Barcelona now easier on tyres
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, January 20th 2005, 12:01 GMT|
The asphalt revisions made to the Circuit du Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, appear to have made the track less demanding on cars and tyres – which could rob the sport of one of its most technically challenging events.
Although the new asphalt layer grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week after oil seeping through the surface forced BAR and Sauber to change its testing plans because of a lack of grip, the teams that did go ahead and test have found a very different challenge to what they expected.
The new less grippy surface, which despite a few major bumps is generally smoother than before, has meant that the circuit is no longer as demanding on tyres – which will mean the grand prix will no longer be among the worst in terms of tyre degradation.
It was generally accepted that the Barcelona track was one of the toughest of the season in terms of tyre wear – meaning that the grand prix often proved a headache for teams, tyre manufacturers and drivers to get the rubber to last a race stint. This year would have been even worse because of the need to make tyres last an entire race distance.
After the first few days of testing on the track, Bridgestone's technical manager Hisao Suganuma claimed that the type of tyres previously required at Barcelona were now too hard – and that ultimately means teams will not face as great a challenge to find the perfect tyres.
"The track is very smooth now and there is a good possibility that it has become a less aggressive track," Suganuma told autosport.com. "So far I have an impression that we could go a bit softer now. The level of friction has gone down definitely – and it is at a similar level to Imola now.
"However, to say just how less aggressive it has become is hard to say because the layout of the track is still tough and it has a few high speed corners with high lateral G-forces."
Suganuma was keen to point out, however, that his verdict on the changing characteristics of the track surface was an initial judgement made from first running this week – and further testing that puts more rubber down on the track could highlight potentially different tyre needs.