German Grand Prix, Sachsenring: Bridgestone debrief with Shinji Aoki
An exciting German Grand Prix last Sunday saw Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa take the top step of the podium for the first time this season and move up to second in the MotoGP championship standings. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo finished second at Sachsenring to regain the championship lead, while Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso made it back-to-back podiums after taking third place in Germany.
In what has been almost a customary inclusion for the season so far, weather conditions at Sachsenring were variable, ranging from warm and sunny to cool and wet over the weekend. Sunday’s race took place in dry conditions with track temperatures around 40°C, although rain did begin to fall just as the checkered flag was waved.
Tyre selection for the race saw almost the whole field selecting the extra-hard front slick for its superior cornering stability, while rear tyre selection was split with all the CRT riders selecting the softer rear slick, while almost all of the riders on the more powerful works machines opted for the greater durability and more consistent grip of the harder rear slick.
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Extra-Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
The weather at Sachsenring was very unpredictable with rain falling for most of Friday and Saturday, yet Sunday was dry. What effect did this have on the race weekend?
“Well, apart from making conditions challenging for the riders, the rain at Sachsenring made it hard for teams to find an ideal setup for Sunday’s dry race. Both of Saturday’s sessions, as well as Friday afternoon’s FP2 were wet, meaning teams didn’t have a chance to perform longer runs on slick tyres in the same kinds of conditions we had for the race. Thankfully, we had fine weather for Sunday’s morning warm up session and this provided much needed dry track time, though overall, the unsettled weather was a detriment to teams finding an ideal race setup for dry conditions at what is a very demanding circuit.”
Sunday’s morning warm up was dry; did this not provide enough opportunity for teams to find a dry setup for the race?
“The teams, riders, as well as Bridgestone worked very hard on Sunday morning to make up for lost time. With only twenty minutes available on Sunday morning, some riders opted to make a single longer run to try and anticipate tyre performance during the race, while other riders did shorter runs on different bikes in order to find a setup that suited them. Though the dry track time for Sunday’s morning warm up was welcome, the lack of opportunity to perform race simulations on slick tyres earlier in the weekend was not an ideal situation for the teams or riders heading into the race.”
In the end, all but two of the riders on works bikes selected the harder rear slick for the race. What were the factors in this preference for the harder option?
“Sachsenring is quite an abrasive circuit and while many riders preferred the greater edge grip of the softer rear slick, when considering race tyre choice at this circuit the trade-off between edge grip and durability needs to be considered. So while the softer rear slick has the potential for better lap times, for the sake of more consistent grip levels over the duration of the race many riders selected the harder option. Also, our analysis of the rear tyres used during morning warm up prompted us to suggest to some riders from factory, as well as satellite teams, to choose the harder rear slick instead of the softer option. This recommendation was made to ensure certain riders didn’t experience excessive wear during the race.”
Source: Bridgestone Motorsport Press Release