Monaco-22,000 kg worth of tires! The weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix will provide an additional logistical challenge for Bridgestone Motorsport given the nature of the tiny Principality located along the French Riviera between France and the Mediterranean.
The venue for one of the world’s best known motor races is also the world’s most densely populated country with a population of 32,410 shoehorned into an area of just 1.96 square kilometres. Squeezing a Grand Prix in was always going to be a challenge.
For drivers the track itself presents its own trials and tribulations. Three time world champion Nelson Piquet is credited with likening the challenge of piloting a Formula One car around the tight and twisty confines of the track as being akin to riding a bicycle around a house, and he wasn’t joking.
Set-up is crucial as the drivers need the car to do exactly what they want it to do, otherwise they could so easily become another victim of the Monaco circuit barriers.
“You need as much grip as possible and teams will run their cars with a maximum downforce set-up,” explains Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations. “Traction is crucial with acceleration out of so many corners, but you have to be careful as understeer is not desirable with so much Armco about.”
The requirements for numbers of tires are no less than any other Grand Prix and Bridgestone will be bringing 2200 Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires and 650 Bridgestone Potenza GP2 Series tires to the event.
The weight of the tires brought for F1 alone amounts to 22,000 kg, and on top of this there are eight fitting machines and eight balancing machines which are used to fit and balance the tires to the rims provided by the teams.
Eight trucks are used by Bridgestone to transport the tires and equipment to the event, with three heading to the event direct from the Paul Ricard test. In addition, Bridgestone’s motorhome will also be present in the glamorous F1 paddock.
With space so much at a premium at the venue, Bridgestone’s home for tire fitting is outside the paddock, but still in close proximity to the teams. With a dockside outlook, the area occupied is similar to that at more conventional race venues.
The 3.3 km track itself is normally used as the public highway and indeed the weekend sees the normal Friday running of F1 cars take place on Thursday as Friday in Monaco sees the streets returned to public usage following morning runs by the GP2 cars.
“In times of competition it was very difficult with the timetable the way it is in Monaco,” explains van de Grint. “You would make your conclusions from running on the track on Thursday, but then the circuit could be very different when you next ran on it on Saturday. This year it is not so difficult, but this is one track which certainly rewards those drivers with experience and good judgment.”
Bridgestone can have up to 70 people on a European event and Monte Carlo’s crowded location means that most of these will be lodging away from the track.
“Monaco is not as difficult as it could be in terms of logistics,” explains van de Grint. “It is a street circuit so of course it is different from operating out of a purpose built facility but we have a good position and everything seems to work well. Of course there is a greater distance between the motorhome and the fitting area than in other places, but the sacrifice of a longer walk is worth it when you are in a destination as fabulous as Monaco.”