Bridgestone Japanese GP Preview

Formula One heads to Japan for the sixteenth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, where Bridgestone’s medium and soft compound Potenza tyres, and quite possibly the wet and extreme wet tyres, will tackle the exciting Fuji Speedway.

Fuji returned to the Formula One calendar last season after an absence of 30 years and extreme weather conditions presented competitors with heavy rain and thick fog. The track is located in the foothills of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. At 4.56km, the circuit is almost 800 metres longer than the mountain is high (3776m). Mount Fuji itself is a dormant volcano, and over the weekend of the Japanese Grand Prix, the action should once more erupt on track.

The circuit layout features one of the longest straights in motorsport at around 1.4km long. This means that a low downforce car set-up will be essential for maximum advantage. This type of set-up means the emphasis is on the mechanical grip from the tyres in the tight and twisty aspects of the track.

Grands Prix have only been held at Fuji three times. Last year’s was the first in 30 years after the Japanese Grand Prix took place at the track in 1976-77. The most recent re-profiled and resurfaced version of the track opened in April 2005. Fuji Speedway is also cited as being the first race circuit to feature in a video game.

Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, said:

What challenges does Fuji present?

“The major feature of Fuji is the very long straight, and this straight goes into a slow corner which will mean some interesting overtaking opportunities. There are only two high speed corners, with the 100R and 300R. We will see dry set-ups with low downforce configurations. The surface is quite smooth, so I do not expect problems with wear. As we saw last year, the biggest challenge could be the weather and I will certainly be bringing wet weather clothing.”

Are you confident in Bridgestone’s tyre choice if the weather is dry?

“We have learnt a lot from racing in other racing categories at Fuji, such as Formula Nippon and Super GT, over the years and it is from this knowledge that we chose the Formula One tyre position of the medium and soft tyres from our range. Of course, last season we did not see too much dry running, but we know that the 100R corner will be a challenge for graining on the left front tyre. However, if competitors manage this well we are confident of a strong performance from our tyres.”

Stats & FactsNumber & Spec of tyres brought to Japan 2,000 (wet/extreme wets and medium & soft)Pole position time 2007: 1min 25.368secs (Hamilton)Fastest race lap 2007: 1min 28.193secs (Hamilton)Top three 2007: Hamilton, Kovalainen, Raikkonen