The name Paul Hembery has been synonymous with Pirelli’s motorsport activities for a number of years now, but as of 15 March he will assume the additional role of executive president of the Pirelli LATAM Region consumer business. He takes over from Paolo Dal Pino, who was nominated chief executive officer of Pirelli Industrial last October and since then has maintained responsibility for the consumer business in Latin America on an interim basis. Pirelli adds that Claudio Passerini remains confirmed in the role of chief operating officer.
A star-studded driver line-up and some of the world’s leading supercar manufacturers will race exclusively on Pirelli tyres at the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia this weekend. This year’s race marks the first in a three-year agreement for Pirelli to supply all competitors. Last year’s open competition was by McLaren – shod by Pirelli – and the tyre maker also claimed the top four places on the grid and recorded a new GT3 lap record.
This year Pirelli is celebrating 110 years in motorsport and to highlight its forthcoming activities during the season, as well as celebrating the achievements of last year’s champions, the Italian tyre company once again had a significant presence at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.
Formula One has a new owner, and while Liberty Media’s acquisition of the championship means business as usual for tyre supplier Pirelli for the time being, another familiar fixture left the stage yesterday. News of the acquisition’s completion was accompanied by the announcement that Bernie Ecclestone has stepped down as F1’s chief executive officer after 40 years in the job.
An enjoyable few minutes awaits Formula One fans with a bent for facts and figures – Pirelli has published all the numbers from the 2016 season. The statistics offer a glimpse into the logistics involved not only in supplying tyres for the flagship motorsport series, but also in keeping a wide range of protagonists and guests happy.
Pirelli will supply a record number of tyres this weekend in Daytona, for the first Ferrari World Finals held in USA. The event, which brings together the European, North American and Asia Pacific editions of the Ferrari Challenge to elect a champion of champions, has previously taken place in Italy and Abu Dhabi. Pirelli adds that it has provided 15,000 tyres across this year’s 18 Ferrari Challenge events on nearly 700 cars on three continents. The World Finals comprises a series of races in equal Ferrari 458 Challenge Evos, and will mark the biggest presence Pirelli has ever had in the competition, with 5,382 tyres being supplied. As well as the Ferrari Challenge cars, there will be an appearance from Ferrari’s Formula One stars and a display of both historic and modern F1 cars.
Yesterday, Pirelli wrapped up its 2017 Formula 1 tyre testing. The final day out of a cumulative total of 24 brought together all three ‘mule’ cars from Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari on the Yas Marina circuit. These modified 2015 cars are designed to simulate new regulations that will come into effect next year and result in speeds increasing by five seconds per lap compared to last year.
Lewis Hamilton won the last grand prix run on the current Pirelli Formula One tyre range in Abu Dhabi, but was pipped to the drivers’ championship by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who finished second, using identical two-stop strategies. The tyre supplier called the Yas Marina-hosted grand prix “the last race in the era of deliberately high tyre degradation”, with its latest, larger range of P Zero slicks and Cinturato wets unveiled in the emirate before the weekend’s racing began. The final development test for the 2017 will begin on Tuesday, 29 November, with Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari appearing on track together in modified 2015 mule cars.
The Macau grand prix will take place this weekend, with Pirelli as the exclusive tyre supplier for the FIA Formula 3 World Cup. Pirelli will also return as supplier to the FIA GT World Cup, to which it supplied tyres at the inaugural race in 2015.
Despite the delays, the Brazilian grand prix became a “fantastic spectacle,” with plenty of overtaking and action on Pirelli’s wet range of Formula One tyres. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished first, completing the full race on the Cinturato Blue full wet tyre only following two days of largely dry running at Interlagos. Hamilton won without making a racing pit stop, though he did change tyres twice, going from full wets to another set of wets under both red flag stoppages.
This coming weekend’s Rally Australia will be the last round of the World Rally Championship involving Pirelli tyres for some time. In a statement issued on Saturday, Pirelli confirmed it won’t homologate a WRC tyre for 2017.
The Blancpain GT Series Asia, a new race series that commences next year, will exclusively run on Pirelli tyres. The Italian tyre firm is a long-term partner to the Blancpain GT Series within Europe, and considers the agreement to supply the Asia championship “the next logical step in a vital growing market for ultra-high performance tyres.”
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won the Italian Grand Prix from second on the grid using a one-stop strategy – the winning strategy in recent years as well – starting on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre, and then switching to the P Zero medium halfway through the race. His teammate Lewis Hamilton finished second with an identical strategy. The mix of strategies on show is proven by the fact that Rosberg and Hamilton were the only two drivers who qualified in the top 10 to start the race on the soft tyre. Pirelli says this gave them the possibility to drive a longer first stint than the supersoft starters, forming the key strategic battle for the podium.
Recommencing the Formula One season following a short summer break, Pirelli will supply its P Zero White medium, Yellow soft, and Red supersoft compounds to teams at the Belgian grand prix. Held at Spa-Francorchamps on 25-28 August 2016, Pirelli calls the track “one of the most epic drivers’ circuits of them all,” comprising as it does the longest lap of the year at 7.004 kilometres, which places high energy loads through the tyres. Pirelli calls the challenge of Spa multi-faceted for the tyres with a changeable microclimate providing a constant additional parameter for the strategists to consider.