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F1 NEWS 

Bridgestone downplays degradation issues

Bridgestone slick tyresBridgestone is confident that teams will quickly adapt to the challenges of setting up their cars to work with the new slick tyres, despite complaints of chronic rear degradation in earlier testing.

The switch to slicks has not resulted in a change in tyre dimensions, which means the contact patch at the front has increased more than the rear - leading to increased oversteer.

This characteristic resulted in drivers struggling with heavy rear tyre wear over long runs during early winter testing last year.

But Bridgestone's motorsport chief engineer Jun Matsuzaki is confident that teams will get to grips with the issue before the start of the season.

"It is still early days for the teams working on their understanding of the slick tyres and the aerodynamic regulations, so we would expect improvements in all areas of how teams use their tyres," Matsuzaki told autosport.com.

"Jerez's circuit layout is one which is harsh on the rear tyres. Also, Jerez in December is colder than we will see during the season, so there was graining on the rear tyres and this led to greater degradation than we would see in warmer weather.

"Tyre dimension is a factor, but tyre compound and construction play a big part too. The construction of the rear tyres was upgraded for the move to slicks to maintain the balance of fronts and rears.

"The balance of the grip created by tyres is still a little on the oversteer side, but this is something which will be countered by car set-up as teams learn how best to use these tyres."

Matsuzaki added that looking after tyres both in terms of car setup and driving style will continue to be a vital part of the competitive puzzle in 2009.

The new aerodynamic regulations, which are designed to reduce the downforce of cars, mean that tyres are now even more significant in terms of the overall grip.

"Tyre management was crucial in 2008 and it will also be crucial in 2009. The factors for this management have changed due to the new regulations, so it will be interested to watch the teams and drivers evolve their understanding through the year."

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