Testing of Pirelli’s 2018 Formula 1 tyres took place at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit over a two-day period this week, and following the conclusion of proceedings the tyre maker is proud to report that four-time and current champion Lewis Hamilton has declared the new PZero Pink hypersoft tyre the “best tyre Pirelli has ever made.”
Yesterday’s Mexican Grand Prix delivered Lewis Hamilton his fourth drivers’ title, not to mention a moment of bated breath in the very first round as Hamilton’s Mercedes made contact with the Ferrari of closest title contender Sebastian Vettel. The collision, comments Pirelli, added an extra tactical element to the race, as both protagonists were forced to deviate from the expected one-stop strategy.
While all the frontrunners at the final Malaysian Grand Prix used a similar single-stop tyre strategy, changing from Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft to Yellow soft tyres, Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari reversed the order to support his bid for points from the back of the grid. The German chose to start the race on the soft tyres to try and gain track position, switching to the faster supersoft tyres on the same lap that Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pitted from the lead to change from supersoft to soft. Verstappen won the race from the second row of the grid.
On one of the most demanding circuits for tyres Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won Formula One’s Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel after what was effectively a sprint race in the final laps. The race was turned on its head by a safety car on lap 30, which gave drivers the opportunity for a ‘free’ pit stop. Hamilton, in the lead, ran the soft tyre for his final stint, while Vettel went for the ultrasoft: theoretically more than one second per lap faster.
Sebastian Vettel won one of the fastest ever Monaco grands prix, using a one-stop strategy. The Ferrari driver used Pirelli’s P Zero Purple ultrasoft and Red supersoft tyres in the expected fastest strategy, running a longer – and faster – first stint than teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified on pole and finished second. A similar strategy was employed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to make up two places from his grid position and claim a podium finish.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claimed his first Formula One victory in the Russian Grand Prix with a one-stop strategy used by most drivers, as has always been the case in Sochi. The Finn took the lead on the first corner from third on the grid using ultrasoft, stopping for the supersoft tyre before his key rival: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won the Bahrain Grand Prix with a two-stop strategy, from the second row of the grid. All the drivers apart from Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein stopped twice, while his team mate Marcus Ericsson was the only driver to begin the race on the soft tyre. In the warm conditions of the evening, degradation was contained on both compounds, enabling drivers to push hard throughout every stint.
Pirelli’s testing programme for its new wider P Zero Formula One tyres for 2017 has begun at Fiorano in Italy. Sebastian Vettel piloted a Ferrari SF15-T specifically modified to simulate the new aero rules and to accommodate tyres in 2017 size. The four-time world champion is testing on 1 August before handing the car over to Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez on Tuesday 2 August.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was victorious in Austria, winning the Austrian Grand Prix from pole position using a two-stop strategy. Teammate Nico Rosberg collided with Hamilton as the Briton passed him on the final lap of an action-packed grand prix, having used the timing of his pit stop tyre strategy to boost his position, “undercutting” a number of drivers including his team mate (who started from pole) to lead the race. Following contact with Hamilton, Rosberg’s car sustained front wing damage, leading to his fourth place finish. More worryingly for tyre supplier Pirelli was the blowout that ended Sebastian Vettel’s grand prix, the causes of which the manufacturer said it was investigating with the constructor, Ferrari.
Pirelli has concluded a two-day wet tyre test at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull were present at the test, having accepted Pirelli’s invitation to all the teams to take part. Paul Ricard’s sophisticated variable sprinkler system allowed Pirelli to test with different amounts of water on the track in order to simulate a wide range of wet conditions.
Pirelli has concluded its investigation into Sebastian Vettel’s tyre failure in the closing stages of the Belgian grand prix. The exclusive Formula One tyre supplier stated its technical analysis had found no structural problem with the tyres used at Spa, and the blowout that ended Vettel’s race came as the result of exceptional “combined effect of debris on the track and prolonged tyre usage on a circuit that is particularly demanding.”
Paul Hembery may have recalled the 2013 British Grand Prix debacle as he watched the spectacular tyre failure that robbed Sebastian Vettel of a podium finish in yesterday’s race at Spa. Vettel certainly did after the event, and he didn’t shy away from sharing his thoughts on the Pirelli rubber. This negative publicity couldn’t come at a worse time for the tyre maker, as the tender process to decide between Pirelli and Michelin supply from 2017 is currently under way.
An early safety car at the Austrian Grand Prix made one-stop the default strategy, though with a number of grid penalties in operation, many drivers were planning long stints from the start. Chief among these was Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who ran for 50 laps on his original set of P Zero Yellow soft tyres, ending up in the points after starting 18th on the grid, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished fourth after completing 36 laps on the P Zero Red supersoft.
Prior to the start of yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery expected teams to make three tyre change stops during the race. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel opted to stop only twice, and this may well have been the decisive factor in his 8.57 second victory over Lewis Hamilton. The Malaysian GP victory was the first win for Vettel and Ferrari since 2013, and this fourth victory in Malaysia – the 40th of his career – means that Vettel is now the most successful driver in the history of the Malaysian Grand Prix.