Back to where it all began for Pirelli and the P Zero compounds
The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi is a significant venue for Pirelli’s Formula 1 tire program as it is where the racing teams got to try out the P Zero compounds for the very first time at a test following last year’s grand prix.
That two-day test, along with other sessions carried out by Pirelli in Abu Dhabi, means that the 5.554-kilometer track is the place where Pirelli has the most Formula One experience – having tested a wide range of the P Zero tires there in the past. For the penultimate grand prix of the season, Pirelli will bring the P Zero White medium tire and P Zero Yellow soft tire to Abu Dhabi, which should be well suited to the 21 corners and two straights that make up the lap.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has the peculiarity of a late start at dusk with the finish at night, meaning that track temperatures tend to fall and then stabilize. This usually extends the tire life. There is some degree of track evolution over the course of the weekend, as the sand that sweeps in from the surrounding desert gets cleaned off the surface. Overnight the sand will often settle again, meaning that the track can start off dirty on each day.
The long straight puts plenty of energy through the inside shoulder of the tire, with the sweeping sequence of Turns 2, 3 and 4 at the start of the lap also providing the rubber with a good work-out.
As usual, the teams will have 11 sets of slick tires at their disposal for the race weekend (six sets of medium tires and five sets of soft tires) as well as four sets of intermediate tires and three sets of wet tires. On top of the usual allocation, the teams will be given two extra sets of an experimental soft compound tire for use during free practice on Friday.
Following the grand prix, there will be a three-day young driver test from November 15-17. The teams will have all four slick compounds available to them, and they will be able to choose their tires from a total allocation of 100 sets of tires per team allowed for testing during the year. Pirelli will also try out a limited number of prototype tires during the test in preparation for the 2012 season.
“At this point in the season, our emphasis is obviously on refining our tire choices for next year, which is why we are seeing some new tires during free practice here and the young driver test,” said Pirelli Tire’s Director of Motorsport Paul Hembery. “With very limited opportunities for testing during the season, this is important for us to collect information as we develop our strategy for 2012, which will feature tires that are a bit different from this year’s range. We’re very familiar with the Yas Marina circuit as a testing venue so we’re confident that the tire choice we have made for the race should suit the characteristics of the track. Abu Dhabi is an absolutely fantastic facility with some good overtaking opportunities, so we’re very pleased to be celebrating our first anniversary there.”
Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren Mercedes) added: “I’ve got some fantastic memories of Abu Dhabi from the time I spent testing there with Pirelli before the season started. I learned a lot and, given how the season has progressed, the work was very positive. One of the main reasons for the success of this F1 season is down to Pirelli and the tire design. More pit stops than last year and more tire degradation have made the racing more exciting. Abu Dhabi is a smooth track that is not too hard on the tires – especially the rears – with limited degradation. This means that it can take time to warm up the harder compound and I see the soft tire working well. I can see this being the preferred tire for the race, but the latest cars have a lot more downforce than the car we used for testing and that could change the situation. One thing I have learned this year is that you have to be open-minded and react very quickly during a race to how the tires develop. We saw that in Korea. Everyone thought that the supersoft and the soft would be too aggressive a choice but in the end it was a fantastic choice: we only had two pit stops. I think everybody is going to enjoy racing at Abu Dhabi again: it’s a nice track with two good overtaking opportunities. You have some high-speed corners and also some heavy braking for the chicanes, plus a slower and technically demanding final sector. What’s good as well is that Abu Dhabi is a very safe track with lots of good-quality asphalt run-off. This means that it’s possible to experiment without taking a big risk.”
* Abu Dhabi, like many circuits, requires a medium-downforce compromise set-up in order to guarantee good straight-line speed down the long main straight, which is more than one kilometer, but also enough downforce to provide enough braking stability and aerodynamic grip through the corners.
* There are comparatively few high-speed changes of direction, so in order to help traction – one of the key demands that the tires face on the Yas Marina circuit – the engineers tend to set up their cars with a comparatively soft rear end. At the start of the weekend the dust on the track surface can cause graining, although the P Zero tires have so far proved to be quite resistant to this phenomenon.
* Abu Dhabi is located at sea level, ensuring a high ambient air pressure. This benefits engine power, which increases further as temperatures fall towards the end of the race.
The tire choices so far
|PZero Red||PZero Yellow||PZero White||PZero Silver|
Pirelli in Abu Dhabi
* Pirelli became the very first company to run a Formula One car in wet conditions at night, during a test at Abu Dhabi in January 2011, using a circuit artificially dampened by 140,000 liters of water.
* Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari became the very first driver to sample a Pirelli tire last year at Abu Dhabi, when he was the first driver to emerge from the pit lane at the start of the two-day tire test following the grand prix. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso ended up with the quickest time: 1m40.529s.
* Pirelli’s Middle Eastern office is run out of Dubai. The best-selling tires in the region are the P Zero range, designed for performance and sports cars, and the Scorpion Verde: the world’s first performance SUV tire designed with the environment in mind by helping to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Pirelli Tire North America designs, develops, manufactures and markets tires for passenger vehicles in both the original equipment and replacement markets as well as markets and distributes tires for motorcycles and motorsports. Located in Rome, Georgia, Pirelli’s Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) employs state-of-the-art technology to manufacture tires for both export and domestic markets. For more information please visit www.us.pirelli.com.