Tuesday March 13th, 2001
Formula One's tyre manufacturers Michelin and Bridgestone will resume competition at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix and both companies claim they are well prepared for the adverse conditions that the race will present.
The Malaysian Grand Prix, at the Sepang circuit Kuala Lumpur, has been moved from its October date in the calendar last year to this weekend and although the temperatures will still be high, and the air humid, there is more chance of rain in this year's race.
But after both tyre companies tested with teams before travelling to Malaysia and experienced wet conditions in the tests, they are confident that the Sepang race will provide no major problems with their new tyre compounds.
"All three tracks had rain at some point in testing," said Bridgestone's Technical Manager Hisao Suganuma. "It gave us plenty of opportunities to gather some useful data regarding the wet-weather compounds we will have in Malaysia."
But the heat is as much a concern as the rain. Temperatures well over 30 degrees Celsius are expected, and that has led to concerns over tyre degradation.
Michelin's Grand Prix Director Pascal Vasselon agrees: "The higher temperature will be one of the biggest factors at this track. For only our second Grand Prix this will be a stern challenge."
Bridgestone clearly have the upper hand once again, then, and they are confident they will be able to go with softer tyres despite the intense temperatures.
"Not unlike Melbourne, the challenge at Sepang is to have tyres that grip well but also perform consistently in the hot weather," said Bridgestone's Suganuma.
"I believe our tyres will perform well both during qualifying and the race," he added. "Because they have good initial grip and behave consistently."