Pirelli talks road and race tyre commonality
Pirelli’s entrance into Formula One tyre supply was informed, in common with most motorsport tyre suppliers, by the desire to enhance recognition of the brand and sell more road tyres. When manufacturers start to market their tyres based on their motorsport involvement, a primary rhetorical stance is often to speak of “race to road” technological advantages; in other words, motorsport research yields certain technologies that help to improve companies’ passenger car tyres. To mark the end of its first season as the sole supplier to F1, Pirelli has released a statement comparing its race and road tyres that reveals where the crossover actually occurs:
“The P Zero racing tyre is wider than a normal road tyre with an extremely rigid internal structure and a high shoulder. The road tyre by contrast is characterised by a deep tread pattern and a hard compound in order to guarantee a long life. A P Zero road tyre will last for many thousands of kilometres, whereas a competition tyre will do around a hundred – but in the most dramatic way possible. The contact patch of a P Zero Formula One tyre can increase by up to three times under full aerodynamic loading at high speed, whereas the footprint of a road car tyre will always stay largely the same.
“The P Zero track tyre is instead designed for maximum performance, giving perfect grip at speeds that are enough to generate 4G of lateral acceleration through fast corners. This is four times as much grip as a road tyre will provide, thanks to an operating temperature of more than 100 degrees centigrade that maximises the F1 tyre’s adhesion to the road surface. A road P Zero tyre operates at up to 40 degrees centigrade, thanks to its harder compound.
“The superior grip of the P Zero F1 tyre is highlighted even more by braking performance. A road car generates 1G of deceleration under braking, but a Formula One car produces a figure of 5G, being able to slow from 330kph to 80kph in around three seconds.
“The difference is just as pronounced when it comes to the rain tyres. On a wet surface, Pirelli’s rain tyres will disperse around 60 litres of water per second. A soft compound and aerodynamic loading provides excellent road holding even at high speeds, with a dry contact patch and total control for the driver. A road car tyre will disperse around 13 litres of water per second; an amount that will ensure perfect safety for every type of car under normal driving conditions.
“But Formula One is far from normal driving conditions. The astonishing grip from tyres that have been specifically developed for racing allows the cars to make the most of all their power and acceleration. A road car will go from zero to 60kph in about two and a half seconds. In the same time a single-seater will have reached 100kph. Both cars will have doubled their speed in the next five seconds. The difference in performance, grip and lateral road holding is so pronounced, that only P Zero competition tyres are effective enough to cope with the demands that are placed on them.”
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