With more than 80% of the lap spent on full throttle, Monza is known as the temple of speed. No better place then, for Pirelli to announce ithe first-ever road tyre directly derived from Formula One. Among the guests in attendance at the P Zero Silver presentation held in a spectacular hangar close Pirelli’s HQ in Milan were Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button and Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali.
“I think the tyre is key to the performance of a car,” said Button at the event. “I personally feel that Pirelli has done a great job in bringing so many different types of tyre that work in so many different scenarios. It’s been fantastic working with Pirelli and I really enjoy the relationship we have. It’s definitely been more fun this year. If you look at the amount of overtaking we have now, it not all down to the Drag Reduction System and the KERS. A lot of it is down to the tyres. Formula One is in a great place right now; the most competitive it’s been since I’ve been involved in the sport.”
The 5.793-kilometre lap of Monza is sure to be even quicker this year thanks to an extensive DRS zone during qualifying that covers 74% of the lap. The higher the speed, the more energy is transmitted through the hard-working tyres. We take a closer look at exactly what the rubber goes through during a typical lap of Monza…
After building up speed, the drivers are hard on the brakes for the first corner, the Variante del Rettifilio, shedding 250kph in about three seconds. The drivers are travelling at more than 300kph on bumpy asphalt, which makes it hard to hold the ideal line under braking. The energy dissipated helps to maximise the grip available but generates temperatures on the tyre tread that peak at 150 degrees.
One of the key corners, and a good place to overtake, is Roggia. Taking the ideal line, the car uses a lot of the kerbing, putting a huge amount of stress on the carcass of each tyre. While it may not look so dramatic from the outside, the reality is that the drivers and cars really feel the impact. The internal structure of the tyre is particularly rigid, reducing the risk of sliding and ensuring the maximum driving precision.
Another famous part of the track is the Variante Ascari: part of a sequence of corners taken at high speed. On the entry to the corner, the tyre determines how the car turns in and the amount of grip it can generate through the corners. On the exit, the grip from the soft tyre in particular allows the best possible traction to utilise the power from both the KERS system and the engine.
Coming into Parabolica the drivers change down into third gear for this long right-hander that marks the end of the lap. The car tends to slide towards the outside of the corner. There is little aerodynamic grip, so the driver has to work with the throttle and the steering to hold the ideal line. Then it’s back on the power once more and into the start-finish straight again, accelerating up to 330kph in seventh gear.
Pirelli’s P Zero Silver tyre
The Pirelli P Zero Silver tyre, which will be available as a limited edition from Spring 2012, follows on from the Italian firm’s tradition of using the lessons learned in motorsport for the benefit of everyday motorists.
The P Zero Silver tyre is the hard compound tyre in Pirelli’s Formula One range, combining performance with durability, and these are also the values behind the new P Zero Silver for high-performance sports cars on the road. The P Zero Silver will slot in alongside the current P Zero range, consolidating Pirelli’s position as the world leader in the Ultra High Performance sector.
The P Zero Silver shares the same modelling process as Pirelli’s grand prix tyres, using cutting edge mathematical simulation to finalise the design of the tyres under a wide range of road conditions.
The new tyre also shares the same development and production technology for its compound and construction as the Formula One tyres. In particular, the P Zero Silver tyre will be produced using the latest MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotised System) technology at Pirelli’s Settimo Torinese plant: the research centre where all the current Formula One compounds are developed, before being put into production at the Izmit facility in Turkey.
Pirelli in Milan
Pirelli has been based in the northern Italian city of Milan, around half an hour from Monza, since Giovanni Battista Pirelli founded the company in 1872 – but the Italian tyre maker ‘s head office moved to its present site, in the Bicocca district of Milan, in 1907.
The company’s buildings were housed within the ‘Pirelli Citadel’ off Viale Sarca, shaped like an ancient fortress, which can still be seen today. By the end of the 1930s, the factory had reached its peak in size and by 1950 there were more than 12,000 employees. It was a real village, which even had its own railway line to transport products between the warehouses.
New methods of tyre manufacture meant that a cooling tower was needed, as Pirelli built an on-site power station in 1957. An enormous cooling tower emerged, which became a powerful symbol of Pirelli’s industrial presence in Milan, supplying tyres for all of Italy and beyond.
A fire in 1962 destroyed a large proportion of the factory, and with the onset of automation, new factories were opened that were more suited to modern production techniques. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the factory declined, so it was clear that drastic action was needed.
On 26 April 1985, work began on “Project Bicocca”: the old factory buildings were pulled down and a new cutting-edge research and development headquarters was created. A total of 20 architects from countries as far afield as Japan and the USA contributed to the project, once more giving Pirelli a stunning headquarters. In these high-tech surroundings, Pirelli’s Formula One programme was born at the end of last year.
Not all of the old buildings were destroyed though: the iconic 46-metre high cooling tower was incorporated into Pirelli’s main headquarters building and now hosts meeting rooms and offices: a spectacular centrepiece symbolizing Pireli’s past meeting its high-octane present.
For the full history of Pirelli in Milan please visit: http://www.pirelli.com/web/group/history/default.page
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