I’ve been wrong a million times before though :)

  5. Rohan said on 11th May 2008, 15:47

    Seeing as it is only McLaren who seem to have a problem with the tyres, one has to lay the blame at their feet, and not at Bridgestone’s.

    Furthermore, the fact that the temperature was cooler, yet McLaren still had the problem on the same tyres as they used with the warmer temperatures last year, suggests they would have been even more screwed had Bridgestone brought softer tyres. This again means one has to point the finger at McLaren, and I think that implying otherwise is merely trouble-making.

  6. Rabi said on 11th May 2008, 15:59

    Case is clear cut and simple. Lewis is hard on the tyres, which is an open knowledge to everybody in F1. For Bridgestone to say that for him to do two stops is dangerous but ok for everyone else would lead me to believe that not only is Lewis too hard on the tyres but so is the McLaren car.

    In any case I find this sole supplier stuff worse than the tyre war purely because certain teams have had and still got a complete competitive advantage over others. Namely Ferrari, coincidence that a F1 tyre supplier would use only one team in their adverts? It’s a joke.

    To equalise all this crap someone needs to ban both Michelen and Bridgestone from the sport for 2 years and in the meantime get Goodyear to supply all the teams, then after 2 years allow open competition and for teams to get their own tyres from anyone.

  7. ninguen said on 11th May 2008, 16:03

    In the second stint raikkonen seemed to have graining problems as his lap times worsened considerably during some laps, so the problem was for everybody, but the rest of the teams could cope up with it, it was only mclaren who had that problem. The tyres are the same for everybody, if mclaren is the only team that degrades so much the tyres maybe their engineers are not working so well. For me it´s mclaren and most notably hamilton the ones to point, tey seem to no beeing able to develop enough speed without being too hard on the tyres

  8. auau said on 11th May 2008, 16:51

    We know that the tires are the same for everybody. But that being said Ferrari is the team running Bridgestone tires for the longest period of time, and that is a clear advantage. On top of that I believe this is only the second year Mclaren is back with Bridgestone, just like Renault.

    Despite all the problens for Mclaren with Bridgestone tires, Hamilton was still able to beat Haikkonen and would probably win the race had Him started on pole. That’s is not a big desavantage in my point of view.

    Go Mclaren!!!

  9. frecon said on 11th May 2008, 17:13

    De la Rosa comments the races for spanish TV, and at the end of the race said that Heiki had a two-stops strategy.

    He also said that without traffic three stop-strategy was only 4 sec slower than 2 stop strategy.

    I think in Mclaren were afraid of Hamilton’s last year incident. Hamilton usually drives blocking front wheels, and today it was a long distance to use just two sets of tyres.

    In the moments Ferraris and Mclaren had the same load, Ferrari was better. Only Raikkonen’s mistake at the first corner stop another Ferrari’s 1-2

  10. mail123456 said on 11th May 2008, 17:19

    From Bridgestone

    “We had the issue with Lewis last year at this race, brought about by turn eight specifically being anti-clockwise triple-apex with very high G-forces.

    “He had a specific problem last year, most noticeably, but several other drivers we noticed had internal tyre problems. Based on that, we changed the construction and strengthened it over the winter period and then brought those tyres to all the races this year.

    “In actual fact, nobody else has had a repetition of any of those problems this year, with the exception of Lewis. He is the one driver who perhaps with his style of driving has put higher forces onto his front right tyre.”

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th May 2008, 17:22

    Thanks for that Mail but in future please don’t post entire sections of other people’s articles or I’ll get sued for copyright infringement. I’ve edited your comment accordingly.

    Interesting then that they knew about the problem but tried to fix it and it re-occured.

  12. cyanide said on 11th May 2008, 17:24

    Whoa, whatever DanielPT is smoking, I want some of it!

  13. mail123456 said on 11th May 2008, 17:27

    @Keith Collantine
    sorry for that …

  14. the question in your title is wrong, you should be asking:

    “Did Bridgestone compromise Lewis?”

    because kovi in the other macca was fine. and every other driver on the grid was fine.

    i think we also have the answer to the questions posed last year about why alonso didn’t have the same problem. in fact i’d go even further and say we learned an awful *lot* today.

    for the first time in a long time, i actually appreciate the single tyre supplier ruling.

  15. Sush said on 11th May 2008, 17:45

    its a load bearing issue, Senna – Rosberg and mansell used to have the same problem.

    Hekkie seemed fine, and last year Alonso was fine too, but Hamilton had the same problem…..

    i’m shocked Kubica doesn’t get the same problem

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