Bridgestone aims for Brazil fightback

Japanese tyre manufacturer Bridgestone is hoping to turn the tables on French rivals, Michelin, in Brazil next weekend. Out of a total of six possible podium places in the first two races of the 2003 Formula 1 World Championship, Michelin has taken five. It's early days yet but still a disappointing statistic for the Japanese company.

Bridgestone aims for Brazil fightback

"Admittedly the first two grands prix of the season have not been as rewarding as hoped but that has only served to spur us on," said Hiroshi Yasukawa, Bridgestone's director of motorsport. "It seems we have some true competition this year and I look forward with great anticipation to the Brazilian round.

"Michael (Schumacher) won on Bridgestone tyres in Brazil last year and we are quietly confident that our tyres will give our teams the performance they need to put them on the podium next weekend."

History does not entirely support this, with Juan Pablo Montoya the fastest man and polesitter in 2002 and Ralf Schumacher with the fastest lap of the race in 2001 - on French rubber. But three wins in three years means technical manager Hisao Suganuma is also 'quietly confident': "We have been working hard evaluating the slightly disappointing results of the past few weeks and we're confident that our tyres will be competitive next weekend.

"The nature of the Brazilian circuit and the slightly more abrasive track surface compared to say, Malaysia, is such that we need to make sure that our tyres perform consistently - especially the rear tyres," he added. "Whilst the range of the tyres for the first three races is roughly the same i.e. mid to soft, we have made minor adjustments to the compound of some of our tyres to suit the Interlagos circuit."

In the event, much will depend on the weather, the progress the companies have made over the winter and, of course, the performances of the partner teams. A question mark still hangs over Michelin's wet weather tyre performance, as it seems to do over the Bridgestones in excessively hot conditions, and Brazil can provide either, or both, of these.

Potential transport upheavals, due to the Middle East situation, have prompted Bridgestone to send an advance consignment of approximately 500 'back-up' tyres to Brazil. The tyres have already been sent by air from Bridgestone's UK base in Langley, Berkshire. Over a thousand of the latest specification compounds will still be sent directly from Japan.

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