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Bridgestone digest: Spanish Grand Prix

Bridgestone digest: Spanish Grand Prix

Tyres were a major talking point in Jerez last weekend, as MotoGP™ riders voiced their feelings. The majority felt that the front compounds available were too soft for the Circuito de Jerez. Bridgestone reviews the event.

Masao Azuma, the Chief Engineer for Bridgestone’s Motorsport Tyre Development Department, discusses the Jerez situation as well as the development of 2014 tyres.

Track temperatures were the highest they’ve been in recent years at Jerez, but all riders chose the softer rear slick option available to them. Can you explain the reason for this?

To see track temperatures in the mid 50°C range at the first race of the European season is unusual, but the harder rear slick options we brought were for such a possibility. With such high temperatures, it was expected that some riders would select harder rear slicks for the race, but the greasy track conditions meant riders chose softer rears to give them the highest level of cornering grip.

Some riders said that the drive grip - the grip when the rider picks up the machine from full lean angle when accelerating out of corners - was better on the harder rear slick, but edge grip - important at the flowing Jerez circuit - was better on the softer rear option, even in the very hot temperatures. Race simulations in practice revealed that the rate of wear on the softer rear slicks was sufficient for the race distance and that is why every rider selected the softer rear tyre on Sunday.

The fact that the wide operating temperature range and durability of our softer rubber compounds provided consistent performance over a race distance is positive for us. We had a similar situation at Austin two weeks ago. At that time only two riders selected the harder rear for the race, but the difference is that one of those riders ended up winning the race! In that case riders could lap at a similar pace with the harder rear tyre, whereas at Jerez they could not. We believe this was due to the characteristics of the tarmac and the very high track temperatures in Spain.

We will now analyse the data we have from the race to see if there are any lessons to be learned for our future tyre development and race compound selection.

Front tyre choice was also uniform across the grid, but in this case the riders selected the harder option - the Medium compound. This seems at odds with the rear tyre selection.

Just as the layout of Jerez requires a high amount of edge grip from the rear tyre to maintain good corner speed, it also requires a great deal of stability from the front end under braking and cornering. Also, when you consider that track temperatures at the beginning of last year’s race were 30°C cooler than this year, we must also consider Warm-Up performance, so our front slick tyre compounds for Jerez were the Soft and Medium compounds.

The high track temperatures we experienced this weekend meant that Warm-Up performance wasn’t such an important factor and so rider choice shifted towards the harder front slick option to give them the most front end stability. Even though the track conditions were challenging, there isn’t a big difference in overall grip level between our two front options at Jerez, so riders chose the option that gave them better stability in braking and especially cornering.

Some riders did comment that they would have liked a harder front tyre at Jerez this year but, considering the exceptionally hot weather compared to previous years, I think the balance of our compound selection was correct.

We are three races into the season and each race has presented markedly different track and weather conditions. Have you learned anything new about the performance of the 2013 MotoGP machines that could contribute to a change in future tyre design?

We are constantly collecting and analysing tyre data, telemetry and rider feedback as part of our MotoGP tyre development programme. As we know, the machine weight has increased by three kilograms this year, and so we are investigating what affect this change - plus the fact that teams have now had a year to develop their chassis, electronics and power delivery to work with our latest generation of MotoGP tyres - has had on tyre performance and will apply these lessons to the development for our next generation of tyres.

After pre-season testing and three races we now have a substantial amount of data with which to start developing the tyres for 2014, which we will present to riders for evaluation later in the year.

Press release courtesy of Bridgestone MotoGP


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