Italian Grand Prix, Mugello: Bridgestone Preview
The fast and flowing Mugello circuit is a fan favourite but particularly demanding on tyres because of the high speed, heavy braking and marked elevation changes. In response, and as part of work to ensure ongoing improvement, this year Bridgestone will bring asymmetric rear slick tyres to the 5.245km Italian venue.
With nine right-handed corners and six lefts, the left shoulders of the rear tyres are now softer than they were last year with this introduction of asymmetric rear slicks, meaning improved warm-up performance and grip on the lesser-used side of the tyres. This is one of the five additional circuits that we will bring asymmetric rear slicks to compared to last year.
There are several facets of Mugello that combine to make it such a challenge for tyres. The circuit is grippy and abrasive which means that tyre wear is generally higher; temperature is usually high in the region with track temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius not uncommon; there are a proliferation of long and high speed corners which demand good edge grip; and several downhill heavy braking areas that place high loads on the front tyres. The circuit has also been resurfaced this year and a lot of the bumps removed, but from tests at the venue with Ducati this year analysis shows that the grip is good and abrasion is similar to the old surface.
The high straight-line speed also places significant loads on the centre section of the tyres. Last year Dani Pedrosa set a new lap record with an average speed of 172.39km/h, making it the third fastest circuit on the calendar, and in 2009 Pedrosa set a top speed record of 349.3km/h. Along with Catalunya, Motegi and Sepang it is the hardest circuit for the centre section of the rear tyres.
Last year Pedrosa won from pole to take his first victory of the year ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso. This year the race is run one month later at the start of July, and as round eight of the season, and having missed the last three rounds with a broken collarbone, Pedrosa is hoping to return to action at Mugello.
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Mugello is always a spectacular venue for MotoGP, and I’m sure this year there will be even more atmosphere as it is the first Italian race with Valentino on a Ducati! It is Casey at the front of the championship standings however, and the man who has quickly established himself as the rider to beat this season, and coming from his dominating victory at Silverstone and second at Assen his confidence and momentum will be very high. Mugello is the fourth race in five weeks as the championship really accelerates during the summer months, but it is important to keep momentum and motivation high as there are still two races to go before the end of the month. After the mixed conditions at Silverstone and Assen everyone will be hoping for a dry and warmer weekend to really get a measure of performance as we approach the midpoint of the season.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Mugello is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar and is tough on tyres because of this speed, the track temperature that can reach above 50 degrees Celsius, and its technically demanding nature. Run one month later this year, in the height of European summer, track temperature will potentially play even more of an important role. With tyre wear likely to be higher with the increased temperature, bike setup and riding style must be optimised to use the tyres in the most efficient way. This year we have selected asymmetric rear slick tyres for Mugello to improve warm-up performance on the left side and give the riders a more consistent feeling throughout the lap through the nine right-hand corners and the six lefts.
“The track has been resurfaced but traditionally is grippy and abrasive and there are significant elevation changes which add to the challenge. From data we have gained during the Ducati tests at Mugello this season I can say that the surface is much smoother and we expect tyre wear to be similar to last year so, apart from bringing asymmetric rear slicks this time, we have not changed our basic compound selection. The numerous heavy braking points, especially those that are downhill, demand a strong front tyre for good braking stability, whilst the many high speed corners require good stability and shoulder grip from the rear tyre. Around the left-handers, this is where our asymmetric rear slicks will be of particular benefit. Top speed is one of the highest of the season and this puts significant strain on the centre section of the tyres so a strong carcass and construction are required for straight-line stability.”
Source: Bridgestone Motorsport