Bridgestone Motorsport's technical manager, Hisao Suganuma has declared himself 'pleased' with progress made this week in Barcelona where three of the Bridgestone equipped teams ploughed relentlessly through their tyre test programmes.

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Sauber Petronas and Jordan Ford all shared the burden of tyre testing which included short, mid and long runs on approximately 15-20 different specifications of development tyres. In the region of 2,000 tyres were sent to the Catalan circuit.

"The tyres used this week were not specific 'Barcelona spec' tyres as we believe it is important to first find the basic specification for the year," noted Suganuma, "Generally speaking, once this has been completed, we can refine the tyres for the forthcoming grand prix circuits. Of course, during winter testing in Europe it is impossible to simulate conditions for races such as Malaysia but we certainly experienced track temperatures this week similar to those that could be expected in Melbourne in a few weeks time."

"We got a good deal of data this week, I was pleased with the lap times and I think we've certainly narrowed down our future selection of tyres," he added. "Sauber and Jordan worked hard this week and we're getting pretty close to where we want to be. I'm looking forward to Valencia where we expect to take another step forward."

Michael Schumacher also made his first testing appearance this week for Ferrari and Bridgestone since clinching his sixth drivers' world championship title. Suganuma was pleased to see the champion return to the cockpit but is quick to point out that Schumacher's role is just one aspect.

"It is very enjoyable to work with Michael and driver feedback is crucial," noted Suganuma, "Michael's input, along with that of Rubens [Barrichello], is an important part of the development programme which has been started by the test drivers. It has to be said that the way test and race drivers work together now is very useful to us as a tyre supplier."

Bridgestone's engineers now move to the Spanish circuit of Valencia where they will continue the test programme next week [27-29 January] with the Ferrari, Sauber and Minardi Formula One teams. It will be Minardi's first outing of 2004.



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