Tire wars to get hot in Hungary?

THE combination of high track temperatures and the tight, twisting nature of the Hungaroring promises to see a pitched battle between Formula 1's two tire suppliers, Bridgestone and Michelin.

The French firm, still making up ground on Bridgestone's four years of expertise in modern Formula 1, is claiming to have developed a compound that is optimal for a two stop race, sacrificing longevity for grip around the fiddly 2.5-mile, 16-corner circuit.

"Last season a two-stop strategy appeared to be the best solution for this event," said Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier. "That means covering a relatively short distance at an average speed of about 110mph, the second slowest of the season after Monaco.

"Furthermore, this is a circuit at which overtaking is much more difficult than usual and so grid positions will play a great part in determining the final result. "The two tire compounds we have developed for this track must allow us to cope with both warm and cool weather conditions."

Bridgestone meanwhile has confidence in its knowledge of the circuit as it seeks to help Ferrari on to seal the drivers' world championship - or to assist McLaren's David Coulthard in his struggle to reel in the massive points gap.

"The challenge of Hungary is to develop tires that are soft enough to give good grip on the slippery surface yet durable enough and consistent enough to perform well over the race distance," said Hisao Suganuma, the Japanese firm's technical manager.

"Our specs for Hungary are based on some that have shown excellent performance in hot races. One is well known to our teams, while with the other we are offering something a little bit different that some teams or drivers might prefer for this track. As is often the case, the challenge is to get the balance right between grip and durability."

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