Bridgestone Formula One Tyres
The upcoming 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is not only the drivers title deciding race but also for the foreseeable future the last F1 race for Bridgestone tyres. The Pirelli era (and not only in F1) will begin. Here is a brief look back at Bridgestone in F1.
Bridgestone tyres appeared in F1 for the first time in 1976. The first and for almost 20 years the only driver to use Bridgestones in F1 was Kazuyoshi Hoshino (Heros Racing). He entered only 2 races – 1976 and 1977 Japanese GPs. He retired from the first one because he ran out of tyres.
The proper entry into Formula One came in 1997 ending five years of Goodyear monopoly. Bridgestone supplied 5 teams in their first year in F1 – Arrows, Prost, Minardi, Stewart and Lola (although the MasterCard Lola team never really made it).
“We scored points in our first race and the first Bridgestone podium came in our second race. We even came very close to a win with Damon Hill in the Arrows Yamaha at Hungary so this was a very good debut for us.” – Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, Hirohide Hamashima
Bridgestone will quit F1 after 2010 season
We have all expected the off-season full of announcements. The first one came shortly after the end of 2009 F1 action. And it is a rather surprising one – Bridgestone announced they will not continue supplying F1 with tyres after 2010 season.
Here come the Bridgestones ...
With the exception of Monaco Grand Prix Bridgestone this season has been following the concept of leaving a gap in rubber stiffness between the two allocated tyres for each race. That means that for example drivers have had to use super soft and medium or soft and hard rather than super soft and soft or medium and hard compounds at each GP (unless the race is declared wet).
For the four races from the Hungarian Grand Prix to the Italian Grand Prix Bridgestone will allocate consecutive compound pairings for each of these races.
Green lines to distinguish between different compounds
The return of slick tyres called for different ways of marking the tyres as there are no longer any grooves that can be painted white. Bridgestone decided to paint bands on the edges of the softer tyres sidewalls. They chose to paint those bands in green. They could have chosen any colour or give any reason for choosing green, but they decided to be pathetic :
“We are also proud to support the FIA’s Make Cars Green campaign through our tyre markings.”
More important than the change of the marking however is the change of the tyre allocation philosophy for each race.
1998 grooved F1 tyres
Italian GP was the last European F1 race to feature the grooved tyres (not much though due to rain). There are only four more fly-away races left this season and then the grooves (along with other ugly things) will be gone, hopefully for good. Hated by many fans the grooves have been with us for 11 seasons since 1998. Back then in 1998 Goodyear was still F1 tyre supplier and Bridgestone started only their 2nd F1 season after their 20 year hiatus. Now however we are about to see the last of them. Here is a brief look at the short history of modern grooved Formula 1 tyres.
Originally with 3 circumferential grooves on the front tyres and 4 on the rear ones they were introduced in order to slow down the cars. From 1999 the front tyres received the 4th groove as well.
- All teams will be supplied by one tyre manufacturer. Bridgestone will supply two specifications of its Potenza tyre at each grand prix, and each driver will have 14 sets at his disposal (seven per specification).
A driver may use a maximum of four sets on the first practice day and the remaining 10 on the Saturday and Sunday.
In dry conditions, both specifications must be used during the race.
In the wet, a driver has a total of seven sets of tyres available – four wet-weather and three extreme-weather.