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?”

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3
  1. Sush, this bit has eluded me, so i would appreciate source/more info on the same.

  2. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    12th May 2008, 13:19

    @sri saying about jv doing better, i wouldnt go that far, he was 9 points behind hill going into the last race and he was only 3rd i think when his tyre flew off so he had no chance of winning anyway. also the 96′ williams was miles quicker than any other car that year giving him an advantage compared to other drivers. also note he made a few mistakes during his rookie year, hamilton made a handful all year. also id say jv’s contention for the tittle was more down to hill throwing away races he should have won rather than jv beating him outright unlike hamilton on alonso last year. coming on to your point that jv then won the tittle the next year, again the williams was the fastest car by a mile (2 seconds quicker in qualifying for the 97 oz gp) he should have walked that years tittle, yet mistakes by him led to schumacher nearly beating him! in my opinion jv was over rated he made too many mistakes. hamilton doesnt seem to make many and i thought he was great yesterday.

    back to the original post about macca and bridgestone, im a hamilton fan but id agree that bridgestone cant change the compounds of tyre just because 1 driver isnt happy. hamilton has to find his own way around the problem, maybe running with more wing so he doesnt have to get so much of his grip out of the tyres. 2 be honest if he had done better in qualifying p2 or pole he would have probably won the race and none of us would have had this discussion.

    also looking ahead to monaco, i for 1 expected, likke last year that mclaren would be the quickest there, but looking at the last sector yesterday (the tight, twisty complex of corners at the end of the lap) hamilton was losing time on massa, could that be a sign of things to come in monaco??

    i think if hamilton is goign to challenge for the tittle this year hes going to have to try more adventurous strategies because ferrari has the adavantage.

  3. Most of you guys are missing the point, its not tyre wear thats the problem, but rather, internal wear within the tyre walls thats the problem. What happens is that the tyre begins to break up from inside, like happened with Michelin tyres at Indy after just a few laps.

  4. Its a problem that is well documented, and an advantage that Ferrari were always going to have when the majority of their rivals switched from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres.
    However, as always, some teams fair better than others, as do drivers. There is no doubt in my mind, as others of you have written, that Hamilton’s driving style is hard on his tyres.
    Also factor in, that he had to really dig deep in Turkey to keep pace with both the Ferrari’s. The Ferrari is the strongest car out there, and the team perfectly understand their tyres and get the best usage out of them.
    Bearing in mind Raikkonen had a first lap mishap, Hamilton only just pipped him at a pitstop despite Lewis putting in a number of real hot laps before stopping.
    Also, the tyre situation is the perfect foil for Ron Dennis and his team. It is easier to blame the tyres, than the failure of Hamilton’s race strategy and the overall car not being as competitive as the Ferrari.

  5. http://planetf1.com/story/0,18954,3213_3559034,00.html

    This somewhat confirms(if you could call it that), that it was all BS from Ron and his folks in the PR team.

  6. Sri, I think that’s the second time you’ve posted a story I have reservations about from that particular site. Who is their source? They haven’t even hinted at it.

  7. Well Keith, i also said something in brackets that it is somewhat circumspect.

  8. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/67366

    i quote Hirohide Hamashima:

    “One solution was to make the inner pressure higher, or other solutions like that (in how to use the tyre). Then we suggested a strategy of 20 laps, 18 laps, 20 laps, but finally they decided on a three-stop strategy.”

    So 2 stops were indeed possible and suggested by Bridgestone. It was purely with the aim of gaining some track positions, with which they changed their strategy. Since it was not as good as they anticipated, they blamed the bellboy, ahem, Bridgestone. If this does not prove beyond doubt that McLaren are their own worst enemies, god knows what will.

    Also another quote from the same link
    Autosport:”Did you find any problems with Heikki Kovalainen?”
    HH:”Heikki had no problems at all, it was just Lewis. He is a bit severe on the front tyre.”

    Quite a fair bit telling, isn’t it?

  9. That’s more like it! And they have a similar problem at Fuji I see…

  10. Well, but i really do feel that it is about time, that Ron and his posse’ are put in their place. How many times will Ron lie about something/ anything and bring the name McLaren to shame? About time he went out of F1. Perhaps investors would ease the pain of ours by simply booting him out of McLaren operations.

  11. Erm, i meant to say racing operations.

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.