Ave Pirelli

The Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli returns to Formula 1 this year as the official supplier of racing tyres to all the teams for the next three years. Since August last year the company has conducted nine different private tests using an old Toyota TF109 chassis which has been driven by Nick Heidfeld, Roman Grosjean and Pedro de la Rosa at Mugello, Monza, Barcelona, Valencia, Jerez, Paul Ricard, Bahrain and, most recently, in Abu Dhabi. The Pirelli test drivers have covered more than 8,000 miles in different weather conditions to develop six different tyre compounds for use this year: four for the dry and two for the wet. The most recent test took place at night on the artificially wet Yas Marina track, simulating the kind of conditions that drivers could encounter this year.

“This is a unique opportunity to witness a Formula1 test car on track at night in the wet and on hot tarmac, in an entirely floodlit setting,” said Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s F1 Team Director. “We decided to do it this way because we want to challenge our rain tyres with the most difficult and demanding of all situations. It is seven months since we started developing our tyres and five since we started with the actual testing. We are very satisfied with the results so far.”

Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera
Pirelli engineers have also collected considerable feedback from the teams following a test in the days after the final 2010 race in Abu Dhabi. This featured 15 drivers, including Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa and added another 6,800 miles to the testing total.

Pirelli says that it will supply a total of 50,000 F1 tyres this season. These will be produced in a special unit of Pirelli’s Izmit factory in Turkey. Each team will have its own Pirelli engineer and there will be a crew of 50 Pirelli staff at each event. The team will be based at the company’s Centro Ricerca e Sviluppo in Milan, Italy.

The company says that it will adopt a much more aggressive approach than its predecessor Bridgestone, using softer tyre compounds so that tyre wear is more of an issue for the teams. In an effort to help the spectators know what is going on the aim is to use colour coding on the tyres, with the “Pirelli P Zero” lettering on the sidewall of the tyres being in different colours for the different compounds. The latest reports suggest that super-soft tyres will be red; soft white; medium blue and hard yellow. In wet conditions the full wets will be yellow and the intermediates red. The only confusion likely will be in drying conditions when drivers switch from wet to dry tyres.

13 thoughts on “Ave Pirelli

  1. What a bizarre colour scheme! You’d think it’d go something like:

    Supersoft – red
    Soft – orange
    Medium – yellow
    Hard – white

    although I suppose to avoid confusion once they get dirty, something like:

    Supersoft – red
    Soft – yellow
    Medium – white
    Hard – blue

    would be better, wouldn’t you? Anyway, something vaguely spectrum-based, rather than the seemingly-random combination they’ve come up with there.

    It’d also be nice if they could come up with a couple of different colours for the two wet variants, there are several more available last time I looked.

  2. I think the colour coding of tyres is a good idea, definately better than the ‘green rim’ of previous seasons. Just need to stick a ‘tyre legend’ next to the TV once the season starts…

  3. I’d be rather wary of Pirellis claim that running at a very hot Yas Marina in the wet is going to ‘simulate’ conditions the cars may come across this year. Nine times out of ten when its raining at an F1 race it is cold (certainly ‘cold’ by tyre operating temperatures) as anyone who has been to Spa when its raining will attest.
    Thus part of the problem being not only the rain but getting heat into the tyres to make them work.

    I think wet races could turn out to be very entertaining this year!

  4. The colour coding is a nice idea, although with HD it may be a bit easier either way. I just hope Pirelli do not succumb to the teams moaning that the compounds are too soft, like we saw in Canada last year.

    In an unrelated note Joe, any ideas on how KERS/flap system will be relayed to fans on TV? I am looking forward to this years coverage, the HD broadcast in my region goes live in April just in time for the Chinese GP, I can’t wait to see those empty seats in high definition.

  5. @Ambient Sheep

    I suspect – or at least, I hope – the colour scheme has been chosen with an eye (sorry) to making the differences obvious between whichever of the the two dry compounds are used at each race.

    That said, I prefer the Bridgestone approach of the green stripe on the “option” tyre as I’m slightly colour-blind…

  6. All the focus on how exciting next year could be has been on KERS and the new rear wings, but last year Canada was the best Grand Prix of the whole season because the teams had tyres they couldn’t run for 60 laps on. These new softer tyres might be the best thing to happen to F1 in years.

    Not so thrilled about the colour coding though, what was wrong with the green stripe? The only person in the world who that confused was Jonathan Legard and he’s not a problem anymore.

  7. @Jakub,

    I have a great idea how to indicate rear-flap adjustment – a strobe-light should be built in to the air-intake housing. When the trailing car is in the window to use it (on the right part of the circuit, within the right distance of the car in front, moon in the third house), the light begins to flash. When the driver hits the button, the light stays on, then goes out when the flap returns to normal.

    Then for KERS deployment, maybe a jet of flame from the rear of the car..?

    (Sorry, Joe – too flippant?)

  8. YuppieScum,

    there’s a link between strobes and Epilepsy. They can actually bring it on, at the “right” freqency.

    Just saying,

    all best,

    – john

  9. I really wish that the FIA had held back on the moveable rearwing idea for until after we’d seen how the new Pirrelli tyres would be. As has been already metioned, the race in CAnada was superb in large part because of the high tyre wear rate. As this is something Pirrelli has been targeting to repeat since day 1, why not wait to see how that plays out before bringing in what I see as a ludicrous and expenisve idea that won’t work as intended anyway.

  10. I can’t believe anyone thinks using really soft tyres and two ‘compulsory’ pit stops is a good idea. That is all based on one race in Canada last year and there were many other factors that contributed to that race. As usual F1 is looking for a quick, simple fix to a complicated problem and this is the latest knee-jerk reaction. As normal it is incredibly stupid.


    One thing I have noticed is that none of the Pirelli tyres seem to have any obvious indication of running direction on them other than hand scribbled indication of whihc wheel they should go on. Do you know if production tyres will have something more obvious? I would hate to see a race decided because a tyre ended up on the wrong side of the car and threw a tread. I guess the other alternative is that Pirelli tyres are not uni-directional.

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