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?

  1. Brar Soler said on 11th May 2008, 17:50

    Hamilton have a notorious style. In The first “S” he goes on second leg with right wheel in the air while Kova didn´t (and everybody else I think). He fries the front tyres very often.

    And the famous “8” curve put higher force on the right front wheel. He is a fast driver(or the faster).

    Add that to the Bridgestone statment “mail123456″…

  2. Kanyima said on 11th May 2008, 18:03

    If LH’s driving style or any other’s for that matter makes him go hard on tyres, then in all respect the tyre company should take it upon themselves to resolve the problem or lose their supplier privilege. Different team supplier choice makes a lot of sense to me. All we need to see is great driving on the circuit and less mechanical misadventures.

  3. Euna said on 11th May 2008, 18:08

    I don’t think it’s down to Bridgestone at all. Obviously to me it’s a Hamilton and Mclaren first because others don’t get a similar problem.

    About Bridgestone mistake, it’s quite contradictory, if the medium grains quicky and the hard is prime, then what’ll happen if they bring medium and soft next year? AFAIK softer, more grain.

  4. William Wilgus said on 11th May 2008, 18:22

    If the tires were so bad, how is it then that Hamilton was running a second per lap faster than Massa during one stint? Hint: the three-stop was a tactic tried to win the race—that came within a few seconds of achieving it.

    Just more BS from Ron & Lewis.

  5. Sri said on 11th May 2008, 18:35

    With all due respect Kanyima, preserving tyres and car is an art which has distinguished good drivers from great ones. Is Bridgestone to be blamed for Hamster locking up his wheels? By that account, when Kimster lost a race in Nurbergring(in his Macca days), owing to a flatspotted tyre wrecking his suspension and putting him out of race, was to be blamed on Michelin, is it???

    “It was possibly okay to run two stops, but it was a bit more severe on Lewis’ and we put drivers’ safety first.”

    Clearly someone has issues making their tyres last. If i was the team manager, i’d get the boy to do some long runs during the tests, than have him top the time charts(well he is quick, so no point proving the same). This again goes out to prove that some chappie in Macca needs to be reminded of his job responsibilities.

    “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.”

    “…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.”

    You’re spot on Sush with the fact that Alonso had no such problems with the car last year(in Interlagos for that matter or anywhere else). Given that Alonso’s initial turn-in into a corner, is recognised to be much sharper/sudden, than any other on the grid. Alonso should have had the problem, more so than Lewis. That’s what the logic says, at least.

    Also, i think in part, it is also down to the car. If a car has a reasonable level of mechanical grip, it does not need to be hard on its tyres. However, if you’re playing catch-up, the equation changes. Use more tyre, more grip. Higher chances of failures/more stops. Guess which one i’d pick. No rocket science, really.

    “…coincidence that a F1 tyre supplier would use only one team in their adverts? It’s a joke.”

    I think that is more down to global brand recognition and ahem, winning pedigree anyone(6 drivers titles and constructors titles in last 8 years)? You’re right about Lewis and Macca though.

    Ans yes, DanielPT, the team from down under(not Australia, the OTHER down under, “HELL”) made a pact with the Devil in ’95(LOLLLL). They sold their souls alright. Loved every bit of your conspiracy theory.

  6. Sri said on 11th May 2008, 18:59

    “Just more BS from Ron & Lewis.”

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

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

  8. Kanyima said on 11th May 2008, 20:12

    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?

  9. Sri said on 11th May 2008, 20:32

    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.

  10. Sush said on 11th May 2008, 20:59

    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?

  11. Kanyima said on 11th May 2008, 21:10

    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.

  12. Kanyima said on 11th May 2008, 21:19

    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.

  13. Sush said on 11th May 2008, 21:29

    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.

  14. Sush said on 11th May 2008, 21:30

    I meant TOOLS not Fools.

    stupid keyboard.

  15. Sri said on 11th May 2008, 22:02

    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.

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