Pirelli’s greatest product hits of 2016
As far as the best-known Italian tyremaker is concerned, 2016 will be remembered as a very significant year for Pirelli with the company launching its all-new P Zero, continuing its involvement in Formula 1, sponsoring the Prestige and Performance Competition at Salon Privé once more, as well as completing the Cinturato family with the all-new Cinturato Winter.
The new P Zero was launched back in April at Estoril circuit in Portugal, and this was followed by a UK launch in May at Silverstone reinforcing the track to road concept of Pirelli tyres, which is at the heart of the company’s philosophy.
There’s no such thing as a generic P Zero tyre anymore. Instead, each tyre is made to match the model that it is fitted to: which Pirelli calls ‘The Perfect Fit’. In order to make it a perfect match, Pirelli’s engineers work alongside engineers from the car manufacturers at the design stage, tailoring the tyre to complement the characteristics of each model. The whole process takes as long as the development cycle for the car itself, typically two to three years.
The P Zero has just one name but it is produced in three individual technical variants, with different applications and performance levels: each one designed for a specific type of car. For cars with a more sporting character there is a less sculpted tread pattern design, which is intended to favour more dynamic and sports orientated performance. The second tread design is more appropriate for luxury saloon cars, thanks to an external shoulder that is more deeply grooved and designed to better absorb each impact with the road surface, enhancing the comfort that is an important part of these cars. Finally, the third design is a lot more aggressive, coming close to the slick tyres seen in motorsport: this has been created for the new P Zero Corsa. So each type of car has its own special type of P Zero.
In total, there are now 11 members of the P Zero family: A brand created in 1986 to equip the Lancia Delta S4 Rally Car, before being used as original equipment on the Ferrari F40 the following year. P Zero has become a point of reference for the world’s most prestigious carmakers, which have chosen it as original equipment 1000 times. The New P Zero launched onto the market with a portfolio of a further 60 homologations.
The history of the P Zero, the first of which was launched exactly 30 years ago on the iconic Ferrari F40, was showcased at Salon Privé in September, held at Sir John Vanbrugh’s masterpiece of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Pirelli was sponsoring the Prestige and Performance competition for the second year running, featuring a huge variety of exotic cars from the likes of Lamborghini, Pagani and Ferrari. Part motor show, part garden party, this proved to be one of the highlights of the year thanks to the combination of beautiful cars and genteel surroundings.
On the other end of the spectrum, there was the more cold and desolate environment of Iceland: the perfect place to launch the new Cinturato Winter tyre, which improves on its predecessor in every area throughout the harshest conditions. Extreme performance isn’t just about speed.
This year Pirelli also reinforced its commitment to Formula 1 by agreeing a new three-year deal. It’s an agreement with a difference though: next year’s F1 tyres have a whole new look to them, being 25 per cent wider as part of a package of measures designed to make the cars even faster and more spectacular. Which, in Pirelli’s words, means “2017 is set to fly past even quicker than this year”.