Softer tyres to liven up season finale

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima talking tyres at Valencia
Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima talking tyres at Valencia

Bridgestone has revealed which tyres the teams will be allowed to use in the final four races of the season.

It’s one of those decisions that might not grab headlines, but could have a huge bearing on who wins this year’s titles. The soft and super-soft tyres being brought to the Japanese and Brazilian races have the greatest potential to mix up the order.

Singapore will get the same tyre compounds as last year: soft and super-soft, to help teams get the most traction on the low-grip street course.

Last time Bridgestone announced a new set of tyre allocations they claimed they were ending their practice of bringing compounds two ‘stages’ apart – but that has not entirely been followed this time.

At Interlagos, teams will have the super-soft and medium tyres. Last year they had medium and soft, so the durability of the super-soft tyre could be a concern. Bridgestone brought soft and super-soft tyres to this race in 2007.

Similarly, Suzuka – noted for placing particularly high demands on tyres – will be tackled with the soft and hard compounds. Will teams have to limit the length of their stints on the softer compounds here too?

At the beginning of the year some drivers – notably Fernando Alonso – voiced strong opinions that Bridgestone were bringing tyres that were excessively soft:

One [tyre] will be too hard and one will be too soft. The right tyre is at home! This soft tyre is at home and this happened in Australia as well. And the understanding that this is for a better show, for overtaking. As I said, for better show, maybe we can pick up our number and then whoever picks up number 15 can put on wet tyres, or whatever, and it is a better show and its funny. Like this is not funny.
Fernando Alonso

Finally, soft and medium tyres will be used at the new Yas Island circuit at Abu Dhabi for the season finale. Interestingly, Bridgestone describes the circuit as “technically a street course”, though plans for it to include a street section were abandoned some time ago.

Last year there were complaints from some teams that Bridgestone’s tyre choices favoured one outfit or another. There hasn’t been anything like that so far this year – note yet, anyway.

But looking at the tyre picks for Suzuka and Interlagos in particular, you have to wonder whether these compounds were chosen more out of a desire to produce entertaining racing, rather than being what suits the teams best.

As has been said before, Bridgestone wanted the compulsory pit stop rule to make people talk about their tyres, and it seems to be working.

Here’s a summary of the compounds being used this year and which teams have won with them so far:

Circuit Prime Option Winner
Melbourne Medium Super soft Brawn
Sepang Hard Soft Brawn
Shanghai* Medum Super soft Red Bull
Bahrain Medium Super soft Brawn
Barcelona Hard Soft Brawn
Monte-Carlo Soft Super soft Brawn
Istanbul Hard Soft Brawn
Silverstone Hard Soft Red Bull
Nurburgring Medium Super soft Red Bull
Budapest Soft Super soft McLaren
Valencia Soft Super soft Brawn
Spa-Francorchamps Medium Soft
Monza Medium Soft
Singapore Soft Super soft
Suzuka Hard Soft
Interlagos Medium Super soft
Yas Island Medium Soft

Press release

Bridgestone, the Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship, is pleased to announce the final compound allocations of Potenza tyres for the last four rounds of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.

A return is made to the allocation philosophy of leaving a rubber stiffness gap between allocated tyres for the Grands Prix at Suzuka, Japan and Interlagos, Brazil. Consecutive compounds will be used at Singapore and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Both allocations of dry tyres have to be used in each race, unless the intermediate or wet tyres are used, meaning that competitors need to find the best set-up to utilise the potential of both tyres. The means of distinguishing between the two compounds on event is by green bands painted on the edges of the tyre sidewalls of the softer tyres at a race. Green is the colour in order to show Bridgestone?s support of the FIA?s Make Cars Green campaign.

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development , says:
??We are pleased to release our final allocations. Singapore is a street course and based on our experience there last year we feel the soft and super soft is the best choice. For Suzuka we will have a gap in compound hardness. This will be an interesting return to this great circuit as half of the circuit has a new surface, so tyre usage considerations could be challenging. In Brazil we also stay with the stiffness gap. It can get very hot in Sao Paulo and we usually see a good race there, although I think we will struggle to have a race as exciting as the one we had last season. Abu Dhabi is a new destination for us. Although it is technically a street course, we are bringing harder compounds than we use at the other street courses. We feel that the hard compound would be too stiff for this new circuit, so we are bringing the consecutive soft and medium compounds.??

*Wet race

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