New Pirelli hard compound tire set to debut at Spanish F1 race

Jan. 1, 2020
From one of the most infrequently used tracks of the Formula One racing season, Turkey's Istanbul Park, Pirelli is now heading to one of the most popular ? the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain.
From one of the most infrequently used tracks of the Formula One racing season, Turkey’s Istanbul Park, Pirelli is now heading to one of the most popular – the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain.

The track is a frequent site for tire testing, with the company’s P Zeros having seen action there four times in the past; once last year in private testing, twice this year during the official test season and once more as part of Pirelli’s on-going private test campaign in April.

Both Pirelli and the racing crews have accumulated significant amount data about Barcelona, which is typically chosen for testing as it contains a challenging mixture of corners and speeds – highlighting every aspect of a car’s performance – and generally good weather conditions all year round.

However, during one of the company’s most recent appearances at Barcelona in March for the final official test, the weather was unseasonably bad with cool temperatures and even torrential rain. This time around the temperatures should be a lot warmer, providing a perfect backdrop for the racing debut of the latest evolution of the P Zero Silver (hard compound) tire, according to motorsports director Paul Hembery.

The compound has already undergone testing in Turkey and Spain using the tire maker’s Toyota TF109 test car.

The new tire offers a little more durability over a race distance and provides a wider gap between the soft and the hard compound, which gives the teams an opportunity to run more aggressive strategies, says Hembery.

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The P Zero Yellow (soft) tire, which has been used at every race so far this year alongside the P Zero Silver (hard) tire, will also be provided to the teams in Barcelona.

“We said from the start of the year that we would introduce evolutions of the tires if we believed that they would benefit the sport, and Barcelona marks the first occasion that we have done this,” he says.

“The new tire – which we have tested extensively – reduces degradation and improves tire wear. It’s not a huge step over the original hard tire but it does mean that there is a bigger gap between the soft and the hard tire, which will definitely make things even more interesting on race day and give teams the opportunity to use more creative strategies,” Hembery continues.

“In Barcelona, based on the data we have seen in testing, we’re probably expecting around three pit stops per car. It takes a lot longer to enter and leave the pits in Barcelona than it did in Turkey, and this is another factor that will have a definite influence on strategy,” he says.

“We know the Catalunya circuit very well because of all the testing the teams do there,” notes driver Jaime Alguersuari. “However, when we come to this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, the situation will be quite different in terms of tire performance because of the increase in air and track temperature,” he says.

“During winter testing the tires were never really operating in their correct working range of temperature, so it was difficult to get them warmed up. Nevertheless, it was useful in terms of giving you some idea about tire balance and even degradation. Sector three of the track will be the key to the lap time and the part of the circuit where tire behavior will play a vital role. This part of the track is tough on the tires, and then there is Turn 12, which will be quite tricky as it is very demanding and you can really feel the tires working here,” Alguersuari explains.

Also, the exit to the final corner is going to be interesting in terms of the tires because of the loads they are subjected to here. In qualifying, it will be important to get the tires working properly, as you will only want to do one lap to set a time, in order to keep the tires as fresh as possible for the race,” he says.

 

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Pirelli has an extremely active presence in Spain dating back to 1924, Hembery reports.

The company bought its first tire factory in Manresa, close to Barcelona, which went on to become one of the most modern logistics hubs in Europe, he says, adding that the facility is recognized as the No. 1 logistics service among the tire firms in Spain.

Hembery also says that Pirelli has grown to become the second-most prominent tire company in Spain in terms of sales and brand recognition, and it is the sales leader in Spain when it comes to motorbike tires.

Spain is one of the world leaders in motorsports, hosting two Formula One grand prix events and four international motorbike races, enhancing Pirelli’s profile throughout the country; the company is also active in Spanish rallying.

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

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