Teams push Bridgestone to increase tests
|By Jonathan Noble
||Thursday, September 14th 2006, 16:49 GMT
Tyre supplier Bridgestone are coming under pressure from a number of teams to increase winter testing this year after proposing a very limited programme of running after the season.
With Bridgestone becoming F1's single tyre supplier at the end of the year, the company have proposed a cut-back in running because of the logistical and production headaches they will have from supplying the entire grid.
The company informed the teams prior to the Italian Grand Prix that they want to limit pre-Christmas testing to just two three-day tests. This compares with the 13 days that most teams conducted last season in November and December.
BMW-Sauber technical director Willi Rampf said the current limited test programme would hurt those teams trying out new elements of their package, which is why the teams are pushing Bridgestone to increase the programme.
"From a purely technical point of view, if you have to try out different things, like a new engine or a new driver, then it will be difficult," he told autosport.com. "I think the teams are still in discussions about it, with Bridgestone and the FIA, to find a compromise."
Williams boss Frank Williams was more outspoken about the matter - primarily because his team will be switching to Toyota power units next year.
"There is a lot of anguish about next year's tyre supplier really restricting it (testing)," he said. "A team in the mire, which at the same time is also changing its engine and has many new technical matters to deal with has a problem. A lot of hard words have been said."
Bridgestone's director of motorsport Hiroshi Yasukawa said that he was trying to find a solution that would satisfy the teams, the FIA and his company.
"As you are aware, our rival has decided to leave Formula One at the end of the 2006 season," he said. "Bridgestone has therefore inherited the single tyre supplier status a year ahead of our tender commencing in 2008.
"Instead of supplying and servicing tyres for five teams we will within a matter of weeks have to cater for 11 teams. Bridgestone, the teams and the FIA are all currently discussing tyre supply for 2007.
"We have to balance the requests of the teams, with the desire of the FIA to reduce costs in F1, while understanding Bridgestone's priority of safety and our current production and logistical capacity. We are confident that a suitable compromise can be made."
Although testing from January to the start of the season has also been reduced, it has not caused too much concern for the teams. They have currently pencilled in three five-day tests, plus the option to run during a car launch at a track.
Williams said: "From January 1 there is an accommodation that is comfortable for both sides. It saves money and gives team enough time."