RUBBER BULLET POINTS
tire to degrade, the next task is controlling the degradation. Getting tires to fade uniformly across different compounds and in different conditions is a difficult mission. While some of Pirelli’s development work has been done on-track with drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi in a 2010- spec Renault, much more of it takes place virtually, via modeling and simulations. The technology developed in this arena is the greatest benefit Pirelli has seen from its F1 program, according to Hembery. “When we entered Formula 1, a lot of people said, ‘what will you take from it for the road car tires?’” he says. “But when we entered F1 we only had eight months to get ready, and it was actually a case of what our road car business has given to motorsport. A lot of the simulation work was initiated through other activities we’d
had with car manufacturers. Motorsport
provides a fantastic laboratory, but there
are also benefits in terms of methods of
working. A speedy response is
fundamental in motorsport.”
Pirelli’s high-degradation approach
wasn’t initially popular with the F1
drivers, unimpressed by tires that limited
their capability to run at 100 percent,
100 percent of the time. Hembery
believes that the drivers have more
control over the limit than it seems, even if
not all of them work out how to exploit it.
“You drive to the maximum performance
of the package; that’s true at every level of
motorsport,” he says. “Drivers have always
been in command of steering, brake and
throttle, so all of that aspect is in their
hands still. Initially you saw certain drivers
came to the fore because they were able to
use the performance better than others.
“Lewis Hamilton is someone who people
suggested might suffer, but after the first few
races on Pirellis, he clearly understood what
he needed to do to get the maximum out
of the tire. So a driver will have to think
about it, but they’re in control of it.”
In some ways tires never change; in
others, they never stop. What are Pirelli’s
F1 tires like this year? They’re round. And
black. And devious.
Deliberately making high-degradation tires
went against Pirelli’s usual philosophy. Paul
Hembery (ABOVE LEFT) points out that
drivers have always had to drive within the
limits of the equipment – or not, as Felipe
Massa demonstrates at Jerez testing
(ABOVE). RACER’s take on Hembery’s
fantasy tire – a qualifier (TOP RIGHT).
Pirelli’s 2013 Formula 1 tires are more
aggressive than last year’s, with the
entire range of compounds softer than
their 2012 equivalents and a larger
performance gap between each
compound to increase the strategic
options available to the teams.
For Paul Hembery, they’re the latest
manifestation of a Pirelli relationship
that began in the mid-1970s when he
stood in a wet forest and watched
Markku Alen go past in a Pirelli-backed
Lancia Stratos on the RAC Rally.
“I was moaning, because it was
freezing cold and, being 10 years old,
everything was horrible,” he recalls.
“I really didn’t want to be there. Then
I heard this noisy thing coming down
the road, and this car went by with
flames coming out the back. And I
went, ‘Ooh, this is alright.’”
His links to the company were
cemented when he joined in 1992, and
in the intervening years he’s seen
almost the full spectrum of racing
rubber come off the assembly line.
Which begs the question: In a totally
unrestricted world, what sort of tires
would he like to see in F1?
“A qualifying tire,” he says, without
hesitation. “That’s the most obvious
one. Two-lap wonder, you’ve got to get
it perfectly right, no margin for error.
You’ve got to do your perfect lap.”
In keeping with Pirelli’s practice of
color coding its various compounds,
he’s even thought about how such a
tire would be identified.
“You’d have to go with purple, like on
the timing screen when you do the best
time,” he says. “That would be the best
color. We’ve said we would give it to the
sport if they asked for it. But at the
moment, they’re not asking for it.”
IN A PERFECT,
A GOOD MAUVE