Bridgestone has confirmed that they 'expect' to do further tests next year with their slick tyres in order to fine-tune them and get ready ahead of their proposed return in 2009.

The FIA Formula 1 World Championship abandoned slicks at the end of 1997, when the sport switched to grooved tyres as part of a drive to try and reduce speeds and in turn improve safety.

Last week however, all the teams got the chance to run with the 2009 'prototype' rubber during testing at Jerez. Three sets of slick tyres were available to all the teams over the course of the four days and runs undertaken using these tyres did not count towards the 2007 testing agreement.

Speaking after running concluded on Friday, Bridgestone's director of motorsport tyre development, Hirohide Hamashima added that the test was 'a valuable data gathering exercise'.

"We have to remember that these are development tyres though and the 2007 chassis have not been designed to run with slicks," he continued. "However, the information gained will help us and the teams with developments for the future. We received strong feedback from all drivers, including Michael Schumacher who we know well.

"We will review the information gained now and this will enable us to continue to develop these tyres. The teams also have some initial information to help develop their cars too. We will respond to requests from the Formula 1 Testing Committee for future tests as required and we would expect further tests over the course of next year."

Asked if slicks will make big a difference in terms of lap times, he noted that at this point it is difficult to say: "When the teams ran with 2007 levels of downforce certain cars were more than two seconds faster. When the cars ran with 2009 levels of downforce though they were slower, which is the aim of the regulations," he explained.

"We must also remember that the current cars and their suspension have not been designed for slick tyres. A lot of development will occur in both the cars and the Bridgestone tyres before 2009."

As for how similar the 'prototype' tyres are to those used by Bridgestone in 1997, Hamashima noted that things have moved on a lot since then.

"We have learnt a lot since we last ran with slicks in F1 from our activities in Formula 1 - and other motorsport activities like GP2, Champ Car and IndyCar, which all use our slick tyres," he continued. "This knowledge has been incorporated into this development tyre and there are many differences from our 1997 tyres."

Bridgestone will now begin its preparations for the next F1 group test, which takes place from January 14-16, again at Jerez, when the medium compound dry grooved tyre will be provided.



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