No sooner has the chequered flag fallen on the Australian Grand Prix than Bridgestone heads to Sepang where the hard and soft compound Potenza tyres will be used for the Malaysian Grand Prix on April 2-4.
Just one week separates the second and third races on this season's
gruelling 19-race calendar meaning that Bridgestone's personnel leave Melbourne straight for the Sepang circuit, located approximately 60 km south of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.
The Sepang circuit is severe on tyres with two long straights leading into tight, slow speed corners which require heavy braking, putting high energy levels through the tyres. A wide range of corner types mean that Bridgestone's tyres are kept under heavy loads over the course of a lap. The circuit layout is not the only aspect that is tough, as the hot weather experienced here provides a harsh test too. Indeed, even when it rains in Malaysia, as it does frequently, temperatures remain high.
Hiroshi Yasukawa - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport, says:
"Last year we had a very exciting Malaysian Grand Prix because of the weather, and this was a good event for us to showcase our full weather range of Bridgestone Potenza tyres. This is an interesting area for Bridgestone as much of our natural rubber comes from this region. This year also marks the 10th Anniversary of Bridgestone in Malaysia and our colleagues will be marking the occasion with a series of events in the build up to the Malaysia Grand Prix. Furthermore, there will be particular interest in the race for Malaysians this year as they have their own team for the first time with Lotus Racing."
Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, says:
"Sepang is relatively severe on tyres as it has many different corner types and two heavy braking zones after long straights. This means the energy going through the tyres over a lap is considerable. Drivers will have to be careful not to lock their brakes, especially when they have heavy fuel loads and cool tyres in the early laps. The section between turns seven and eleven are very important at this track as they give a very good illustration of a good overall car set-up. Being strong here is crucial for a good performance at Sepang. High temperatures are usually a factor in Malaysia and this could mean more tyre degradation than we've seen so far this year, particularly given the severity of the track. Last year illustrated that you never know what to expect in Malaysia."