Bridgestone Press Release: Shinji Aoki On Why Bridgestone's Tires Did Not Last The Race At Phillip Island

After every race weekend, Bridgestone issues a press release containing a summary of how they think their weekend went. Normally, they are fairly bland affairs, only of interest to those interested in the minutiae of tire performance and set up. How different is the press release issued after the Australian Grand Prix. After the debacle of tires not being able to complete an entire race, and compulsory pit stops introduced, Bridgestone's press release was highly anticipated.

The press release itself is rather disappointing. While the technical details are fascinating on why the tires failed to hold up at Phillip Island, the question of why Bridgestone failed to test at the circuit is merely skimmed over in passing references. The full press release appears below:

Australian MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Tuesday 22 October 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft & Soft. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo won an intriguing Australian Grand Prix ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and his factory Yamaha stablemate Valentino Rossi.

The new Phillip Island track surface proved to be unexpectedly harsh on tyres, particularly at the rear, resulting in a decision by race direction – following discussions with Bridgestone – to reduce the race distance to nineteen laps and mandate a pit stop where riders were required to change bikes equipped with a fresh set of tyres.

Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

Last Sunday MotoGP witnessed its first flag-to-flag race in dry conditions. Can you explain what happened at Phillip Island?

“Basically, due to the much improved track surface at Phillip Island this year, the rear slick tyre allocation we supplied for the Australian Grand Prix experienced extreme temperatures which affected their durability. The very high levels of traction offered by the tarmac resulted in some tyres having their tread torn off and cracked – a situation we definitely did not anticipate. When it became apparent that doing the full race distance on a single rear tyre was not feasible, we engaged in discussions with Dorna, the FIM and IRTA, who worked together to find a solution for the race. Considering the tyre allocation we had to work with, I am pleased at the outcome on Sunday as the crowd at Phillip Island, as well as fans around the world got to witness a safe and exciting race. The teams and riders showed great flexibility and professionalism in adapting their programme for a flag-to-flag race and for this they should be congratulated.”

The original announcement of the flag-to-flag race was for a twenty-six lap race, then on Sunday this was revised to nineteen laps. Why was the duration of the race changed?

“The decision by race direction to make a twenty-six lap race came after our advice that the maximum stint on a rear slick tyre must be fourteen laps, following our tyre analysis on Saturday. With our mind on the safety of the riders, we asked the riders to do long runs on the harder option rear slicks In Sunday’s warm up session to see if running conditions were different compared to the day before, which could have a result on tyre longevity. The analysis of the tyres from warm up showed that on Sunday, ten laps was a safer distance on a single rear tyre so for a one stop race, nineteen laps was deemed the best race distance. It seems that the improved setup of the bikes in Sunday warm-up yielded better performance for the riders and hence increased the stress on tyres even further compared to Saturday.”

What was it about the track surface at Phillip Island that caused problems with the tyres?

“We knew that the track had been resurfaced at Phillip Island resulting in the track being more severe and despite having special extra-hard rear slicks delivered to the circuit to address this change, the improvement in the condition of the track surface caused us problems. Although we have to investigate our used tyres and look at telemetry data from the teams to reach a conclusion on all the contributing factors, the overall problem was sustained periods of very high tyre temperature that before this weekend, were unprecedented at this circuit. Our initial findings suggest it wasn’t just the vastly increased grip of the tarmac itself that caused the problem. The lack of bumps in the corners meant the tyres maintained more constant contact with the tarmac and this drove tyre temperatures even higher. When you look at the best race lap time from this year, it is over two seconds quicker than last year, which shows just how much extra traction – and potential for higher tyre temperatures – the new tarmac offers. We expected an increase in tyre temperatures this weekend and prepared for this, but the extreme temperatures that occurred were far beyond our expectations.”

An extra-hard rear slick was tested by the twelve works riders in Free Practice 4, but wasn’t used for the race. Why?

“The extra-hard rear slicks used in FP4 offered no benefit compared to the hard compound slick that was originally allocated to riders. The extra-hard rear slick suffered from the same heat problems and also offered less grip than the hard rear, so it was withdrawn as a race option. Generally, harder rubber compounds offer better heat resistance, yet this wasn’t the always the case last weekend. Our hard compound rear slick fared better than our medium compound rear, but the extra-hard rear slick didn’t cope as well as the hard option. This seems to be another peculiarity with the new Phillip Island track surface and this is something our engineers are currently investigating.”

How will Bridgestone ensure such problems at Phillip Island are not experienced in future races?

“It is evident from what we now know about the condition of the Phillip Island circuit that we will need to undertake testing here before the race in October next year. As Phillip Island isn’t currently used for any IRTA group tests or private team tests, we are currently negotiating a way by which we can test here next year with some MotoGP riders before the next Australian Grand Prix in October. This way, we can use the data obtained to develop tyres that better suit the new track surface.”

Are you confident that with testing, Bridgestone will be able to make tyres that last a full race distance for next year’s Australian Grand Prix?

“Yes, everyone at Bridgestone is confident that if we test next year with factory riders at Phillip Island early next year, we can develop tyres for this circuit that will last the full race distance of twenty-seven laps. It will be a big challenge for us, but one we will pursue diligently. Creating new slick tyres that will have enough durability and heat-resistance on the new surface, yet still deliver the grip levels and warm-up performance that is required at Phillip Island will be made a priority for the engineers at Bridgestone’s Technical Centre in Japan.”

Round Number: 
16
2013

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Comments

I know a lot of people are happy about how this utter failure on the part of tire suppliers has tightened up the championship as a side effect, but I for one am disgusted.

Riders have already been complaining that there really is no choice on most weekends as only one tire works, but this last PI round was just terrible. And for anyone else that happened to catch the Matt Roberts interview with Carmine Mascarloto(sp?) before the race, I hope you caught the blatant bs claim he made about BS not having an opportunity to test.

I'm actually surprised that more hell isn't being raised over what is simply typical corporate laziness... Oh wait, actually I'm not surprised at all.

i am wondering if tire technology is finally falling behind the demands ?!?!
is it possible to continue comoming up with better tires or will a new technolgy in of itself be needed?

Given the rapid development Honda have made in the last 12 months would it not have been prudent to make testing at PI already knowing that the resurfaced track is way more abrasive a priority? It smacks of total complacency and incompetency to me. Would research and development throughout the year be so woefully ignored if the controlled tire was binned off?

I am not sure one even need the qualification about Honda,s development. They should have made testing a priority. Full stop.

So much talk is made about safety and this wasn't remotely safe.

The manufacturer is different but the results are the same. A totally farcical race because of an unprepared tire supplier. I'm not surprised that Aoki delivered a bland debrief of the event. Minimizing Bridgestone's responsibility for supplying unsafe tires and provoking the resulting influences on the championship are face-saving job number one for corp. spokesmen at Bridgestone.
This speaks to the subject of the single supplier spec tire issue quite profoundly. If there had been another tire competitor and teams had the freedom to run which ever tire they chose this blundering excuse of a race would never had happened. Dorna isn't innocent either as a rule which denies the racer control over his race is anti-competition and in fact the basis of a parade rather than a race. Failing marks all around.

You do know that in 2005 Formula 1 actually had two competing tyre manufacturers? That actually caused the problem. There was nothing different or strange about the track, the Michelin tyres just were not good enough. In the heat of competition, they went too far on the risky side.

Using this as a stick to beat the single tyre rule with is ignorant at best.

Sorry but the single tire manufacture IS the problem. It has caused nothing but problems for all of the teams. Not to mention the money that was spent by the factory teams trying to develop a bike around a set of tires. Let's talk about how much money was actually saved due to the spec tire rule. I'll bet that non of the manufactures will agree with that statement. They've all spent more money in bike development due to the tire than they would have if they left the tire rule alone.

You may think all those things and you may be right, but it's completely irrelevant to what happened at Philip Island. As shown in 2005, the same thing could happen with no spec tyre.

MotoGP bikes are design, built and then developed to make the most of a specific tyre. I know it sounds nice to suggest that with multiple tyre suppliers teams could one week race on bridgestones, michelin the following week and then pirelli. But the reality is that that is impossible. They would almost need a different bike for each tyre manufacturer.

The reality is we got a single tyre supplier because the wrong rider and team won a championship. The fans were unhappy and order (the correct rider winning) had to be restored. If the fans had of appreciated the skill and effort required to win against the odds then Dorna would never have had to go to a single supplier.

In MotoGP pre-2006, Michelin were king, even with Bridgestone and Dunlop present. I think the turning point was VR#46's many tire failures in 2006 that put Michelin on shaky ground - Even with their "overnight specials" (enjoyed by many Michelin riders, not just VR#46!). Dunlop were nowhere but Bridgestone were improving...

In 2007 Stoner dominated... on Bridgestone tires! In 2008 Rossi wanted Bridgestone (and won for the next 2 years), closely followed by Pedrosa. The single tire rule seemed like a good idea to many at the time, to "even" the playing field.

Hasn't quite worked out that way has it? Bridgestone are becoming "Michelin 2006". They need some real competition to up their game!

True enough, but it did work for a couple of years. Things have now clearly slipped, trouble last year with tyre quality, this year only one tyre available(wtf dorna?) Don't be lulled into thinking everyone's pissed at BS just for PI, there's been a catalogue of issues of poor performance for a while now.. No doubt money will have come into it at some stage..

Listening to Neil Spalding on Saturday after Moto2, he was verging on the incredulous that neither Dunlop OR Bridgestone had tested the new surface at P.I. I tend to subscribe to his point of view that this came down to cost. Simple as that. The bean counters got it wrong (again) and this time it's cost them. Massively. It's just totally mystifying to me that companies the size and reputation of these 2 chose to take this course of action.

I'd like to know why Loris Caprirossi DIDN'T insist on Bridgestone and Dunlop both at least sending a superbike and supersport spec bike round the track after the surface was relayed??

As Davids said. The reasons for this have been skimmed over. Personally, I think they've been completely swept under the carpet in the fervent hope we'll all just forget. Not likely I'm afraid, to any concerned in this fiasco. Because that's what it is, a fiasco. A comedy of errors bought about by balance sheets.

And it's a fucking (excuse the language) disgrace.

Firstly tyre construction, not compounds, changed in response to the riders calling for better warm-up, wider temperature operating bands & more feel. More carcass flex, more heat buildup. more delamination & blistering in extremes.

Secondly not testing at a resurfaced track already well known for throwing up tyre issues was madness (Dunlop even worse as they had supersport data from earlier in the year at PI)

Thirdly Bridgestone have been screwed down on price by Dorna & economic reality.

The issue of control tyre as a philosophy is different. The worst effect of control tyres is that by its very nature there is only one possible chassis answer to effective performance. Not only do we see Ducati, the bike that gave Bridgestone its first GP crown, compromised in engineering direction by the tyres narrow demands rather than tyres designed to suit the engineering of the bike as was the case at the height of their success, we also see no real design innovation or experimentation by chassis constructers. There will be no more Elf racers with a control tyre and with controls on software no avenue for advancement in performance. In other words control tyres are by nature anti-prototype racing. Bad news for a prototype series

First, no one holds a gun to the head of the riders to get into this game and there is obviously a huge assumed risk on the part of the riders to throw a leg over their bikes each weekend.
That said, the garbage that BS has been putting out over the past few years is plainly obvious for all but Dorna to see. HRC had what, 3 iterations of their frames last year alone before finding something to eliminate chatter? I don't suppose that came cheap? Didn't Stoner basically foresee a full year ago the problems that we're watching unfold? Haven't the BS been the achilles of many SBK riders looking to transition to MGP? Didn't Elias ultimately get sacked because he couldn't come to grips with the rubber from BS? Hasn't Rossi stated braking issues plaguing the bike result from the front tire? How many God awful high-speed offs have we seen due these tires not heating up the last few years?
And, finally, aware that while this sounds extreme, i do blame BS for Super Sic's passing. He paid the ultimate price for BS' complacency. Where is need to innovate when you can't lose?
Tires should not have to be solved for with so much on the line.

Yes, i know technology is involved and more power requires different tires, etc., but BS has harmed too many. We need choice again.

Lastly, perhaps it is just time to give Stoner his due. He didn't win because he was on the BS. he won because he was the fastest, ballsiest guy on the planet - this from a dyed in the wool Rossi fan. Michelin was obviously struggling and had several poor showings/failures. But BS getting the tire contract was due to the paddock group think we talked about earlier in the year relating to Ohlins/Showa/Nissin/Brembo. No one wanted to admit that Bridgestone won the WC because of the guy on top of the bike. I hated Stoner with every cell but have come to acknowledged he would have won on square wooden wheels.

Apologies for the emotional and probably incoherent diatribe, but I am pissed.

Holy kashmoli! Thanks for posting that link.
Bridgestone Battleaxe?
Bikesthrown Addledbacks more like it there.

the manufacturers are truly trying to justify their racing expenses as the exploration of technology for potential homologation to street bikes and or street technology then they have abandoned any precept of science by limiting themselves to one tire supplier. There is no way in hell that they design a chassis around an available street tire in Honda HQ or Bologna, so why on earth would they limit their race bikes as such?

A spec class is a spec class, moto2 is a prime example of a well executed spec class, but MotoGP was never meant to be such, and the half-proto, half-spec class it is becoming is really an ugly bastard child of two divergent schools of thought.

I wonder if MM#93's tires from the PI 2013 race are just as bad or worse than Ben Spies#11's tires that chunked something awful last year? Maybe even some other riders besides BS#11 from last year? The tires looking like that on 10-11 laps is not very confidence inspiring in my opinion :(

It seems to me that, not very long ago, there were comments/complaints that some riders excelled because they got tires that no one else did. That the tire manufacturers dictated the race outcome by deciding who got what. So certainly providing everyone with the exact same tires (allocated at random no less) deftly addressed that situation.

And in my mind the debacle of (for example) Laguna Seca where Michelin, two years in a row no less, provided tires that were clearly not up to the task (certainly we remember Nicky being asked to go out on rain tires because the slicks were unable to cope with the temperature) effectively counters many of the arguments that imply things were always better with multiple suppliers.

It is not clear to me that one brand or ten brands address both sets of issues. Humans make mistakes. Decisions are made that ultimately don't provide the results that everyone would have liked and, of course, hind sight is so much clearer.

Firefly, call me names, who cares.
The faces speak for themselves. Michelin did not test at Indy before the 2005 F1 race and that is why the tires weren't good enough, as you said. Bridgestone didn't test at Phillip Island before the MotoGP race this year and that's why the tires weren't good enough. That is a factual comparision.
The reason that Bridgestone didn't test has all to do with being a monopoly in MotoGP. The goal of saving money in the face of no competitive challenge was temptation enough for Bridgestone's actions. There may have been other reasons, we may never know but putting rider safety as a second tier concern must not be encouraged by a spec tire policy in MotoGP or any other class of motorcycle racing.

bridgestone is just a great tyre! this can happen. ive never seen new asphalt rip a tyre apart like this. michelin walked away, and pirelli doesn't even wanna try. yeah like pirelli said if they would make a tyre less high performans.!! yeah right and have this every weekend. more power more weight but nobuddy could anticipate on this. and bridgestone can easely make a tyre that last easy. normaly with bridgestone riders could make the fastest lap at the end of the race. but riders wanted a tyre warming up quicker. and we can see now the tyres fade a little at the end. so they have the magic to do so. if it was for pirelli riders should come in after 2 laps!

This is absolute bollocks. Bridgestone should be canned as a single supplier and make way for a manufacturer of choice for teams...

Are Bridgestone asking the question of their own man?

(If it was a 'real' interview surely it would have been 'Paxman-esque' in repeating, "Why didn't you test?")