Bridgestone does its Monaco 'homework'

The Monaco Grand Prix presents Bridgestone and its five teams - Ferrari, Sauber, Jordan, BAR and Minardi - with a set of unique challenges in terms of tyre selection, namely how to go softer without compromising durability and how to be sure of that the choice is the right one

Bridgestone does its Monaco 'homework'

The teams have been busy testing and assessing specifications for this smooth, low grip street circuit, in addition to looking ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix, and the difficult decisions have been made. The problem is that there aren't any circuits that accurately replicate the conditions at Monaco. Also, the surface has been used by road traffic all year, and some new tarmac has been laid.

Bridgestone's technical manager Hisao Suganuma says: "Monaco is one of the most difficult circuits to test and select tyres for. The fact is that we need such a soft compound for Monaco that all the circuits we test on are far too abrasive.

"A Monaco tyre would not last a lap on a normal purpose built F1 circuit. After two or three corners, there would be significant graining and understeer. This means that the tyre selection process for Monaco is quite unique and we have to cooperate with the teams far more closely."

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Bridgestone's director of motorsport, said: "Despite all the excitement of Austria where Michael [Schumacher] and Rubens [Barrichello] finished first and third, under somewhat unusual circumstances, I think it is clear that Bridgestone provided the right tyres for the job."

The honours were even between tyre companies at Monte Carlo in 2002, with Michelin and Bridgestone coming away with three (out of the old six) points placings each. An enthralling wheel-to-wheel chase through the streets ended with Michael Schumacher locked into second place behind Michelin runner David Coulthard.

This year both Michelin and Bridgestone have partner teams which have significantly upped their games, principally Renault and BAR. BAR's technical director Geoff Willis thinks Bridgestone has done its homework: "The impact of tyre performance is critical at Monaco as tyres represent a bigger overall percentage of performance than usual, owing to the slippery surface.

"We've done a great deal of testing with Bridgestone in recent weeks and have confidence in their strategy."

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