Bridgestone happy with tires in France Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen benefited from strong consistent runs on both compounds of Bridgestone Potenza tires to score his eleventh Grand Prix victory and his second using Bridgestones in a thrilling French Grand Prix. A diversity of pit stop strategies and length of stints was played out under the ever-present threat of rain. This provided excitement as well as a real challenge to the team strategists.
The forecast rain held off for the duration of the 70 laps, meaning that neither Bridgestone’s wet or extreme wet Potenzas were employed today. Nevertheless, the strategy of when and how to use the theoretically faster but less consistent soft tire and the slower starting but more consistent medium Bridgestone Potenza provided interest throughout the race.
Raikkonen opted for a longer second stint to move him ahead of pole-sitting team-mate Felipe Massa who finished in second place. Ferrari showed a real upturn in form as the winner of the last two races, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), finished over half a minute adrift of Raikkonen.
Contrary to the majority of the field, reigning world champion Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes) made his start on the soft compound Potenza and was able to take advantage of this in the early laps. Alonso pushed on both compounds of Bridgestone and was able to make three places in the race. Twelfth starting Jenson Button (Honda Racing) also maximized his strategy to finish in eighth and take the final championship point.
The French Grand Prix was just one piece in the jigsaw of international motorsport with a Bridgestone involvement this weekend. Giorgio Pantano and Javier Villa won races in the Bridgestone supported GP2 Series here at Magny Cours. On Saturday Bridgestone runner Casey Stoner took second place in the MotoGP race at Assen after starting from pole and leading for 23 laps of the 26 lap race. The IndyCar Series race this weekend at Richmond on Bridgestone’s Firestone brand of tires was won by Dario Franchitti.
Next weekend will see the ninth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone where Bridgestone’s hard and medium Potenzas will be used. Ferrari ran well when testing the Bridgestone compounds for this race two weeks ago so another strong battle could be in prospect.
“I apologize for being brief today but my thoughts were with those who were involved in last night’s helicopter accident and it was difficult to concentrate on the race. We brought two strong performing tires to Magny Cours,” said Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations. “They provided good grip in qualifying and good durability in the race. This meant that any strategy or length of stint was possible, indeed one driver went for two stints using the same front tires. Both the medium and the soft compound Potenza were worthy of the name Bridgestone here today.” Bridgestone