Pirelli: How Formula 1 tyres are made

BY CHERYL TAY

Tyres are a very important part of the car, being the only part of the vehicle that is in contact with the ground. Taking over as sole official tyre for Formula 1 this year is Italian tyre company Pirelli.

Paul Hembery (Photo courtesy of Pirelli)

During the Singapore Grand Prix last week, I had the opportunity to lunch with Paul Hembery, global motorsports director for Pirelli, who shared how challenging the F1 journey has been for the company thus far.

Hembery was based in Singapore during the inaugural Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix in 2008. While watching the world's first and only night race, Hembery sent a text to his Chief Executive Officer saying "This is where we (Pirelli) need to be."

He was supposed to be posted to Russia next, after Singapore, and was undergoing training for his Russia project when the topic of Formula 1 came about. After some serious discussion within the company, a meeting was then set up with Bernie Ecclestone sometime in March. From there, things snowballed quickly and negotiations for the deal started going back and forth.

Finally, the deal was inked in June 2010.

With the contract only given to them at such short notice, Pirelli just had eight months to build the facilities and form a team to develop the tyres for Formula 1. It was a huge challenge putting everything together but Pirelli has been enjoying the process.

Within three months of being nominated as the official sole tyre supplier for Formula 1, the first tests took place and then the first official tests with teams took place in Abu Dhabi at the end of the 2010 season.

"At the moment, we're almost to the end of the season and everything is so intensive it feels as though it has been two to three years already. All of us work seven days 24 hours, but the results have been positive. Despite the championship being dominated by one car and one driver, people are still watching," said Hembery.

"Going forward, our commitment to Formula 1 is three years at the moment. We like to take a medium view; it's not something we are doing short term. Being in Formula 1 has a tremendous impact on our brand recognition globally.

The company's very ambitious — We want to grow and expand as a company, to create more awareness for our brand especially in the Asia region. In Europe and South America we are very well-known but in certain regions like Asia, we need to make ourselves more known. Formula 1 has six races in Asia and it's an ideal platform for us to make our presence known."

Pirelli is the sole official tyre provider for Formula One

Part of the brief from the Formula 1 teams and organiser included this task — "more overtaking, more pit stops, a better show and better races to remember". To create a Formula 1 tyre is not as simple as coming up with just one tyre — Pirelli had to come up with tyres for the entire season and these tyres had to be "equally effective on 20 different circuits, with hugely varying track and weather conditions, as well as on 12 different cars with 24 potentially different driving styles."

In the Pirelli Milan research laboratory, 150 research engineers work just on Formula 1and at the motorsport department in Izmit, Turkey, about 200 people work in the Formula 1 department to put theory into practice and finished tyres are produced here. They are then taken to an experimental test centre in Milan for physical tests and simulations.

The tyres are accelerated to 450km/h by special machines and subjected to loads four times greater than those experienced during normal usage, for periods of time up to 20 times longer than usual. This scientific evaluation recreates conditions commonly occurred in Formula 1, such as vertical forces superior to 1,000kg, longitudinal acceleration equivalent to 5G, tread pattern temperatures higher than 150 degrees and impacts with kerbs at 260km/h.

Only tyres that survive these tests will move on to the next stage of development. When the data from the practical tests matches the theoretical results, then the tyres will move on to a real circuit for testing.

Altogether, Pirelli has done 13 tests in Europe and the Middle East, covering 18,000km during private testing with circuits in Barcelona, Monza, Jerez de la Frontera, Le Castellet, Mugello, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Finally, only those that survive can then be part of the final selection offered to the Formula 1 teams.

There are four slick tyres in 2011 — supersoft, soft, medium, hard — and two rain tyres — intermediate and wet. Pirelli takes about 1,800 tyres to each race, in the two compounds that are pre-selected for each Grand Prix, as well as a supply of rain tyres in case of wet weather. Each team also has a dedicated Pirelli engineer who is continuously monitoring the tyres.

Here are some fun facts of the Pirelli P-Zero Formula 1 tyre in numbers:

  • Over 100 elements in each tyre
  • 18 structural components
  • 5 hours of work needed to make each tyre
  • Total weight of a front wheel and tyre = 8.5kg approx
  • Total weight of a rear wheel and tyre = 9.5kg approx
  • About 1,800 tyres are taken to each Grand Prix
  • 30 laps is the average working life of each tyre under race conditions
  • 450km/h is the maximum speed reached by tyres during lab tests
  • 260km/h is the speed at which tyres were impacted against kerbs during testing
  • 5G of longitudinal acceleration affects each tyre (4.5G is vertical acceleration)
  • 150 degrees Celsius is the temperature the tread pattern is exposed to in lab testing
  • Contact patch increases 3 times in size under full aerodynamic load

Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at www.cheryl-tay.com.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Next leader must not be newbie’
    ‘Next leader must not be newbie’

    Vice President Jejomar Binay believes the next president of the Philippines must have vast experience and a long track record in governance and in dealing with crises. “I am very much convinced that the local government is the best training ground for those who want to run for national government positions,” he said. Binay said he is determined to run for president in 2016 on the strength of his competence and track record. …

  • Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning
    Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning

    A suspect in the Maguindanao massacre case who had been examined at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) tested negative for poisoning, medical records released yesterday showed. However, the Quezon City court handling the multiple murder case resolved to isolate Police Officer 1 Pia Kamidon from the rest of the accused detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig for his safety. In a two-page order, Regional Trial Court Branch 221 assisting Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada ordered jail officials to …

  • ‘Homework first before Facebook’
    ‘Homework first before Facebook’

    President Aquino elicited laughter from students here as he reminded them to open books first before Facebook. “Finish your assignments first before making a raid in the Clash of Clans,” Aquino said, referring to a popular online game. In a speech during the turnover yesterday of two new three-story buildings at the Tarlac National High School, he said the government could only provide opportunities for learning but the rest of the work would be up to the students. The new school buildings …

  • Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement
    Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement

    President Aquino ended speculations yesterday and confirmed that Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina had indeed resigned as officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police. As of this time, we are conducting various interviews and checks on the various candidates,” Aquino told reporters at the Tarlac National High School in Tarlac City. Aquino had kind words for Espina, saying that he stood by and defended the 44 slain police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in the operation in …

  • Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation
    Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation

    President Aquino welcomed yesterday the Group of Seven industrialized countries’ expression of concern over rising tension in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, calling it a clear indication of the global scope of the problem ramped up by China’s massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. In Tarlac City where he led the turnover of new classrooms, Aquino told reporters that goodwill and not tension must prevail in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, where territorial …

  • DepEd, TESDA tie up for K to 12
    DepEd, TESDA tie up for K to 12

    The Department of Education (DepEd) has partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in the first two years of implementation of the K to 12 program. “We will use TESDA centers as technical-vocational laboratories for senior high school,” DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said during the inauguration of 30 new classrooms at the Tarlac National High School yesterday. The classrooms were constructed in partnership with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. …

  • SE Asia Stocks-Philippine falls on foreign selling; others flat to weaker

    BANGKOK, April 17 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets ended flat to weaker on Friday as Philippine stocks slid on selling led by foreign funds and Singapore shares extended losses with investors ... …

  • Philippine Airlines parent says back in black
    Philippine Airlines parent says back in black

    Philippine Airlines' parent firm said it had returned to profitability, the first time in three years either entity reported being in the black for an entire year. In a filing with the Philippine Stock Exchange Thursday, PAL Holdings reported an after-tax net profit of 129.74 million pesos ($2.93 million) in its fiscal year to December 31. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options