New F1 tyre rules raise safety concerns

The FIA's altered 2003 F1 rain tyre regulations [Oct 28] have led to a flurry of activity by both suppliers in preparing for this week's Spanish tests in Barcelona, Jerez and Valencia where, if it rains, the emphasis will be on safety. Bridgestone Motorsport technical manager Hisao Suganuma commented: "Reducing the range of rain tyres available to just one specification does have safety implications, but we have to work within the new regulations."

New F1 tyre rules raise safety concerns

Both Bridgestone and Michelin place great importance on the testing this week. "Now that we can have only one type of wet-weather tyre, we may have to develop a new pattern that is capable of working in a wide range of wet conditions," Suganuma continued. "The essential component of a good wet-weather racing tyre is the correct balance between the stiffness of the compound and the block stiffness in the pattern. As a consequence, the compound may have to change, too.

"I would prefer to have at least two types of rain tyre allowed at each event. Weather conditions are unpredictable. Even though the decision on which specification to take to each race will be taken very carefully, in the end the weather may not be as expected, and the tyre may not suit the particular conditions we encounter on any given day. In my view, a choice of tyre is necessary. But we will respect the FIA's decision and look for the best possible solution."

In contrast, the new rules governing dry-weather tyre allow for potentially many specifications at each event. Suganuma: "The new proposals for dry-weather tyres do not alter the number of sets of tyres allowed, which will remain at 10 sets per driver, but they do allow for a greater number of specifications - that is, two for each team. Our target is still to make to best specification to suit all our teams' cars. But there is also the possibility that the size, the shape or the construction could be different between teams.

"Clearly, this means more work for us - more development work and more testing. We will work hard to make the best tyres possible, as we have done in the past. With this approach I believe we will find that the best specifications will suit most, and even all, our cars."

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