New Tyre Regulations Make Racing “Difficult” at Bahrain Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa made the Bahrain Grand Prix the first in what looks likely to be a series of Ferrari one-two finishes on Sunday, while former champions Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton bemoaned the difficulties imposed by new tyre and fuel regulations. Schumacher said he “struggled with the new tyre rules,” and that, combined with the refuelling ban, “overtaking is basically impossible with the new regulations.” Hamilton stated: “It’s very difficult to follow [in Bahrain], while looking after the tyres.” Tyre supplier Bridgestone’s director of Motorsport Tyre Development, Hirohide Hamashima made the point that “tyre management, as expected, was very important in this first race with no refuelling. The cars and drivers which were more forgiving to their tyres were rewarded with more durable performance.” Hamilton conceded that the most interesting aspect of the 2010 season looks likely to be in “understanding the tyres and conserving fuel load; knowing when to attack and when not to attack.”
Alonso was particularly impressive in this respect, showing plenty of restraint in the early stages, which were dominated by pole-positioned Sebastian Vettel. Alonso commented that while the hotly tipped German remained on soft tyres he asserted dominance over the rest of the field, though it was a failed spark plug rather than a change of rubber that allowed the eventual podium to reel in Vettel’s advantage. On this showing, it seems the Red Bull driver will have his say in the direction of the Drivers Championship this year, especially since all of the drivers ahead of him (and down to eighth) were on the same super soft-medium tyre strategy. The combination of Vettel and Red Bull will be hard to catch, should reliability issues cease to stand in his way.
While most drivers found racing “difficult” as a result of the new fuel and tyre regulations, it seems the tyres provided a reasonable blend of support and challenge to all teams. Hamilton’s complaint that the tyres didn’t provide “enough grip to hold with [Rosberg] in the fast sections” sounded a slightly worrying note for the supplier, but Hamashima said that Bridgestone was “very happy with tyre performance.” He continued: “This was the first race under these new regulations so no-one knew exactly what to expect. Sebastian Vettel did a great job to manage his super softs at the beginning of the race, making the same set he used for qualifying last the longest of all the front runners. Fernando Alonso drove a very intelligent race for his win, and he was able to set the fastest lap near the end, showing he had managed his tyres very well. It was great to see Felipe Massa back on the podium.”
“This was only the first of 19 races this season,” he concluded. “I think we all have a lot to learn about this season’s best tyre strategies and it will be fascinating unlocking the secrets for the best performance in the races ahead.”
Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport, said “Congratulations to Fernando Alonso for his win and Ferrari for their 1-2 today. Well done also to Lotus for running so well in their first race. The new regulations have given all teams a good challenge and provided all of the viewers around the world a very exciting first race of the season.”