Teams and drivers face their toughest test yet in terms of tyre-management as they prepare to do battle at the tyre-wear-intensive Istanbul Speed Park.
Bridgestone will supply the teams with modified hard and medium compound Potenza tyres this year in a bid to combat tyre â€˜chunking’ which caused problems for several drivers last year, most notably Lewis Hamilton who, having effectively sealed third-place, suffered a tyre failure with only fifteen laps to go.
Chunking is when small bits of rubber or ’marbles’ get stuck to the tyre surface. This continues forming larger chunks which then harden on the tyre surface. These hardened pieces of rubber can then damage the tyre underneath and lead to tyre failure.
“Last year we did see some drivers experience problems with their use of our tyres, so we have made changes to the tyre construction to minimise the chances of this happening again,â€ explains Hirohide Hamashima, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development.
“This circuit is not only a challenge for our tyres, drivers face a tough race too as the circuit is not clockwise like most of the tracks on the calendar.â€
Turkey’s demanding 5.34 Herman Tilke designed circuit with its notorious triple apexer Turn 8 and heavy braking zones is a breeding ground for tyre graining particularly at the end of the lap where the track’s longest straight filters into a twisty left-right-left combination.
Turn 8 puts particular pressure on the right front tyre which is under the most load around the triple apex left hander.
“Istanbul has a wide range of different corner types and is a very difficult circuit to master in terms of car set-up and maximising tyre potential,â€ adds Hamashima.
“In Istanbul we face the highest G forces we see all season so we are bringing the hardest tyres in our range for this race.â€