Bridgestone to widen difference between tyres in 2009 ?ǣ but how will we know?

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India F1 Team, Barcelona, test, 2008, 470150

Slick tyres are making their long-awaited return to Formula 1 next year. Drivers and fans have largely welcomed the return of proper racing tyres to F1.

The FIA apparently intends to keep the rule requiring teams to use two different compounds per race. But in order to make this more of a challenge Bridgestone plans to increase the difference in performance between the two tyres.

I have two questions about this: why has this rule been deemed worth keeping, and how are we going to be able to tell the difference between the tyres?

Why keep the ??two compounds? rule?

The ??two compounds? rule was introduced in 2007 when Formula 1 switched to having a single tyre supplier.

Bridgestone, who won the tyre contract, were concerned that without the tyre war with Michelin there would be little reason for F1 commentators to discuss tyres at all. That would be no good for their marketing efforts.

So the FIA copied an idea used in Champ Car at the time (where Bridgestone also had a tyre monopoly) requiring each driver to use both a standard and a softer ??option? tyre at different stages during the race.

18 months on the rule has had its intended effect of making people talk about tyres more, which suits Bridgestone, but has it improved racing in F1? I don?t think it has.

Should the solution be to scrap the rule or to make the differences between the tyres greater? F1 seems to have bypassed this discussion and gone straight for option B, presumably to keep Bridgestone happy.

How will we be able to tell the difference between the tyres?

When the ??two compounds? rule was first introduced little to no thought was given to how F1 fans at the tracks or on TV might be able to tell which compound each of the drivers was on.

In Champ Car the softer tyre was distinguished by a red sidewall. To begin with the FIA chose to mark the softer tyres with a small white circle in F1. But they proved far too difficult to see at speed when they were first tried at the Australian Grand Prix.

So a new solution was found ?ǣ Bridgestone painted a white stripe in one of the grooves on the softer tyres. This has proved successful.

But next year there will be no grooves on the tyres. A line painted down the middle of a slick tyre would surely get scrubbed off very quickly. So what will thry do instead?

I suspect some teams will oppose having sidewalls of a particular colour as it would conflict with their carefully-chosen, sponsor-friendly paint schemes.

I think the most likely solution would be to have white sidewalls with black lettering on the softer tyres. But this is F1 so expect a more complicated and less effective system to be found…

2009 F1 season

Slick bridgestone tyre, Force India F1 team, 2008, 470

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26 comments on Bridgestone to widen difference between tyres in 2009 ?ǣ but how will we know?

  1. Sush said on 15th July 2008, 22:00

    I live next to a British Airways office, I often see Firestone Potenza adored vehicles wearing pirrelli tyres.

    I’ve been trying to take a good picture on my old phone, but I suck, and the people in said vehicles look at me like I have “issues”. I’ll be getting a new phone soon so hopefully should work.

    in regards to the tyre war, I liked it, the culmination of the 2004 season created the tyre war of recent years as we know it…. they should allow (get this) a DRIVER pick his tyre

    I know it seems like a crazy idea, you know, having the front man choose what he wears.

  2. TommyB said on 15th July 2008, 22:31

    The one race I remember it making a difference Montreal 07. Sato overtaking Alonso :) Shame it doesn’t happen much more often

  3. Number 38 said on 15th July 2008, 22:36

    USA Champ Cars used two compounds, the outer sidewall
    was a RED stripe. I see little reason for two compounds but if it must be why not let a team/driver make a choice and use that compound for the entire race.

  4. M Smith said on 15th July 2008, 22:43

    The problem with the different compounds rule is that by Sunday, everyone knows the charateristics of the tarmac, so just about everyone uses the same compound pattern in their strategy.

    “Here, here” on the tyre painting next year, they will probably choose an overly complex or just plain silly system. What is wrong with painting the tyre red or blue or whatever?

  5. I may be making this too simple, but as the tires need to be directly mounted to a wheel, why not have 2 colors of wheel per team. 1 Wheel black, 1 wheel lighter valued/team color.

    As most teams are going to a wheel cover scenario anyway, why not just place a colored wheel cover to indicate tire type. That would be easy, and economical. Additionally the FIA could dictate a wheel cover spec, thus it would be cheaper for the teams to run the spec wheel types (rather than go to the trouble of painting up a bunch of wheels.)

    There’s fun for the day, (and the tire companies don’t need to redo the compounding to generate funky colors that’ll just rub off!)

  6. Of course the other option is just to invert the lettering, so that it’s a white wall, and the letters are black, (rubber showing through).

  7. I don’t care one jot about tyres and I don’t see the merit in a single or even two providers. Surely each team should be free to buy tyres from anyone they want and that team can then work with the provider to make their car work with their tyres.

    They want to make mechanical grip more important? let teams really work on it instead of compromising every team.

  8. Chalky said on 15th July 2008, 23:22

    The difference needs to be on the tyre to prevent any “team errors” that will cause controvesy later on. :D
    White on Black and invereted for the 2nd option seems the best idea.

  9. Nico Savidge said on 16th July 2008, 0:33

    “Without the tyre war with Michelin there would be little reason for F1 commentators to discuss tyres at all” Oh heavens no – God forbid that we would miss those enlightening discussions… I can’t stand it when broadcasters try to make tire compounds interesting, and I’m what people would describe as a “F1 Nerd.” I’m with you, Keith – just scrap the mandatory compound change.

  10. Toby said on 16th July 2008, 1:00

    Andrew – the problem with allowing teams to choose tyre suppliers and work with them is that manufacturer-backed teams will gain more than smaller outfits. I personally don’t fancy seeing Ferrari and McLaren moving even further ahead of the pack, while my beloved Williams boys head backwards into extinction.

    I’m quite happy to see this rule stay if it means stability with Bridgestone as sole supplier. I don’t think it helps the sport at the moment, but I also don’t see it doing any damage. If they need more exposure, then let them have it – provided it doesn’t damage the sport. I really don’t want to see a farce in F1 like the ’03 championship again – all down to tyre suppliers pulling a fast one (both Michelin and Bridgestone).

  11. Fegan said on 16th July 2008, 2:38

    “But this is F1 so expect a more complicated and less effective system to be found…”

    I love that line.

  12. Steve K said on 16th July 2008, 3:17

    Just put a white circle around the outside of the soft tires, or “tyres.” Why on earth is that spelled differently?

  13. Journeyer said on 16th July 2008, 6:12

    Steve, I think that’s an American/British English thing more than anything. :)

    The tyre compound rule doesn’t really bother me. I’m OK with it either way.

  14. So all the tyre compound rubbish is just for Bridgestone’s sake? Did they pay Bernie for the priviledge of being sole supplier? Mind you, they were already supplying GP2, so its no surprise really.
    Didn’t anybody else think it odd that when Michelin were thrown out, the likes of Dunlop, Avon, Pirelli and Firestone weren’t approached to compete for the ‘Sole Supplier’ place? Bernie went straight to Bridgestone, no matter that they were never up to Michelin standards!
    I think the teams should be able to use any supplier they want, for any part of the car, as long as its up to the current FIA/FOM specifications.
    As far as showing the ‘difference’ between the two compounds, I like the idea of the wheel covers, since they have now become part of the package, and can say ‘Bridgestone’ in any colour you want. In fact you could even go so far and make it really simple and write ‘Soft’ and ‘Hard’ on the sidewalls and on the wheel covers.
    Oh, and with only one supplier, who has already provided the wrong spec tyres on at least one occasion this year, what penalties are in place if they completely mess it up and make all the cars undrivable?

  15. Sush said on 16th July 2008, 9:28

    “Firestone weren’t approached to compete for the ‘Sole Supplier’ place”
    firestone is the American arm of Bridgestone, so yeah they were totally asked.
    Sorry for nitpicking, i’m just pretending to have a reservoir of knowledge.

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