Ferrari want softer Bridgestone tyres

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Felipe Massa on soft tyres at Hungary - Ferrari want even softer rubber

An interesting article on Autosport yesterday gives some more insight into how McLaren have suddenly got the upper hand in the world championship battle.

Ferrari believe part of McLaren’s advantage has been because the tyres supplied by Bridgestone at recent events have suited the MP4/23 better than the F2008.

With Bridgestone yet to announce their tyre choices for the final races of, are Ferrari putting pressure on them to bring softer tyres?

McLaren has generally been harder on its tyres than Ferrari has this year. But in recent races Mclaren seems to have improved the way it uses its tyres. How much of that is down to the tyres themselves, and how much is down to technical improvements on the MP4/23, is the crucial question.

Bridgestone has four compounds to choose from for each race weekend: hard, medium, soft and super-soft. Ferrari’s Aldo Costa reckons the medium and hard tyres brought to Hockenheim were the wrong choice:

The tyres were very, very hard, probably too hard for that kind of circuit, especially the hard tyre. There was no wear at all; the tyre just was not working for that kind of circuit. This was valid for us and it was valid as well for most of the teams.

Inevitably you have to think, “well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

Bridgestone announced their tyre allocations for the second half of 2008 two months ago. Until this year F1 hadn’t raced at the Hockenheimring since the tyre war ended, so Bridgestone had no experience of bringing their new tyres to the track.

As Hockenheim is usually very hot they erred on the side of caution. Had they brought tyres that were too soft we might have seen the kind of debacle NASCAR suffered at Indianapolis last weekend.

So are Ferrari just whingeing? When I posted the article on the live blog during qualifying yesterday Doctorvee didn’t have much sympathy for them:

They can hardly complain after all the years of Bridgestone designing tyres specifically for Ferrari.

This is a reference to the ‘tyre war’ years of 2001-2006, when Ferrari’s rivals one by one moved to Michelin as Bridgestone’s tyres became every more closesly tailored to Ferrari and Michael Schumacher’s preference.

But if we look at the tyre allocations for upcoming races we can see why Ferrari are concerned:

RacePrime tyreOption tyre (white stripe)
Hungarian Grand Prix, HungaroringSoftSuper-soft
European Grand Prix, Circuito Urbano ValenciaSoftSuper-soft
Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-FrancorchampsHardMedium
Italain Grand Prix, MonzaHardMedium

Valencia is a leap into the unknown but as street circuits tend to be low-grip Bridgestone are bringing their softest tyres. At Spa and Monza Bridgestone are bringing tyres that are harder than they used in 2007, when they brought the Medium and Soft compounds to both.

Bridgestone will probably be announcing their tyre choices for the final four races soon. Ferrari’s complaints about tyre choice may be an effort to put pressure on Bridgestone to bring softer tyres that suit the Ferrari better. To add weight to their claim, Costa suggested other teams thought the Hockenheim tyres were too hard as well (“this was valid for us and it was valid as well for most of the teams”).

This effectively give Bridgestone an enormous say in which teams are going to be competitive over the final races.

Bridgestone has already said that next year it will bring tyres that have a greater difference in performance to each round. That might make it easier for teams to use a tyre that suits their car best.

But the tyre allocations for Singapore, Japan, China and Brazil could play a very important role in deciding the championships this year.

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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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22 comments on “Ferrari want softer Bridgestone tyres”

  1. Lady Snowcat
    3rd August 2008, 9:58

    The change for Monza and Spa could be the nail in the coffin for Ferrari…

    McLaren, given their current car superiority, could easily walk away with the championship by the time we get to Singapore, which is likely to favour Macca anyway….

    Perhaps we’ll forget the rest of this year and start 2009 now….

  2. Agreed Lady Snowcat, certainly looks like it going to happen that way. Unless Ferrari can figure out what going wrong with their car………..and maybe Raikkonen?? ;-)

  3. More favoritism from Bridgestone towards Ferrari. I don’t mind the two tires rule, but they should give the teams the option to decide which two tires to use and not Bridgestone.

  4. Now, now Dorian…

    Nothing wrong with Kimi… just needs to get the car working in qualy for him…. and actually these tyre choices will hurt him more than Massa…

    The fact that he doesn’t wreck the tyres could have worked to his advantage at Silverstone but the rain came and we know the result… in the race at Hockenheim in his final stint on soft tyres which was for nearly half the race distance, attempted by nearly no-one else (he did 2 stints on the softs there, he overtook more guys than anyone else…. he came from 12th up to 6th and most of that came by actually overtaking…

    Why was he 12th?… he’s had to stack up behind Massa from 4th and the 14-15 seconds he lost due to that was reduced to abot 5seconds by the end of the race….

    So I think you’ll find in most of the races Kimi has been pretty good but the way the Ferrari uses it’s tyres and his style have hurt him in qualy and it’ll only get worse by the look of things…

  5. Funny. Expressing your thoughts invites all sorts of interpretations. Hell, aren’t they allowed to even try and give a reason on why they weren’t up to the mark? If they don’t open their mouth then we brand them “un expressive”. And I think every one will agree that the control tyres don’t have anything in common with the yesteryear Bridgestone tyres. If Ferrari are gonna gain an advantage from Bridgestone, it’s goign to be in the personnel level. To suggest Ferrari are best poised to use their Bridgestones just because they used them in the past doesn’t sound not too wise.

  6. Lady Snowcat: Stop using Ferrari and the tires as excuses for Kimi. We got that the whole of last year and it was at least believable. But now he’s the WDC, had a whole year and a half in the car and tires and he’s still having the same problems? Looks like he’s not exactly “the fastest man in F1”.

  7. Internet…

    You and I won’t agree on this one… you’ll see it your way and I mine…

    I was at Hockenheim and know what I saw which was that Kimi actually overtook more guys than anyone else and started on the highest fuel load…. but if you want to ignore that then you must go ahead….

    Back to tyres…. the choices are clearly going to benefit Macca at Spa and Monza….

  8. Paul Sainsbury
    3rd August 2008, 10:28

    Yeah, Kimi at Silverstone was pants.

  9. @Lady Snowcat: Kimi was in a Ferrari. He’s expected to overtake slower cars when he is 12th and has nothing to lose. Hamilton overtaking Massa and Piquet when he had everything to lose was more impressive.

  10. And Paul…

    Again you and I won’t agree…

    Kimi wasn’t pants… only a few drivers could have managed on those slicks in the pouring rain… and he kept going and scored points…

    His only errors in races have been when Ferrari have put him on the back foot by an error and he’s been trying to race through the field… at least he tries and he’s made more moves up from a low position than anyone else…

    On the other hand he hasn’t actually made a totally idiotic move all season…. unlike others I could mention…

    But we are talking about tyres….

  11. Sorry but he had everything to lose Internet and I guess you didn’t see the moves, which happened right in front of me, as did the Massa move by Lewis….

    If you think Kubica, Alonso and Trulli make it easy to overtake then you haven’t been watching the same guys…

    Massa however did open the door…

  12. I don’t think Raikkonen has been significantly better or worse than any of his championship rivals this year.

    He had strong races, he’s had weak races, and yes he has made mistakes: he spun at Melbourne and at Monte-Carlo he rear-ended Adrian Sutil.

    He has been a little more unfortunate than the others so far – particularly with the exhaust and Hamilton hitting him in Montreal.

    But you can’t point to something like the safety car at Hockenheim as an example of bad luck – it wouldn’t have been a problem if he’d been ahead of Massa, and that’s all down to him. And it’s not the first time Massa’s been well ahead of Raikkonen and left everyone wondering why. (More on Raikkonen’s season so far here)

    But let’s get back to the point. This is about Ferrari and Bridgestone.

    Internet, I don’t think we can call this ‘Ferrai favouritism’ just yet – after all Bridgestone aren’t giving Ferrari the tyres they want right now are they? Of course, if Bridgestone picks soft and super-soft for the last four races that’s a different matter…

  13. @Lady Snowcat: The performance difference between the Ferrari and what the guys you’ve listed drive is massive. You’d expect Kimi in a Ferrari to pass those guys. Nothing to shout home about.

  14. Interesting: “If it had been hot, then maybe McLaren would have faced overheating with their tyres – and Ferrari could have got the proper conditions for them.”

    Now Hungary is hot enough I guess, let’s how well Ferrari will do, at least the lost of the all important grid positions wasn’t because their “harder” tyres. Cause I’m 100% sure now that they got them soft enough, because Massa even found the hard one faster for him.

    IMO Ferrari are just seeking troubles for McLaren.

    Most teams complained about the lack of grip? Yeah, of course, grip is always a problem, if team like Force India, Honda… could find more grip they wouldn’t be that slow, would they? But we all know it’s much more of their car problems than the tyre problem for them. And look at BMW inn Germany, they set the fastest lap, and Toyata outqualified Ferrari there, Renault was 2nd/was as fast as Ferrari in the last stint. I see they all will join Ferrari to complain too, had they found more grip, some of they might have even won.

  15. Meanwhile, about those tyres. It strikes me that Bridgestone have a tricky decision to make (having to choose tyres compounds far in advance of a race, and with a substantial range of climactic conditions and chassis designs to deal with).

    I’m a little surprised they haven’t designed their tyre range to work over a wider temperature range, though perhaps that is simply impractical (hopefully someone will put that question to Bridgestone, though).

    In the meantime, it seems McLaren and Ferrari have both gambled somewhat in designing their cars with extremes of behaviour (Ferrari needing especially soft tyres, McLaren hard *).

    * Just to acknowledge reading that McLaren have been working on it, and improved recently. For now though, they retain their reputation for working tyres harder. Hockenheim bears this out to some extent, as it seems more a case of Ferrari being slow than McLaren fast in comparison to the average.

  16. Bridgestone just has to be consistent and have a published policy against which individual compound selections can be accountable.

    The comment about Bridgestone serving Ferrari in the Michelin years is frankly a bit weird.

    There should be more attention on the engine and standard ECU controls. The regulators and the aggrieved should be having a good look at themselves given just how many dollars every hp or 1/4sec gained in corner or start line traction is worth.

    You can’t blame those legally taking advantage.

  17. If MCLs designing their cars suitable for hard ones and Ferraris for the soft ones, why the teams can not make their choice from the all available options(Harder/Hard/Soft/Super-soft)? If they want to race that way then let them do so!
    That should make race interesting.. i mean for the same race MCLs using Hard/medium options and Ferraris Soft/Super Soft

  18. Good idea but it would be a cost issue Nirupam. Logistics of 4 tyres, current regs of using both compounds is to lower the number of tyres to the event and the number left over also.

  19. I agree with Motion. Also, surely the teams can design a car for a certain range of tyres? It can’t always go Ferrari’s way. I think they’re better than that. Surely, they’re good enough to adapt?

  20. I would suggest give the teams all four set of tires. Let them use any two compounds as they want. This will let the teams stop pointing fingers at others. That way, we can let Ferrari keep their favorite two tires, make the cars only for those two tires for the season, train the drivers for only those two tires, and win the championship.

    Can someone say what set of compounds were used in the past years on Spa and Monza? If they are the same as previous years, did they complain in the previous years too? Or did they just take it like in the stride because they were in significant lead in the points at that time?

  21. Macademia – Bridgestone brought medium and soft to Spa and Monza last year (see above). Before that it was the tyre war years so this system of having four different compounds for every team wasn’t being used.

  22. Thanks Keith, missed that paragraph in the writeup. So, looks like the sole supplier rule is indeed affecting Ferrari (against all conventional wisdom!). In the previous years, Ferrari (almost) had their own tire supplier, while everyone had to work with Michellin.

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