Top Formula One pilot pushing Pirelli's new racing tires to the limit

Jan. 1, 2020
Pirelli has started its debut Formula One tire development program with German driver Nick Heidfeld, the tire maker?s official test pilot as it returns to the circuit for the first time in 20 years.

Pirelli has started its debut Formula One tire development program with German driver Nick Heidfeld, the tire maker’s official test pilot as it returns to the circuit for the first time in 20 years.

Heidfeld will use Toyota’s Formula One car from last year, the TF109, to test the new rubber that all the teams will using beginning in 2011.

The 33-year-old raced in Formula One up until the end of last year, having spent 10 seasons in the sport during which he started in more than 150 races. Throughout his career he scored 219 points, including 12 podium finishes, and he is currently chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

The TF109 was the last Formula One car produced by Toyota before it withdrew at the end of 2009 after scoring five podiums in its final season. The car provides contemporary technology and performance to test the new Pirelli P Zero Formula One tires to the limit, but does not hand an advantage to any current team, according to motorsports director Paul Hembery.

Heidfeld is driving in a series of test sessions on several different circuits; the tire development work will “focus on finding the delicate compromise needed between performance, durability and spectacle next season,” Hembery reports.

“The Toyota was the perfect solution, as it is a contemporary racing machine with proven speed and reliability but without links to any of the manufacturers currently competing in Formula One,” he explains. “I’m confident that we have an extremely good package that will give us every opportunity to maximize the potential of our tires prior to the start of next season.”

 

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Pirelli’s development testing is getting underway less than two months after Pirelli reached a three-year agreement to be the sole tire supplier to the Formula One World Championship. Pirelli will also supply the GP2 and GP3 circuits.

Following Heidfeld’s on-track work with the Toyota, all the current Formula One teams will get the chance to test the new tires after the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

Heidfeld’s role will be vital as Pirelli fine-tunes the specification of four compounds, two of which will be used in each race next year as per the current regulations. He holds the record for the highest number of consecutive race classifications (41) and he also managed to finish every race during the 2008 season.

“The role of test driver is a crucial one, so we were looking for a driver who had plenty of recent Formula One experience, the speed to push our new tires as hard as possible, and the consistency to provide reliable simulations, as well as the analytical skills to relay information accurately to our engineers,” Hembery points out.

“Through the experience I have built up over the years,” says Heidfeld, “I’m confident that I will be able to provide Pirelli with some important feedback regarding the development of next year’s tires.”

For more information, visit www.us.pirelli.com.

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