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.

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …

  • It’s time to move on– Speaker
    It’s time to move on– Speaker

    The nation can now move on as President Aquino has satisfactorily explained his side on the Mamasapano incident for which he even begged for understanding, lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. “It’s time to move on,” Belmonte said in reaction to Aquino’s pronouncements made before new police graduates at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) last Thursday. The President has spoken far too much about what he knows and about his limited involvement in the …

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options