Vettel aces tight Monaco Grand Prix race riding on Pirelli tires

Jan. 1, 2020
Tire strategy was at the forefront of the action at the Monaco Grand Prix, with a three-way fight between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, who were separated by less than a second with only 15 laps to go. Such was the pace of the
Tire strategy was at the forefront of the action at the Monaco Grand Prix, with a three-way fight between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, who were separated by less than a second with only 15 laps to go. Such was the pace of the leading trio that they pulled away from the fourth-placed driver by nearly a minute.

The top three all employed completely different race strategies: Vettel stopped once, moving from Pirelli’s P Zero Red supersofts to the P Zero Yellow softs on lap 16 and making his final set of soft tires last for 56 laps. Alonso chose a two-stop strategy, starting on the supersoft before moving onto two sets of soft tires, with his last stop on lap 34.

Button, meanwhile, went for a sprint strategy by taking three stops. While there was a wide diversity of strategies, the top three remained in close contact at a race where Pirelli’s supersoft was making its competition debut.

As the race entered its final 10 laps, the leading trio was still close in a fight for supremacy before a crash caused a safety car period followed by a red flag with just six laps left to go. As the rules allow teams to work on the cars during a suspended race, the drivers were allowed to change tires before the race resumed in a final sprint to the finish.

The top three all chose Pirelli’s P Zero Red supersoft tires for the run to the flag, which ended with Vettel’s first win in Monaco. It was Pirelli’s first victory in Monaco since the 1957 race, which was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in a Maserati.

“We were privileged to see one of the closest ever battles for victory in Monaco: the most prestigious race of the year,” says motorsports director Paul Hembery. “The top three used completely different tire strategies but came out more or less together, which is exactly what we were aiming for at the start of the year. It’s great to see the tire strategy forming such a prominent part of the action; giving us a fascinating battle for the lead where any of the top three drivers would have been very deserving winners. Had it not been for the red flag in the closing stages, I’m sure that their fight would have continued all the way to the very end,” he adds.

“With the fastest-ever qualifying lap of Monaco,” Hembery recounts, “and some drivers going for more than 50 laps on the P Zero Yellow, Pirelli has supplied both performance and adaptability with this year’s Formula One tires.”

Pirelli’s supersoft compound tires had a successful debut during the third round of the GP2 Series during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

 

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Pirelli decided to equip the GP2 drivers with its softest compound because of the specific layout of the unique street circuit, which is tight and twisty. The lap is typified by low speed and grip levels combined with a smooth and slippery surface.

Though the sizes are the same, the compound and structure of the GP2 supersoft tires are different to the P Zero Red supersoft tires used in Formula One and this mainly because the series regulations do not permit tire blankets, unlike Formula One. For this reason, Pirelli has developed for the GP2 Series a very specific tire compound that is able to rapidly reach its ideal operating temperature.

“We are very satisfied with the performance of our P Zero supersoft rubber, which has proved to be a very consistent tire that contributed to some great on-track action in Monaco,” explains racing manager Mario Isola. “Before coming here, the GP2 drivers did not have a chance to try out our very softest compound – not even during the pre-season tests. In spite of this, they adapted themselves very quickly to this new challenge while both the performance and durability of this tire was exactly in line with what we expected.”

The P Zero tires enjoyed a special welcome in the principality with Monaco’s Prince Albert autographing a GP2 show tire, which was also signed by local hero Stefano Coletti; the tire will be donated to charity together with the driver’s racing suit, which is a special one-off design for the Monaco event.

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

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