Softer tyres to liven up season finale

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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:

MelbourneMediumSuper softBrawn
Shanghai*MedumSuper softRed Bull
BahrainMediumSuper softBrawn
Monte-CarloSoftSuper softBrawn
SilverstoneHardSoftRed Bull
NurburgringMediumSuper softRed Bull
BudapestSoftSuper softMcLaren
ValenciaSoftSuper softBrawn
SingaporeSoftSuper soft
InterlagosMediumSuper soft
Yas IslandMediumSoft

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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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Softer tyres to liven up season finale”

  1. Well this is playing into the hands of Brawn surely (not that i am complaining) I wouldnt be too happy in the Red Bull camp!

    1. With all the Torine, caffeine and benzene flowing around in there, i would be surprised if you weren’t too happy :P.

      on the other hand, I’m one who prefers one type of tire for everyone for the whole race…

  2. HounslowBusGarage
    25th August 2009, 11:38

    Is it really the case that Bridgestone are making these decisions without any advice or input from the FIA?
    If it is, I’d be concerned at B’s ability to influence the relative success of one team versus another by the stipulation of one tyre grade or another.
    If the FIA do have an input into the selection of tyre grades for each circuit, I think the racing public ought to be told what that is.
    Either way, it’s not a very satisfactory situation. And it stems entirely from the decision to have only one tyre supplier, who were then able to influence the adoption of the ‘two tyre grades each race’ idea just to keep them in the limelight.

    1. I think we need to know more about who is making these decisions, and if the teams also have a say, or do they only find out at the same time that we do?
      If these tyre choices are only being made for the sake of Bridgestone and the ‘show’, then isn’t whoever making them turning the whole point of a Championship into a farce?
      Since the teams have most data about the circuits, it would be much more sensible to have the tyre choices decided between them and Bridgestone, if a choice is really needed at all.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        25th August 2009, 16:24


  3. Looking at the races summary I can’t really see any correlation between the tyres used and who won. Brawn’s dominance at the start of the season is more to do with their superior double diffuser.

    1. I hear what you are saying, but it is also a well know fact that the brawn is less harsh on their tyres than Red Bull, and to a certain extenet Hamilton and his driving style.

      1. I agree with WidowFactory that, looking simply at the table, there is no correlation between tyres and team.

        However, as SamS says, it is also true that Brawn are easier on the tyres than others.

        However, it is also true that other teams can make their tyres work consistently in all conditions.

        Swings and roundabouts…

        Personally I’d like to see the teams have the freedom to use what they liked when they liked. But that means bringing a shed load of tyres to each race, and returning with the majority of them unused, not very eco-friendly. Maybe the teams individually can tell Bridgestone what they want for each race.

  4. This is all very well but Button will clinch the championship by Singapore. The gap is too big and Red Bull haven’t closed enough when they needed to

  5. Id love to see some Pirellis, Michs and Goodyears in the mix. I hate the single tyre source. I think a tire war would be the best way to sell a product and would make for some very interesting racing.

    1. Aye.

    2. Once you bring other tyre manufacturers in there’s no way to use tyres to control cornering speeds. So some different and fairly drastic means would have to be used – smaller engines, reduced wings, that kind of thing. I’m not sure having a tyre war (which can make championships incredibly one-sided – remember 2004?) is worth it if we have to have tiny engines.

  6. From a statistical point of view, I think the comparison table giving tyre compounds and winner doesn’t really tell us much, as they are both dependant variables on the circuit.

  7. I’d like to see the teams able to select their tires in advance for each half of the season.

    That way Bridgestone bring only the tires requested by the teams individually and if the team makes a duff choice – too bad.

    1. i’m all for that! that would add a very interesting dimension to the competition.

  8. I find it odd reading the Bridgestone quotes during a race weekend. I even find it stranger still, that we bother ourselves too much with, supersofts, softs, medium and hards. And I think I almost agree with you there Dasman, but specifically, teams be allowed to chose the tyres they are comfortable with.

    1. Bring all four compounds to each race weekend, though, and you’ll double the costs involved.

      1. Just had a wee thought about this and fundamentally I absolutely agree with Keith, however… surely Bridgestone don’t make the worlds tyres in the one factory, they must have factories around the world… so, why not manufacturer the tyres for the race local to the circuit, and by local it could mean a neighbouring country but that would still be closer than now probably. Like that you can supply all the tyres needed and contribute to the local economy.

        Also, if we open up Friday to be a full test day, the teams can use more tyres therefore leaving less wastage, and also test young drivers and new parts etc

  9. It’s hard to say what consequences this tyre selection might have, as obviously, the race’s outcome depend on many other factors than just which compounds are available for prime and option. Both title-contending teams, if not any team this year, have at some point struggled to get their car in the “window” where it was functioning optimally with the tyres, so I’d be willing to argue there’s not necessarily a bias here, as everyone needs to deal with the issue.

    I agree it would be interesting to know if the teams have some kind of input on this selection process.

  10. These ridiculous Bridgestone tire shenanigans need to stop. Bringing Hards and softs or super softs and mediums and making the teams use both isn’t more exciting, it’s stupid. Bring back the tire choices for the circuits from last year and get rid of the rule about having to use both. Let the teams figure out what works best for them and let em’ have at it. With refueling banned for next year, I hope the tire rules can change as well.

    1. Very good, lets use the occasion to take a step forward here.

  11. I have an intriguing question :

    — Keith suggested recently, in a very insightful way, that the refueling ban would lead to cars that are set up to cover a greater variety of conditions ( heavy, light, etc ) and thus would not have such a small sweet spot and be so delicate to set up.
    It was hoped that this more universal setup would tend to reduce the great differences of half a second between the performance at one track versus the next track, and thus lead to closer performing cars and racing.

    — So, could the separation between tyre compounds be determined in a way that it contributes to an easier, more universal setup of cars, that would lead to closer racing ? could this be achieved by more or by less separation between compounds ?

    Could a change in policy in types of tyres be one decisive contribution towards closer racing as a result of easier car setup ? please some revealing and enlightening comments on this issue !


  12. I got a chuckle out of Bridgestone this week with their grand standing on moving to tin weights for balancing because it is recylable and they use 1000kg a season.
    1000kg is abiut 0.025% of world wide production and lead is one of the most widely recycled metals on earth. Lead acid batteries are for the most part made using recycled lead.
    You have to laugh at how much these companies believe their own propaganda.
    If Bridgestone is not recycling their lead they should be they should be ashamed.

  13. HounslowBusGarage
    26th August 2009, 8:17

    Keith, I don’t accept that doubling the tyre choices for the teams would double the costs of Bridgestone – the teams would still be restricted to the number of tyres used throught the weekend.
    And if cost is a major consideration here, I’m sure mighty Bridgestone would be perfectly capable of producing a race tyre that could last a full GP distance. In which case, we could have racing with no refueling stops, no tyre changing stops . . . just racing!

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