Pirelli to reduce performance gap between compounds
Pirelli have unveiled their new tyres for the 2012 Formula One championship. All four dry weather tyres will be more squarer and be made of softer compounds to compensate for the new aerodynamic set-ups of the cars. Apart from the technicalities, the colour markings have also been adapted for visibility purposes.
Pirelli gets the 2012 Formula One season underway, its second as sole supplier, by presenting the new range of tyres for the 63rd FIA World Championship at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. The key characteristics of the new tyres – developed by Pirelli together with the teams in response to the latest aerodynamic regulations regarding blown exhausts – are: squarer profiles, increased grip, and softer, more competitive compounds with consistent degradation.
Pirelli's objective for the 2012 tyres is to ensure entertaining races that remain unpredictable all the way up to the chequered flag, with two to three pit stops per race and a strong emphasis on team strategies. The coloured markings on the sidewalls now change to become bigger and more easily recognisable, while the Cinturato name that has become emblematic in Formula One history returns: the tyre with which Pirelli raced and won in the 1950s. From 2012, Cinturato will denote the full wet and intermediate tyres.
The company's Racing Tyre System also returns, with some new functionality. This is a platform created by Pirelli’s engineers in order to record the behaviour and performance of each tyre: information that is shared with the teams and Formula One Management (FOM).
Marco Tronchetti Provera, Pirelli CEO said: “After the positive experience of last year, the teams asked us to continue providing tyres with the characteristics that contributed to spectacular races in 2011. And this is what we have done, optimising the compounds and profiles in order to guarantee even better and more stable performance, combined with the deliberate degradation that characterised the P Zero range from 2011. We’re expecting unpredictable races, with a wide range of strategies and a number of pit stops: all factors that both competitors and spectators greatly enjoyed last year. The development work on the new compounds took place throughout the 2011 season, thanks to the impressive learning curve and reaction times from our engineers, who are ready to continue those evolutions during the season ahead.”
Just as was the case last year, Pirelli will supply the teams with four slick tyre compounds – supersoft, soft, medium and hard – along with two types of wet weather tyre as prescribed by the FIA rules (see separate article). All the P Zero slick tyres will feature a brand new profile compared to 2011 and three of them (the soft, medium and hard) will also have new compounds. The new compounds are softer, with increased grip, better performance, a longer performance peak, but an unaltered overall lifespan. Of the wet weather tyres, only the full wet – the Cinturato Blue – has changed, while the intermediate tyre, the Cinturato Green, is unaltered (see separate article).
The evolution of the Pirelli tyres for 2012 has also taken into account the regulation changes introduced by the FIA regarding blown exhausts. This new measure, which should result in a reduction of aerodynamic downforce acting on each tyre, requires a wider and more even contact patch. This objective has been met by having a less rounded shoulder on each tyre and using softer compounds, which produce better grip and more extreme performance. The performance gap has changed as well between the different compounds, which all now perform better. During the 2011 season, there was a difference of between 1.2 and 1.8 seconds per lap among the different compounds. This year, the objective is to reduce that to less than a second: between six and eight tenths.
Racing Tyre System: Pirelli creates a passport for each tyre.
In order to develop the 2012 tyres, Pirelli’s engineers relied heavily on the Racing Tyre System (RTS): a computer-based platform able to gather and process the performance data of every tyre during tests and races. The Racing Tyre System, developed by Pirelli’s Information Technology department, allows users to monitor the performance, wear and behaviour of the tyres throughout every phase of their use. On top of that, the RTS tracks the life of each tyre from construction to circuit, updating, in real-time, its use, performance and wear rate. After each tyre has been made in the Izmit factory – where all of Pirelli’s competition tyres are produced – the RTS registers the construction data of each tyre as a type of individual passport. The information on each tyre is built up as it arrives at a circuit and gets fitted onto a car. From that point on, the tyre’s temperature, pressure and wear rate are all registered and made immediately available to Pirelli’s engineers on the track, using special tablet computers, as well as to Pirelli’s research division in Milan and to all the teams. This constitutes a virtual database that is continually updated, forming the starting point for analysis of each car’s performance and future development of the tyres (see separate article).
The Cinturato returns: a world champion in the 1950s
The 2012 season marks the return of the Cinturato name to the pinnacle of world motorsport: a brand that is not only linked to Formula One but also to the entire industrial history of tyre manufacture. The Cinturato made its debut in 1951 on Juan Manuel Fangio’s Alfa 159, taking him to championship victory, and was often seen on the podium along with another Pirelli tyre: the Stella Bianca, which was fitted to the Maserati and the Ferrari 375. The Cinturato competed in Formula One right up to the mid 1950s, after which it became a road car tyre for the most sporting and technically advanced cars of the day.
The Cinturato tyre really made its name as a benchmark in the automotive industry throughout the 1960s, when it was at the forefront of mass motoring.The innovative technology, developed for the Cinturato in the 1950s, took its name from the radial belt (or ‘cintura’, in Italian) that went all the way around the tyre carcass, initially made out of textile fibre and later out of metal. This innovation paved the way for wider tyres that were able to cope with the higher cornering speeds reached by cars from the 1960s onwards. Today, as well as denoting Pirelli’s wet weather Formula One tyres, the Cinturato identifies one of the most successful products in the global tyre industry: the Cinturato P7, which perfectly illustrates Pirelli’s brand values of performance, safety, durability and energy-saving.