Did Bridgestone compromise McLaren?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

51 comments on “Did Bridgestone compromise McLaren?”

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  1. “Just more BS from Ron & Lewis.”

    Thank you William Wilgus, you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth.

  2. The ultimate proof is that nobody complained but the “Trouble Trio”…

  3. Sri, different customers have have different needs and for that matter I stick to my point in saying that you just can’t blame Hamilton for his driving style. You sure can’t deny he’s good. If he thinks a different tyre structure might make his day a lot less stressful, then, why not. The problem is he can’t choose who that tyre supplier should be.
    Ponzonha, keep your beef.I think we had the “hate Hamilton” discussion earlie. Surely you’d have had your fair say?

  4. I agree completely Kanyima that different customers have different needs. Now i do not mean to offend you(My apologies in advance if this hurts). However, there’s no getting away with what i said about tyre usage(Alionora La Canta or Keith can verify the truth in what i stated). We have one tyre supplier and only one driver uses the tyres more than others(definitely a nominee for understatement of the year award), including his team mate. If a team isn’t able to make its tyres last, after a good 18 months of dealing with this rule, then they need their engineering looked into. Also, Ferrari were affected adversely last year by Bridgestone changing their compounds at the last minute. Much after Ferrari had designed their 07 car around the originally specced tyre. Need i remind you, that they were winning as soon as the season began? What do you think will happen if the tyres were more durable? Don’t you think that others will also lean on their tyres for that extra speed? Duly note the point that i made about Alonso as well, that he indeed was managing to have a better tyre performance cycle. There’s clearly some homework to be done(as i pointed out in the earlier post) by the team Macca and one of its drivers on their long runs. No rocket science.

    Macca is a team with great history. I respect what they achieved. However, of late there’s been too much hokey-pokey going around than racing itself. About time that they got around to it. They have all the resources and more importantly, NO EXCUSES. Then again, good ol’ Ron could prove me wrong.

  5. Kanyima, sorry dude, but no…. its not down to the tyre supplier to change, its down to the driver to make advantage of what he has.

    you don’t get Accountants moaning about Sage or SAT so why should a racer moan about changing the manufacturer of tyres?

  6. Sri, I see your sympathy for Macca and the point you are trying to make. Having read your comments in “The most hated person in F1”, I don’t think you need to press it but you can’t deny the fact that leaning on tyres on not, LH really knows how to do his homework.

    Show me any rookie who has emerged with a record like his.

    I like greatness described as “It’s not how long you stay up but how often you get up when you are down”. Only a couple of bad races after winning in Melbourne, he was spat at by the haters. He then promised a podium at every race since Bahrain and so far he has delivered. Look at today’s performance for reference. Credit should be given where it’s due and I think no matter how much you “deslike” a driver, you shouldn’t be entirely blind to his achievements.

  7. Sush, yes you do get accountants moaning about programs if they don’t deliver to expectations and good ones will have their employers change them. The difference with F1 is that they are not limited to only one supplier by regulations. Yeah, I’m all for different suppliers for different teams.

  8. Kanyima, the ones that moan don’t get far.
    Ralf moaned, and he got all the way from Toyota to the DTM.

    poor workman always blame they’re fools.

  9. I meant TOOLS not Fools.

    stupid keyboard.

  10. I know one who did one better. JV. He won as many races as Lewis did in his rookie year(’96) and more than a decade ago. He only lost title owing to a mechanical failure in the last race (so Hill lapped up the championship). JV also won the championship in the following year. Something that you can’t say about Lewis(not just as yet), can you?. Lewis needed to just finish in the position that he started in the Brazilian Grand Prix of 07. I bet you blame Alonso for not letting him past, do you? Need i remind of what happened in Shanghai? To be very polite, i’d call that a momentary lapse of reason on Lewis’ part. Also, just look up the facts mate. Kovi qualified better than Lewis(for today’s race), inspite of being on a heavier fuel load(2-3 laps more at the very least). What do you think was making Kovi faster and slowing Lewis? Lewis has stated a couple of times that he is de-facto number 1 in team Macca. So i don’t really think Kovi’s got the car advantage.

    ‘Am not entirely blind to his achievements. I’ve always said he is fast. However, bloopers i wouldn’t ignore, to which you turn a blind eye to. Hope this helps.

    Confession: Yes, i do hate the way he is portrayed to be saviour of Grand Prix racing. Not taking away anything from the fact that he is talented. However, it is downright silly that the kid bought into it. He has a long way to go and if he gets his head around to it, perhaps a very successful future to look forward to.

  11. This feels like a problem with Hamilton’s driving style more than anything. If Kovalainen’s (fairly standard) style works in the same car and the drivers get equal equipment, then McLaren is not to blame. The fact that no other team had problems (not even Alonso at Renault) implies that it wasn’t a systematic tyre issue either. The 1-second-per-lap reinforces this, since it implies that Lewis was harder on his tyres at precisely the point where he was 1-second-per-lap faster and therefore wearing them out quicker.

    The spec tyre should suit as many styles as possible, but then it is up to the teams to make sure their cars are compatible and then it is down to the drivers to make sure their driving styles are compatible with their car/tyre combinations.

  12. Thank you Alianora!

  13. Hi there Alianora, Keith. Am a newbie and have been following this page since last year only. Now, would you mind giving some background info on yourself mate(Could you mail me Keith about yourself Keith?)? In case you chose to mail me, my id is: garagetinkerer@gmail.com. People damn sure as hell swear by what you guys have to say(mighty impressive, if i could tell you).

  14. Its a level playing field now. there should be no complaints…….someone give mclaren a tissue!

  15. Ron and Lewis should learn from Ferrari. During 2005, Schumacher and Ferrari lapped up the only victory in Indianapolis. They were not exactly bad mouthing the tyre supplier(Bridgestone), though we know that was the only problem, in all likeliness. You wonder why Macca doesn’t have a good relationship with suppliers? They have on record mouthed off against engine suppliers Mercedes more than once in the past. Also, add Bridgestone to that list. There definitely will be more(which we know or don’t know of). Merely calling them partners(suppliers and sponsors) does not make your issues/problems go away. It is about PR. They need to get some assistance on that front.

  16. “Bridgestone compromised Mclaren”

    On the other hand, Bridgestone helped Mclaren. by giving Lewis a quicker 3 stop strategy.
    Lewis has always done well on a 3-stopper.(Brazil 2007, he went from 18th to 7th inspite of pitting one extra time). In France 2007, He managed 3rd on a day Ferrari were light years ahead, inspite of a 3-stopper. Lewis enjoyes pushing his tryes harder.

    Also, he was helped by the fact that Ferrari made a wrong tyre choice. Felip himself said Hard was much betetr than softs

  17. Sumedh, the three stopper definitely didn’t help Hamilton in Interlagos. Analysis after the race showed he would probably have finished fifth on a two-stopper, again assuming his tyres would have lasted,.

  18. I think that the question should be Bridgestone favours Ferrari?.

    It is clear that when all the teams changed to one team supplier they struggled with it (Could you imagine if the tyres supplier was Michelin?), well everyone except McLaren (anything to be with the more 700 pages dossier?. Remember Briatore asking loudly how they manage to adapt that quickly) and of course Ferrari. Still the teams are trying to adapt to the tyres, although most of them are getting in it.
    What it is clear to me is that the WCC in 05 and 06 fell to nowhere after changing tyres, and that such dramatic change did not help them but Ferrari and his subsidiary team in 07.

  19. Santiago, Ferrari suffered last year, believe it or not and the one who inflicted on them was Bridgestone. Much after their new car was designed, Bridgestone at the beginning of the year came up with new compounds. Ferrari also tested them along with the rest of the teams(Remember now there’s a testing cap). I think i’d call that reasonably fair to all teams.

    Though i’d not deny that Ferrari have a large pool of data from earlier Bridgestone days. However, let me assure you that with new compounds not much useful. That will not have had given them any competitive edge, with information on tyre-wear etc. of new compounds, which were yet to be tested at the beginning of ’07. F1 is a very competitive sport. You rest for a minute and suddenly your opponents are 2 tenths a lap faster than you. Such is life.

    You’re right about Briatore. He did question Mclaren’s sudden spurt in speed. Half a second per lap in 2 weeks is indeed a big deal(i think it was sometime after Malaysian Grand Prix that he aired his views).

  20. Sri, this years compounds are “apparently” identical to the 2003 spec bridgestone.

    its one of the Massa haters reason’s for berating him, thats when he tested continuously for them.

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