Q & A with Bridgestone's Hamashima

Tyres were a major talking point over the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, with lower than expected temperatures leaving teams and drivers with a difficult choice in which type of compound to take

Q & A with Bridgestone's Hamashima

On the back of that, McLaren found themselves having to put Lewis Hamilton onto a three-stop strategy after problems were found inside his tyres after Friday practice.

Autosport.com caught up with Bridgestone's director of motorsport tyre development Hirohide Hamashima in Istanbul to get his version of the weekend's events.

Q. This weekend proved very difficult with tyre choice, with drivers not able to make their mind up on what tyre was best, and different cars running different strategies. Was that purely down to the lower temperature?

Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development: Yes, that is maybe one of the reasons. But of course some teams used their past experiences, and Ferrari did that. Other teams used only their test data from this weekend. I believe that decided the strategy and explains why there were many varieties.

Q. Did the rubbering in of the track this weekend help the option tyre's graining problems you experienced on Friday?

HH: This time, the track surface improvement was not as much as we expected. That, and perhaps the weather being a bit cooler, could explain why there was not much difference between the medium and hard tyres.

Q. Can you explain the situation regarding McLaren this weekend?

HH: It is important to explain last year's troubles first. In 2007 we had a delamination of the tyre shoulder. At Turn 8 the front tyre rolls over (to the outside) because of the big lateral load. So the outside of the front tyre has a very small area working too much. That is why we had a delamination with Lewis. It was a big delamination with Lewis, but we found a small failure with every other driver.

So we improved the construction of the tyre over the winter, to improve the strength. So this weekend we didn't see any more trouble like we had last year - even with Lewis Hamilton.

But the cars are a little bit quicker this year and somehow Lewis's driving technique is different to other guys. So we found inside the tyre a small failure on the tyres.

Q. Was this only on the right front?

HH: Yes, the right front again. It was inside the sidewall area. So we discussed with McLaren about it and how to fix the troubles.

One solution was to make the inner pressure higher, or other solutions like that (in how to use the tyre). Then we suggested a strategy of 20 laps, 18 laps, 20 laps, but finally they decided on a three-stop strategy.

Q. And it was the same with both compounds of tyres?

HH: This is not related to the compound softness. It was a construction problem.

Q. Did you find any problems with Heikki Kovalainen?

HH: Heikki had no problems at all, it was just Lewis. He is a bit severe on the front tyre.

Q. Did you just advise McLaren to do it, or did you order them?

HH: It was not that they must do it. But we proposed a strategy of 20/18/20, if they took a two-stop strategy. That is what we would have preferred because the second stint is usually very severe, as you start at a very high level - and also the fuel is very high.

Q. The most extreme corners on the calendar for the tyres are Turn 8 here, and 100R at Fuji. Do you think what happened here is something you need to look at again before the Japanese Grand Prix?

HH: Fuji, of course, is very difficult. The problem there is shoulder delamination but we have now confidence on this issue so there should be no problem. Here in Turkey, it is a very, very specific corner - very long, with 4.5G. So it makes troubles for the race.

Q. Have you experienced this internal failure anywhere before?

HH: In other racing categories yes, but only many years ago.

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