With eight right-hand corners, most of which are long and fast, and only five left-handers, most of which are much slower, the Circuit de Catalunya provides a worthy puzzle for all the tire manufacturers, but this weekend Bridgestone has a secret weapon up its sleeve. For the Catalan GP, Bridgestone has made a special asymmetrical tire that will be composed of different compounds on each side of the tire in order to meet the demanding conditions of the Spanish track.
At the Circuit de Catalunya, the right-side of the tires experience a far greater amount cornering force at Barcelona than at other venues. This force equates into the tires having to be able to cope with higher temperatures than usual. At the same time, the left-hand side of the tires must be able to perform at a much lower temperature range, as the slower left-hand turns exert less force, and thus less heat than normal. Any tire choice is difficult, as both directions shove the tire into an extreme situation.
Compounding the issue is the expected heat wave for the weekend, which will require an even harder slick than normal at the Catalan track.
Bridgestone will therefore bring both a hard compound, and an extra hard compound rear tire, though in both rear options the left shoulder of the tyre will feature a softer compound. These asymmetric rears are designed to provide a consistent level of grip throughout the lap.
In other tire news, the recently revised 2009 tire regulations come into effect at the end of this weekend in Barcelona, meaning that every rider will need to inform Bridgestone how many front tires of each compound they wish to use at the next race in Assen.
This change in the regulations means that rather than every rider being given four of the harder and four of the softer compound Bridgestone front slicks, each can now choose whether they want four of each compound or five of one and three of the other, making tire strategy even more important.