Bridgestone evaluate new tyre markings
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, March 27th 2007, 08:52 GMT|
Bridgestone are set to make changes to Formula One's tyre marking system that was introduced at the Australian Grand Prix, autosport.com can reveal, with new ideas being tested in Malaysia this week.
Following a last-minute change to the regulations on the eve of the season, Bridgestone have to make each of the two tyre compounds they bring to races 'visibly' distinguishable when the car is on the track.
The solution adopted for the season opener in Melbourne was for a three-centimetre diameter white circle to be painted onto the outside of the soft compound tyre.
Over the Australian weekend, however, it became clear that the circle was not big enough to be visible once the cars were moving - even at slow speed in the pitlane. This left several leading figures frustrated at the situation.
BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen told autosport.com in Australia: "I think it could be good if every spectator understands what goes on. And if the spectators don't understand it, then we should not do it.
"We need to make it clear what type of tyres people are running. The current idea is not a solution because they (the circles) are difficult to see when the car is still, and as soon as the car is moving there is no chance."
Although a more permanent answer, which could involve fully painted sidewalls, has been ruled out until the Spanish Grand Prix because of tyre production schedules, a stop-gap solution could be used in Malaysia and Bahrain if tests this week are successful.
Sources have revealed that Bridgestone are considering two different options at F1's Sepang test this week to see if they improve the situation. Williams' Alexander Wurz tried them out for the first time in the final runs of today's test.
The first option is for a large bright red circle to be painted on the outside of the tyre. This will be about three-times bigger than the white version used in Melbourne.
The second idea is to have a white line sprayed at the bottom of the outside groove of the tyre, which is visible from the front. Williams technical director Sam Michael first suggested this idea to autosport.com in Australia.
"A better solution would be to paint the bottom of the grooves," he said. "The grooves don't wear, so you would see a white stripe from the front view.
"You could maybe paint one groove, maybe the outside one, on all the tyres - although that is quite a bit of work for Bridgestone."
Although Bridgestone are open to either of the ideas, sources have revealed that the white line is more complicated to produce so the red circle would be their favoured option for the next few races.
Both methods were trialled on Wurz's car at Sepang today.
Bridgestone's head of trackside engineering operations Kees van der Grint said his company were keen to ensure that the marking system worked and was useful for fans.
"I think it should be open for discussion for the future," he said in Australia. "This is a rule that the FIA came up with very late, so we have just followed what the FIA wanted. I don't know if it will satisfy, but maybe there is the need for some discussion for the future."