Bridgestone Malaysian GP Preview

Straight after the debut of Bridgestone’s 2009 slick Formula One tyres at the exciting Australian Grand Prix, Bridgestone heads to Malaysia for the second race in as many weeks as it faces the challenges of the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Malaysian event is the second of what will be four races in five weeks, giving no respite for Bridgestone personnel. The Sepang circuit is a severe circuit on tyres with two long straights leading into tight, slow speed corners which require heavy braking, putting high energy levels through the tyres.

In addition to these two heavy braking zones, a wide range of corner types mean that Bridgestone’s tyres are kept under heavy loads over the course of a lap. The circuit layout is not the only aspect that is tough, as the hot weather experienced here provides a harsh test too. Indeed, even when it rains in Malaysia, as it does frequently, temperatures remain high.

Bridgestone will bring its hard and soft compound Potenza tyres. Previously in Malaysia, hard and medium compound dry grooved tyres have been used, so this year’s allocation has a softer tyre than has been seen here before. Also of note, this will be the first time that teams get to use the 2009 hard compound, as the current specification hard tyre is an evolution from that used by teams in pre-season testing.

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

What are the challenges of Sepang?

“Sepang is quite severe on tyres as it has many different corner types and two heavy braking zones after long straights. This means the energy going through the tyres over a lap is considerable. Drivers will have to be careful not to lock their brakes, especially with the new generation cars which seem less stable due to the lower levels of downforce. High temperatures are usually a factor in Malaysia, and the later start time for the race is when we often see rain, so there are many challenges we could face.”

What are the implications of the tyre allocation?

“The hard compound we have in Malaysia is a development from the hard compound that teams used in pre-season testing. It has been modified to be softer than before, in response to feedback from the teams, however it is not a very big change and I am confident that it will be suitable. Management of the soft compound is likely to be the biggest challenge of the weekend, as we have not previously brought a soft tyre to Sepang.”

Stats & FactsNumber & Spec of tyres brought to Malaysia 1800 (intermediate/wets, hard & soft dry)Pole position time 2008: 1min 35.748secs (Massa)Fastest race lap 2008: 1min 35.366secs (Heidfeld)Top three 2008: Raikkonen, Kubica, Kovalainen

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