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Bridgestone eyeing slick warm-up cure

A Ferrari testing slick tyres at Jerez last yearBridgestone is hoping that a new range of tyre compounds and higher track temperatures will alleviate fears about warm-up issues when it tests slicks again at Barcelona next month.

The Japanese tyre manufacturer is looking at bringing slicks back to Formula One for the start of next season, and conducted a preliminary test of the rubber at Jerez last December.

Although drivers were generally happy with the first test, there were concerns voiced at the time that without the use of tyre warmers, there was too big a difference between the temperatures of the slicks when they left the pits compared to when they were at full operating temperature.

This difference led to a variation in laptimes of several seconds between cars, which prompted safety fears.

David Coulthard told at the time: "I am quite concerned about the temperature differential between the cars, especially in qualifying.

"I have talked to quite a few drivers about it and they all shared the same opinion that without the blankets (tyre warmers), when a car from the pits joins the track when other cars are on a hot lap, it is pretty scary. There is such a big difference of speed."

On the back of those concerns, Bridgestone is set to evaluate three different types of compounds in the Barcelona test that is scheduled to run from April 14-17.

Hirohide Hamashima, director of Bridgestone's motorsport tyre development, said: "We are thinking about the compound range at the moment.

"We want to check our warm-up issue, because in the winter time we had a warm-up problem and many drivers complained about the warm-up of the tyre.

"It took too long and there was an imbalance, because the rears warmed up quickly. So after two or three laps, the fronts were cold and the rears were hot. So the rears got a little bit tired before the fronts came in, which made it difficult to drive."

Although the tyre regulations for 2009 are not yet set in stone, Hamashima has suggested that they will likely offer four different compounds of slick tyres for the entire season.

Bridgestone is also still considering plans to paint its tyres with fluorescent markings during the night race at the Singapore Grand Prix, rather than just the normal white stripe, to differentiate the prime and option tyres.

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