40 SPRING 2017
the FIA. And we believe we’ve been
given a very clear input from the FIA.
“There has been a very structured
testing plan that includes the leading
drivers and teams giving us feedback
from the outset. That doesn’t guarantee
that we’ll give them everything that they
want, because sometimes what they want
isn’t what we’ve been asked by the FIA to
produce. We have listened to the drivers.
production of F1 race tires – Slatina,
Romania, and Izmet, Turkey. As well as its
tires for F1, the facilities also produce
rubber for GP2, GP3 and various global GT
series, including the Pirelli World Challenge.
It takes about four days in all to
produce a racing tire, but that doesn’t
count the never-ending cycle of R&D
taking place at Pirelli’s labs in Milan and
Turin, Italy. Being the pinnacle of
technology also means that what’s new
today is quickly outdated tomorrow.
“The real technology in tires, and
what never stops, but is hard to see and
appreciate, is the material development,”
says Hembrey. “While a tire today
compared to one from 20 years ago
may look very similar from the outside,
the material difference, and the
advantages of those new materials,
have come a very long way.”
The 2017 tires represent a completely
new design, material and construction
from what has been used in the past.
In the case of Slatina, all of the base
materials are produced elsewhere at the
plant before arriving at the motorsports
section. Each part of the process, starting
with the base batch of rubber compound,
is barcoded and tracked, ensuring that
every detail is traceable, and that
technicians along the line know precisely
which tire they are working with.
As the base material arrives in a flat
sheet cut to a pre-specified length, the
first stage of assembly is to mount the
bead and belt package by hand. This is a
critical stage of the process, affecting how
the rest of the assembly will go. Despite the
precision of the machinery available, a
robot is still no match for the highly-trained hands and eyes of a technician.
From that point, the process of forming
and curing the tires is automated.
As Pirelli’s director
since 2011, Paul
all racing activity
on two and four
includes stints on
both the R&D and
of the business.
Drivers get 13 sets of
dry-weather tires per
GP weekend. Pirelli
compounds for each
race. Two sets, which
may be different
mandated by Pirelli. In
addition one of the soft
options is reserved for
Q3. Drivers choose the
remaining 10 sets.
(BELOW LEFT) Two
full quotas of Pirelli
tires at Williams.
(BELOW RIGHT) 2017
tires broke cover at
Monaco in ’ 16.
“The real technology
in tires, and what never
stops, is the material
Primarily, what they’ve wanted is less
heat sensitivity so they can push more in
the overtaking zones.”
Overall, initial reactions from Barcelona
were positive, with Mercedes’ Lewis
Hamilton noting: “Normally you have a
lot of degradation in these tires, but these
ones don’t. But there isn’t a lot of
performance at the beginning of the tire.
They are very consistent, hard tires.
There’s not a big difference from early
on to later ina run. There is a bit of a
drop-off, but not massive.”
Pirelli has two locations for the