Analysis: tyres heat up title battle

The manner of Lewis Hamilton's victory at Hockenheim two weeks ago pointed to his McLaren team having edged clear of Ferrari in the development race

But Bridgestone believes that the different ways the two teams are using their tyres could be playing just as big a role in their fluctuating title fortunes.

Ferrari were left baffled by their lack of pace in the German Grand Prix, as Hamilton cruised to his second consecutive victory despite a failed strategy gamble by his team.

However, with Ferrari now suggesting that their form was affected by their car not being able to use the tyres available at the race, Bridgestone too believes that tyre usage could be a big factor in explaining recent events.

McLaren's MP4-23 is known to be harder on its tyres than Ferrari's F2008 - with the operating temperature of the tyres between the two teams varying by up to 10°C.

And, with Hockenheim having been cooler than expected, such a scenario could have meant McLaren were simply better able to get their tyres up to a proper operating temperature.

Bridgestone's director of motorsport tyre development Hirohide Hamashima told in Hungary that he believes tyre usage was a contributing factor.

"It is not totally sure, but Ferrari could be very gentle for the tyres and the McLaren a little bit aggressive for their tyres," he said. "So McLaren could generate the proper temperatures for the tyre under those conditions.

"If it had been hot, then maybe McLaren would have faced overheating with their tyres - and Ferrari could have got the proper conditions for them."

Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa said in Hungary that his team's form in Hockenheim was hit hard by the tyre choice available.

"I think the last race for us was very difficult for finding the good grip from the tyres, but we were not the only team. Most of the drivers were having, during the race mainly, a lot of problems to find grip.

"The tyres were very, very hard, probably too hard for that kind of circuit, especially the hard tyre. There was no wear at all; the tyre just was not working for that kind of circuit. This was valid for us and it was valid as well for most of the teams."

Hamashima accepts that, with hindsight, the choice of tyres for Hockenheim was probably too conservative - but that is only because the weather was much cooler than they had expected.

"Of course after the race we can comment very easily. This compound was a little bit too hard, but nobody could predict the actual weather because we faced many times very, very hot conditions at Hockenheim and then we had many troubles," he said.

"Sometimes we could not find the root cause, sometimes we could - so we decided to choose the compound for Hockenheim with a little bit of a conservative choice.

"The conditions at Hockenheim were a little bit cooler than usual, so if we think about that, our choice could have been a little conservative.

"But we had to think about the very, very hot conditions. If that had been the case, the teams would have a high risk of blistering, and that is very dangerous for F1. That is my opinion."

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