Did Bridgestone compromise McLaren?

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Istanbul, 2008, 470150

A mistake by Bridgestone, Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier, created additional problems for McLaren this weekend. Even before the race got underway the Japanese manufacturer was openly admitting it had brought the wrong choice of compounds.

It chose the same combination of medium and hard tyres it brought last year, despite the race being much earlier in the calendar this year and therefore held in cooler conditions. Hirohide Hamashima, the director of Bridgestone motorsport tyre development, said yesterday:

I think for next season maybe we have to shift the [compound] one position softer. It is about 10-15 degrees [C] lower than we expected, so especially the medium compound has some graining until about 10 laps, then it vanishes gradually.

Hamashima denied this had caused any problems for the teams:

We have checked the car data from every team, and so far we have seen no problems. Last year we found the small problem on the Friday, but now we are very happy and we don’t face any trouble.

But according to McLaren that was not the case. Ron Dennis said after the race:

There was some internal delamination which Bridgestone were very good at picking up. We didn’t want to have any tyre failure. It was possibly okay to run two stops, but it was a bit more severe on Lewis’ and we put drivers’ safety first.

Lewis Hamilton added:

The reason we went with the three stopper was that Bridgestone were concerned. They thought the tyre was going to fail like it did last year and they made us do a three-stop as it was the safest route to go. Unfortunately that put us in not such a strong position to win the race.

Were the two problems related? If they aren’t then why did Hamashina claim they hadn’t had any problems? (If Dennis is feeling particularly paranoid, he may point out that it is not his cars that appear in Bridgestone’s television adverts, but those of a certain leading rival.)

It’s not easy to say how far was this Bridgestone’s fault and how far was it McLaren’s, although Bridgestone clearly made a mistake in the first place by failing to appreciate how different the conditions would be in Istanbul in May instead of September.

The difference in driving styles between the two McLaren drivers further complicates the picture. Hamilton is much harder on his tyres than most drivers including team mate Heikki Kovalainen. At the same circuit last year he suffered a tyre de-lamination during the race.

According to Dennis and Hamilton, they opted for a three-stop strategy out of concerns over safety at Bridgestone’s insistence. Under similar circumstances at Interlagos last year McLaren stuck to a short-stint strategy out of concerns that the tyres would not last, and Hamilton potentially lost the world championship because of that decision.

McLaren still haven’t gotten to grips with the rubber supplied by Bridgestone, but the tyre supplier’s mistake this weekend didn’t help.

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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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51 comments on “Did Bridgestone compromise McLaren?”

  1. You note that the Maclaren is harder on its tyres than most, and Lewis especially. But everyone ran on the same combination of option and prime compound, didn’t they? Was anyone else’s race compromised by this error by Bridgestone? Why just Maclaren?

  2. So far only McLaren have said their strategy was dictated by Bridgestone, so the answer is I don’t know! Which is why the title of the post is a question…

  3. Why the hell this happens with Mclaren only? And, even inside Mclaren, with Hamilton only? Because Hamilton goes hard in a car that already goes hard on the tires?

    Renault used to be the car built especially for Michelins and when Michelin backed out it was a major blow for them. Afterwards they went through several problems in adapting the cars to the new supplier, that, admitedly, aren’t yet fully solved. So they would be feeling bridgestone blunders more so than the others. Then, again, why this only happens with Mclaren?

    Maybe it is conspiration between that great evil force from hell (Ferrari), that only resorts to evil and illegal tactics, with another newly corrupted force. They needed a tire partner so they have corrupted an inocent supplier years ago to, when arriving at times like this, be able to count on this company to help them destroying the heavenly good (Mclaren). (Please note that this conspiracy was founded in 1995 when Ferrari sold their soul and joined forces with the devil himself. Today the devil has retired, but he continues to manouvre the destiny of F1 by controlling FIA, FOM and Ferrari from his house. Sitted on a confortable couch. At a fireplace. With his children playing around him…) :P

    (This is my contribution to the conspiration theories)

  4. Heh, not picking fault, more posing further questions as your collective knowledge is far greater than mine :)

    I’m not sure many other cars ran three stops either… As the compounds are used across the field I’d have thought it would have affected everyone to similar proportions.

    I’ve been wrong a million times before though :)

  5. Seeing as it is only McLaren who seem to have a problem with the tyres, one has to lay the blame at their feet, and not at Bridgestone’s.

    Furthermore, the fact that the temperature was cooler, yet McLaren still had the problem on the same tyres as they used with the warmer temperatures last year, suggests they would have been even more screwed had Bridgestone brought softer tyres. This again means one has to point the finger at McLaren, and I think that implying otherwise is merely trouble-making.

  6. Case is clear cut and simple. Lewis is hard on the tyres, which is an open knowledge to everybody in F1. For Bridgestone to say that for him to do two stops is dangerous but ok for everyone else would lead me to believe that not only is Lewis too hard on the tyres but so is the McLaren car.

    In any case I find this sole supplier stuff worse than the tyre war purely because certain teams have had and still got a complete competitive advantage over others. Namely Ferrari, coincidence that a F1 tyre supplier would use only one team in their adverts? It’s a joke.

    To equalise all this crap someone needs to ban both Michelen and Bridgestone from the sport for 2 years and in the meantime get Goodyear to supply all the teams, then after 2 years allow open competition and for teams to get their own tyres from anyone.

  7. In the second stint raikkonen seemed to have graining problems as his lap times worsened considerably during some laps, so the problem was for everybody, but the rest of the teams could cope up with it, it was only mclaren who had that problem. The tyres are the same for everybody, if mclaren is the only team that degrades so much the tyres maybe their engineers are not working so well. For me it´s mclaren and most notably hamilton the ones to point, tey seem to no beeing able to develop enough speed without being too hard on the tyres

  8. We know that the tires are the same for everybody. But that being said Ferrari is the team running Bridgestone tires for the longest period of time, and that is a clear advantage. On top of that I believe this is only the second year Mclaren is back with Bridgestone, just like Renault.

    Despite all the problens for Mclaren with Bridgestone tires, Hamilton was still able to beat Haikkonen and would probably win the race had Him started on pole. That’s is not a big desavantage in my point of view.

    Go Mclaren!!!

  9. De la Rosa comments the races for spanish TV, and at the end of the race said that Heiki had a two-stops strategy.

    He also said that without traffic three stop-strategy was only 4 sec slower than 2 stop strategy.

    I think in Mclaren were afraid of Hamilton’s last year incident. Hamilton usually drives blocking front wheels, and today it was a long distance to use just two sets of tyres.

    In the moments Ferraris and Mclaren had the same load, Ferrari was better. Only Raikkonen’s mistake at the first corner stop another Ferrari’s 1-2

  10. From Bridgestone

    “We had the issue with Lewis last year at this race, brought about by turn eight specifically being anti-clockwise triple-apex with very high G-forces.

    “He had a specific problem last year, most noticeably, but several other drivers we noticed had internal tyre problems. Based on that, we changed the construction and strengthened it over the winter period and then brought those tyres to all the races this year.

    “In actual fact, nobody else has had a repetition of any of those problems this year, with the exception of Lewis. He is the one driver who perhaps with his style of driving has put higher forces onto his front right tyre.”

  11. Thanks for that Mail but in future please don’t post entire sections of other people’s articles or I’ll get sued for copyright infringement. I’ve edited your comment accordingly.

    Interesting then that they knew about the problem but tried to fix it and it re-occured.

  12. Whoa, whatever DanielPT is smoking, I want some of it!

  13. @Keith Collantine
    sorry for that …

  14. the question in your title is wrong, you should be asking:

    “Did Bridgestone compromise Lewis?”

    because kovi in the other macca was fine. and every other driver on the grid was fine.

    i think we also have the answer to the questions posed last year about why alonso didn’t have the same problem. in fact i’d go even further and say we learned an awful *lot* today.

    for the first time in a long time, i actually appreciate the single tyre supplier ruling.

  15. its a load bearing issue, Senna – Rosberg and mansell used to have the same problem.

    Hekkie seemed fine, and last year Alonso was fine too, but Hamilton had the same problem…..

    i’m shocked Kubica doesn’t get the same problem

  16. Hamilton have a notorious style. In The first “S” he goes on second leg with right wheel in the air while Kova didn´t (and everybody else I think). He fries the front tyres very often.

    And the famous “8” curve put higher force on the right front wheel. He is a fast driver(or the faster).

    Add that to the Bridgestone statment “mail123456″…

  17. If LH’s driving style or any other’s for that matter makes him go hard on tyres, then in all respect the tyre company should take it upon themselves to resolve the problem or lose their supplier privilege. Different team supplier choice makes a lot of sense to me. All we need to see is great driving on the circuit and less mechanical misadventures.

  18. I don’t think it’s down to Bridgestone at all. Obviously to me it’s a Hamilton and Mclaren first because others don’t get a similar problem.

    About Bridgestone mistake, it’s quite contradictory, if the medium grains quicky and the hard is prime, then what’ll happen if they bring medium and soft next year? AFAIK softer, more grain.

  19. William Wilgus
    11th May 2008, 18:22

    If the tires were so bad, how is it then that Hamilton was running a second per lap faster than Massa during one stint? Hint: the three-stop was a tactic tried to win the race—that came within a few seconds of achieving it.

    Just more BS from Ron & Lewis.

  20. With all due respect Kanyima, preserving tyres and car is an art which has distinguished good drivers from great ones. Is Bridgestone to be blamed for Hamster locking up his wheels? By that account, when Kimster lost a race in Nurbergring(in his Macca days), owing to a flatspotted tyre wrecking his suspension and putting him out of race, was to be blamed on Michelin, is it???

    “It was possibly okay to run two stops, but it was a bit more severe on Lewis’ and we put drivers’ safety first.”

    Clearly someone has issues making their tyres last. If i was the team manager, i’d get the boy to do some long runs during the tests, than have him top the time charts(well he is quick, so no point proving the same). This again goes out to prove that some chappie in Macca needs to be reminded of his job responsibilities.

    “Hamilton is much harder on his tyres than most drivers including team mate Heikki Kovalainen. At the same circuit last year he suffered a tyre de-lamination during the race.”

    “…Under similar circumstances at Interlagos last year McLaren stuck to a short-stint strategy out of concerns that the tyres would not last, and Hamilton potentially lost the world championship because of that decision.”

    You’re spot on Sush with the fact that Alonso had no such problems with the car last year(in Interlagos for that matter or anywhere else). Given that Alonso’s initial turn-in into a corner, is recognised to be much sharper/sudden, than any other on the grid. Alonso should have had the problem, more so than Lewis. That’s what the logic says, at least.

    Also, i think in part, it is also down to the car. If a car has a reasonable level of mechanical grip, it does not need to be hard on its tyres. However, if you’re playing catch-up, the equation changes. Use more tyre, more grip. Higher chances of failures/more stops. Guess which one i’d pick. No rocket science, really.

    “…coincidence that a F1 tyre supplier would use only one team in their adverts? It’s a joke.”

    I think that is more down to global brand recognition and ahem, winning pedigree anyone(6 drivers titles and constructors titles in last 8 years)? You’re right about Lewis and Macca though.

    Ans yes, DanielPT, the team from down under(not Australia, the OTHER down under, “HELL”) made a pact with the Devil in ’95(LOLLLL). They sold their souls alright. Loved every bit of your conspiracy theory.

  21. “Just more BS from Ron & Lewis.”

    Thank you William Wilgus, you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth.

  22. The ultimate proof is that nobody complained but the “Trouble Trio”…

  23. Sri, different customers have have different needs and for that matter I stick to my point in saying that you just can’t blame Hamilton for his driving style. You sure can’t deny he’s good. If he thinks a different tyre structure might make his day a lot less stressful, then, why not. The problem is he can’t choose who that tyre supplier should be.
    Ponzonha, keep your beef.I think we had the “hate Hamilton” discussion earlie. Surely you’d have had your fair say?

  24. I agree completely Kanyima that different customers have different needs. Now i do not mean to offend you(My apologies in advance if this hurts). However, there’s no getting away with what i said about tyre usage(Alionora La Canta or Keith can verify the truth in what i stated). We have one tyre supplier and only one driver uses the tyres more than others(definitely a nominee for understatement of the year award), including his team mate. If a team isn’t able to make its tyres last, after a good 18 months of dealing with this rule, then they need their engineering looked into. Also, Ferrari were affected adversely last year by Bridgestone changing their compounds at the last minute. Much after Ferrari had designed their 07 car around the originally specced tyre. Need i remind you, that they were winning as soon as the season began? What do you think will happen if the tyres were more durable? Don’t you think that others will also lean on their tyres for that extra speed? Duly note the point that i made about Alonso as well, that he indeed was managing to have a better tyre performance cycle. There’s clearly some homework to be done(as i pointed out in the earlier post) by the team Macca and one of its drivers on their long runs. No rocket science.

    Macca is a team with great history. I respect what they achieved. However, of late there’s been too much hokey-pokey going around than racing itself. About time that they got around to it. They have all the resources and more importantly, NO EXCUSES. Then again, good ol’ Ron could prove me wrong.

  25. Kanyima, sorry dude, but no…. its not down to the tyre supplier to change, its down to the driver to make advantage of what he has.

    you don’t get Accountants moaning about Sage or SAT so why should a racer moan about changing the manufacturer of tyres?

  26. Sri, I see your sympathy for Macca and the point you are trying to make. Having read your comments in “The most hated person in F1”, I don’t think you need to press it but you can’t deny the fact that leaning on tyres on not, LH really knows how to do his homework.

    Show me any rookie who has emerged with a record like his.

    I like greatness described as “It’s not how long you stay up but how often you get up when you are down”. Only a couple of bad races after winning in Melbourne, he was spat at by the haters. He then promised a podium at every race since Bahrain and so far he has delivered. Look at today’s performance for reference. Credit should be given where it’s due and I think no matter how much you “deslike” a driver, you shouldn’t be entirely blind to his achievements.

  27. Sush, yes you do get accountants moaning about programs if they don’t deliver to expectations and good ones will have their employers change them. The difference with F1 is that they are not limited to only one supplier by regulations. Yeah, I’m all for different suppliers for different teams.

  28. Kanyima, the ones that moan don’t get far.
    Ralf moaned, and he got all the way from Toyota to the DTM.

    poor workman always blame they’re fools.

  29. I meant TOOLS not Fools.

    stupid keyboard.

  30. I know one who did one better. JV. He won as many races as Lewis did in his rookie year(’96) and more than a decade ago. He only lost title owing to a mechanical failure in the last race (so Hill lapped up the championship). JV also won the championship in the following year. Something that you can’t say about Lewis(not just as yet), can you?. Lewis needed to just finish in the position that he started in the Brazilian Grand Prix of 07. I bet you blame Alonso for not letting him past, do you? Need i remind of what happened in Shanghai? To be very polite, i’d call that a momentary lapse of reason on Lewis’ part. Also, just look up the facts mate. Kovi qualified better than Lewis(for today’s race), inspite of being on a heavier fuel load(2-3 laps more at the very least). What do you think was making Kovi faster and slowing Lewis? Lewis has stated a couple of times that he is de-facto number 1 in team Macca. So i don’t really think Kovi’s got the car advantage.

    ‘Am not entirely blind to his achievements. I’ve always said he is fast. However, bloopers i wouldn’t ignore, to which you turn a blind eye to. Hope this helps.

    Confession: Yes, i do hate the way he is portrayed to be saviour of Grand Prix racing. Not taking away anything from the fact that he is talented. However, it is downright silly that the kid bought into it. He has a long way to go and if he gets his head around to it, perhaps a very successful future to look forward to.

  31. This feels like a problem with Hamilton’s driving style more than anything. If Kovalainen’s (fairly standard) style works in the same car and the drivers get equal equipment, then McLaren is not to blame. The fact that no other team had problems (not even Alonso at Renault) implies that it wasn’t a systematic tyre issue either. The 1-second-per-lap reinforces this, since it implies that Lewis was harder on his tyres at precisely the point where he was 1-second-per-lap faster and therefore wearing them out quicker.

    The spec tyre should suit as many styles as possible, but then it is up to the teams to make sure their cars are compatible and then it is down to the drivers to make sure their driving styles are compatible with their car/tyre combinations.

  32. Thank you Alianora!

  33. Hi there Alianora, Keith. Am a newbie and have been following this page since last year only. Now, would you mind giving some background info on yourself mate(Could you mail me Keith about yourself Keith?)? In case you chose to mail me, my id is: garagetinkerer@gmail.com. People damn sure as hell swear by what you guys have to say(mighty impressive, if i could tell you).

  34. Its a level playing field now. there should be no complaints…….someone give mclaren a tissue!

  35. Ron and Lewis should learn from Ferrari. During 2005, Schumacher and Ferrari lapped up the only victory in Indianapolis. They were not exactly bad mouthing the tyre supplier(Bridgestone), though we know that was the only problem, in all likeliness. You wonder why Macca doesn’t have a good relationship with suppliers? They have on record mouthed off against engine suppliers Mercedes more than once in the past. Also, add Bridgestone to that list. There definitely will be more(which we know or don’t know of). Merely calling them partners(suppliers and sponsors) does not make your issues/problems go away. It is about PR. They need to get some assistance on that front.

  36. “Bridgestone compromised Mclaren”

    On the other hand, Bridgestone helped Mclaren. by giving Lewis a quicker 3 stop strategy.
    Lewis has always done well on a 3-stopper.(Brazil 2007, he went from 18th to 7th inspite of pitting one extra time). In France 2007, He managed 3rd on a day Ferrari were light years ahead, inspite of a 3-stopper. Lewis enjoyes pushing his tryes harder.

    Also, he was helped by the fact that Ferrari made a wrong tyre choice. Felip himself said Hard was much betetr than softs

  37. Sumedh, the three stopper definitely didn’t help Hamilton in Interlagos. Analysis after the race showed he would probably have finished fifth on a two-stopper, again assuming his tyres would have lasted,.

  38. I think that the question should be Bridgestone favours Ferrari?.

    It is clear that when all the teams changed to one team supplier they struggled with it (Could you imagine if the tyres supplier was Michelin?), well everyone except McLaren (anything to be with the more 700 pages dossier?. Remember Briatore asking loudly how they manage to adapt that quickly) and of course Ferrari. Still the teams are trying to adapt to the tyres, although most of them are getting in it.
    What it is clear to me is that the WCC in 05 and 06 fell to nowhere after changing tyres, and that such dramatic change did not help them but Ferrari and his subsidiary team in 07.

  39. Santiago, Ferrari suffered last year, believe it or not and the one who inflicted on them was Bridgestone. Much after their new car was designed, Bridgestone at the beginning of the year came up with new compounds. Ferrari also tested them along with the rest of the teams(Remember now there’s a testing cap). I think i’d call that reasonably fair to all teams.

    Though i’d not deny that Ferrari have a large pool of data from earlier Bridgestone days. However, let me assure you that with new compounds not much useful. That will not have had given them any competitive edge, with information on tyre-wear etc. of new compounds, which were yet to be tested at the beginning of ’07. F1 is a very competitive sport. You rest for a minute and suddenly your opponents are 2 tenths a lap faster than you. Such is life.

    You’re right about Briatore. He did question Mclaren’s sudden spurt in speed. Half a second per lap in 2 weeks is indeed a big deal(i think it was sometime after Malaysian Grand Prix that he aired his views).

  40. Sri, this years compounds are “apparently” identical to the 2003 spec bridgestone.

    its one of the Massa haters reason’s for berating him, thats when he tested continuously for them.

  41. Sush, this bit has eluded me, so i would appreciate source/more info on the same.

  42. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    12th May 2008, 13:19

    @sri saying about jv doing better, i wouldnt go that far, he was 9 points behind hill going into the last race and he was only 3rd i think when his tyre flew off so he had no chance of winning anyway. also the 96′ williams was miles quicker than any other car that year giving him an advantage compared to other drivers. also note he made a few mistakes during his rookie year, hamilton made a handful all year. also id say jv’s contention for the tittle was more down to hill throwing away races he should have won rather than jv beating him outright unlike hamilton on alonso last year. coming on to your point that jv then won the tittle the next year, again the williams was the fastest car by a mile (2 seconds quicker in qualifying for the 97 oz gp) he should have walked that years tittle, yet mistakes by him led to schumacher nearly beating him! in my opinion jv was over rated he made too many mistakes. hamilton doesnt seem to make many and i thought he was great yesterday.

    back to the original post about macca and bridgestone, im a hamilton fan but id agree that bridgestone cant change the compounds of tyre just because 1 driver isnt happy. hamilton has to find his own way around the problem, maybe running with more wing so he doesnt have to get so much of his grip out of the tyres. 2 be honest if he had done better in qualifying p2 or pole he would have probably won the race and none of us would have had this discussion.

    also looking ahead to monaco, i for 1 expected, likke last year that mclaren would be the quickest there, but looking at the last sector yesterday (the tight, twisty complex of corners at the end of the lap) hamilton was losing time on massa, could that be a sign of things to come in monaco??

    i think if hamilton is goign to challenge for the tittle this year hes going to have to try more adventurous strategies because ferrari has the adavantage.

  43. Most of you guys are missing the point, its not tyre wear thats the problem, but rather, internal wear within the tyre walls thats the problem. What happens is that the tyre begins to break up from inside, like happened with Michelin tyres at Indy after just a few laps.

  44. Its a problem that is well documented, and an advantage that Ferrari were always going to have when the majority of their rivals switched from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres.
    However, as always, some teams fair better than others, as do drivers. There is no doubt in my mind, as others of you have written, that Hamilton’s driving style is hard on his tyres.
    Also factor in, that he had to really dig deep in Turkey to keep pace with both the Ferrari’s. The Ferrari is the strongest car out there, and the team perfectly understand their tyres and get the best usage out of them.
    Bearing in mind Raikkonen had a first lap mishap, Hamilton only just pipped him at a pitstop despite Lewis putting in a number of real hot laps before stopping.
    Also, the tyre situation is the perfect foil for Ron Dennis and his team. It is easier to blame the tyres, than the failure of Hamilton’s race strategy and the overall car not being as competitive as the Ferrari.

  45. http://planetf1.com/story/0,18954,3213_3559034,00.html

    This somewhat confirms(if you could call it that), that it was all BS from Ron and his folks in the PR team.

  46. Sri, I think that’s the second time you’ve posted a story I have reservations about from that particular site. Who is their source? They haven’t even hinted at it.

  47. Well Keith, i also said something in brackets that it is somewhat circumspect.

  48. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/67366

    i quote Hirohide Hamashima:

    “One solution was to make the inner pressure higher, or other solutions like that (in how to use the tyre). Then we suggested a strategy of 20 laps, 18 laps, 20 laps, but finally they decided on a three-stop strategy.”

    So 2 stops were indeed possible and suggested by Bridgestone. It was purely with the aim of gaining some track positions, with which they changed their strategy. Since it was not as good as they anticipated, they blamed the bellboy, ahem, Bridgestone. If this does not prove beyond doubt that McLaren are their own worst enemies, god knows what will.

    Also another quote from the same link
    Autosport:”Did you find any problems with Heikki Kovalainen?”
    HH:”Heikki had no problems at all, it was just Lewis. He is a bit severe on the front tyre.”

    Quite a fair bit telling, isn’t it?

  49. That’s more like it! And they have a similar problem at Fuji I see…

  50. Well, but i really do feel that it is about time, that Ron and his posse’ are put in their place. How many times will Ron lie about something/ anything and bring the name McLaren to shame? About time he went out of F1. Perhaps investors would ease the pain of ours by simply booting him out of McLaren operations.

  51. Erm, i meant to say racing operations.

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