New Pirelli F1 tyres will ‘provide an even better spectacle’
This week, as the 2012 Formula One season gets under way at Jerez in Spain, F1 teams will have their first chance to sample the definitive specification of Pirelli’s latest tyres. During the four-day test at the Andalusian circuit between 7 and 10 February, each car will have 25 sets of Pirelli’s new soft, medium and hard compounds available, along with wet tyres if needed. Teams are allowed a maximum of 100 sets of tyres per car each year for testing purposes, and they are permitted to choose the compounds they would like to test within their allowance. Not a single team nominated the supersoft compound – the only one to remain unchanged from 2011 – for Jerez.
Experimental compounds for the 2012 tyres were tried out during certain free practice sessions last year, as well as at the young driver test following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. However, this is the first opportunity drivers have to test the new compounds together with the new tyre profiles, which this year are much ‘squarer’ in order to provide a greater contact patch and deliver a longer period of peak performance while maintaining an overall lifespan in the region of 100 kilometres. Following changes in the aerodynamic regulations that ban blown exhausts for 2012, the tyres have been designed to provide more grip at the rear of the car.
Cinturato returns to F1
As already mentioned, all compounds apart from the supersoft are new, and the various compound tyres are more easily identifiable as their colour markings are more vivid. In the unlikely event of rain in the south of Spain next week, drivers will also get to try out the new Cinturato rubber. This name, an echo of that given to Pirelli’s first Formula One tyres in the 1950s, has been chosen for the new intermediate and full wet tyres.
With the 2012 cars in different phases of development, and owing to the presence of several new drivers, Pirelli opines that the emphasis in Jerez will not be on peak performance but instead on understanding the characteristics of the new tyres and matching them to the cars. The 4.43-kilometre Jerez circuit has previously hosted both the Spanish and European Grands Prix and is a popular venue for Formula One testing due to its technical configuration and year-round warm weather. It was one of the venues Pirelli used for testing in 2010 when the company was building up to its F1 return. The track contains quite a wide variety of corners, ranging from slow curves to some medium to fast bends. The layout places particular emphasis on rear tyres, which have to work hard to supply the best traction throughout an ample range of speeds. While Jerez does not result in especially high top speeds, every aspect of a car’s performance is comprehensively tested.
F1 is our ‘ultimate research tool’
“After a successful first season in 2011, we are determined to help provide an even better spectacle this year, which is why the entire tyre range has been renewed,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. “At this early point, the emphasis for the teams is expected to be on learning the new tyres and it will be interesting to see which approach they take to that process. Last year, it didn’t take the teams long at all to understand the characteristics of our tyres, and while we are sure that this will be the case again, there will be less of an element of surprise this year, as to some extent the teams know what to expect from our products. This rapid pace of development and reaction is what makes Formula One our ultimate research tool, enhancing Pirelli’s status as the world leader in the ultra high performance sector.”
While teams are testing the 2012 Formula One compounds for the first time, at Jerez Pirelli’s P Zero Silver road car tyre – which was officially unveiled last September – will also be given its market launch. The Italian tyre maker comments that it gave the P Zero Silver the name of its hardest compound Formula One tyre as it is designed to combine performance with durability.