Guest Author - Christine Blachford
In wet weather, Formula 1 run two different tyres. The extreme wet tyre has deep grooves to make dispersing the water easier. If a race has to start behind the safety car, extreme wets must be put on. Just recently, weíve seen a lot of extreme tyres running due to the wet races. The other tyre is the intermediate, which essentially crosses the gap from extreme to dry. Not quite so hardy as the extreme wet, and capable of running on a dry track without burning up to nothing.
The teams asked Bridgestone to look into the single wet tyre idea, as the company already runs this in many of the other series they supply. The single tyre has grooves somewhere between the existing wet weather options, and should cover a wider range of weather conditions. Itís speculated that they asked for the change to be looked at after the European Grand Prix in 2007, that saw a Spyker leading the race after a red flag. Held at the Nurburgring, the first few laps were utter chaos, with only Winkelhock, in the Spyker, making the right tyre choice from the beginning. After the race, itís assumed teams were keen to see this variable taken out of the equation.
Some drivers tested out the new tyres at Jerez last week, and the response was that the tyre is definitely not ready yet. Nakajima said it was much too slippery with very little grip. Heidfeld has already said that he doesnít like the idea, saying that the problems that exist at the moment with aquaplaning on extreme tyres, would only be ten times worse on this new rubber.
Bridgestone themselves have said they would like to keep the two different compounds, as for safety reasons, having the choice of two options is more preferable situation. It seems like the teams are coming round to this way of thinking now, having experienced plenty of wet races this year, and seeing how slippery the new tyre would be.
However, halving the number of wet tyres available to a team at a Grand Prix weekend would help in the general aim of cutting costs. The FIA have made this a key objective when looking at new regulations, and bringing just one specification of wet tyre to a race would save a lot of money. This needs to be weighed against the decrease in safety, however, as there is no point cost cutting when it is simply raising the danger levels.