Bridgestone has proposed a change to its tyre allocation procedure for the rest of the season in response to the warm-up issues that have caused so many accidents recently. From the Czech Republic Grand Prix onwards, the Japanese company will introduce a new soft compound as a third option available for riders during the weekend.
Last weekend's German Grand Prix was particularly testing as no fewer than four riders crashed in the first free practice session, with cold tyre temperatures identified as the cause. Bridgestone have now acted and Hiroshi Yamada, Manager of the Bridgestone Motorsport Department revealed that the changes came after discussions with the competitors.
“We have worked hard with the FIM, Dorna and the riders to make this proposal and the necessary regulation amendments and we make these significant changes to our tyre compound allocation procedure as part of our ongoing efforts to focus more on improving warm-up performance. When rider comments about warm-up performance started last year, we developed the extra soft compound rubber for the rear tyres to improve the situation.”
“Then at the start of this year we already selected softer compound options for five of the first nine races, again to provide tyres that warm-up more quickly. Then during the Italian Grand Prix we decided to bring softer spec rears to a further six of the remaining nine races, and with this latest change to our tyre approach we very much hope to arrive at a situation where the riders feel satisfied with the extra tyre choices they have each weekend and more comfortable with additional softer tyres in the cooler morning sessions. The introduction of FP1 on Friday morning this year changed the situation for us because conditions are never ideal on Friday morning and this is when we have seen most of the crashes.”
“Nevertheless, we take rider safety very seriously and of course we are sorry to have seen the crashes that we have this year and want to avoid such unnecessary occurrences. I hope this fundamental change to the Official Tyre Supplier situation demonstrates that we listen to riders and have long been working towards such a compromise to make them feel safer and more comfortable and confident in the warm-up performance of our tyres.”
Following Laguna Seca, the new third option will be available with the total number of front slicks allocated for the weekend increased to nine. On the Thursday of each event, every rider will be allocated five front slick tyres: 2 harder options, 2 medium options and 1 new softer third option, specifically for the cooler morning session. After FP2, riders will then be able to choose which compounds they want to receive for their final four front tyres, making a total of nine.
The allocation of rear slick tyres has also been revised following discussions at the Italian Grand Prix. Riders will still receive two rear compound choices but a softer option will be brought to six of the nine remaining races (all except Indianapolis, Malaysia and Valencia) from Brno onwards.
The allocation procedure for rear tyres has been changed to mimic that of the fronts. On Thursday, every rider will be allocated eight rear slicks, 4 harder and 4 softer. After FP2, riders will then be able to choose how they receive their final two rear tyres, making up their allocation of ten for the weekend.
These changes will come into force for the Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno in August while softer rear slicks incorporating Bridgestone's extra soft compound rubber have been selected for next weekend's United States Grand Prix. The number of options will remain at two though.