Bridgestone Preview: French Grand Prix, Le Mans
For the French Grand Prix, held at Le Mans on 15 May, Bridgestone will introduce a new asymmetric rear slick tyre. The soft option rear is Bridgestone’s first soft asymmetric offering, and features soft compound rubber in the right shoulder with extra soft compound in the left side.
Initially scheduled for first use at the postponed Japanese Grand Prix, Le Mans now represents the debut for this tyre which will provide better initial grip and warm-up performance and will provide better performance in the cold conditions that can be expected in France. The nature of the Le Mans circuit is also slippery which demands softer compound rubber to generate good grip.
Asymmetric rear slicks are required to provide good durability and stability through the nine right-handed corners whilst not sacrificing warm-up performance in the left side of the tyres which is only used five times each lap.
Le Mans can be called a stop-and-go circuit, which is to say that rather than being a flowing lap it is punctuated by a succession of heavy braking points followed by hard acceleration. Heavy braking places emphasis on the centre section of the front tyres, whilst the hard acceleration out of corners means good edge grip is important. Having said that, with its smooth tarmac and low temperature Le Mans is the least severe circuit of the year for tyres which is why the soft and medium front and rear slicks have been selected by Bridgestone.
The weather in the region is unpredictable and whilst last year was dry, in recent years the race has been interrupted by rain so Bridgestone have selected the soft wets for the fourth time this year.
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“The French GP is always popular with fans and is a large and important race for Bridgestone and our local sales companies too. I’m also pleased that we have developed a new tyre over the winter that we are using for the first time at Le Mans. It shows that we are not resting on our laurels and still working hard and constantly developing our MotoGP tyres, listening closely to the riders in an effort to provide them the best possible tyres in terms both of performance and of course safety.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Le Mans is a slippery and smooth circuit, and run early in the year when the track temperature is low, so softer compound tyres are required to generate grip and this is why we will use our new soft asymmetric rear tyre in France. We developed the extra soft compound at the end of last year and used it in Portugal and Valencia, but over the winter we have incorporated it into a soft compound asymmetric tyre which is totally new. It is designed to work when the conditions are colder to warm-up faster and provide riders with better feeling in the first stages of use.
“The circuit has quite a stop-and-go nature, although the last part of the lap is high speed. Lateral loads placed on the tyres are relatively low but good stability under braking is crucial, especially into turns three and nine which come at the end of the two straights. The circuit has an asymmetric layout that uses the right shoulders harder, hence our choice of asymmetric rear slicks.”
Source: Bridgestone Motorsport