Pirelli’s simulation work using data obtained from a visit to the track during its construction means that the Italian firm is well prepared for Formula One’s first race at the Circuit of the Americas, which will be officially opened this weekend.
The Texas circuit will host the United States Grand Prix from November 16-18 this year. Last season, practically every circuit was new to Pirelli but this year there are only two: Hockenheim in Germany and the Circuit of the Americas. Bahrain was also a new experience for Pirelli in competition, but the Italian firm had tested there in the past with plenty of information to fall back on.
Circuit of the Americas in Austin is the most complex new track of the year for Pirelli, as it has never been raced on before. Understanding the nature of a new surface is always complicated, particularly when there is no previous data.
To prepare for the inaugural grand prix, two of Pirelli’s engineers inspected the Circuit of the Americas while it was being built over the summer, looking at the track surface and layout in detail.
They brought with them sophisticated laser measuring equipment in order to assess the abrasiveness of the circuit by examining closely the spacing and shape of the stones that make up the aggregate. Several readings were taken from the machine, in order to ensure an accurate representation. Using these readings a virtual representation of the track from the tyre’s point of view can be created on computer.
Together with some asphalt samples from the new venue, this allowed Pirelli to calculate the likely wear rate and the effect of the asphalt and ambient temperatures on the tyres at different points on the circuit.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “There’s no doubt that preparing for a circuit that is completely new is more difficult than going to one of the established venues. However, we now feel fully ready for this magnificent track, where we will bring the P Zero Silver hard and P Zero White medium tyres. The technology and know-how that we have at our disposal means that we can forecast some very accurate predictions without actually having raced at a circuit these days, thanks to the preparation work from our engineers.”
Circuit of the Americas president Steve Sexton concluded: “The sophisticated technology that Pirelli is known for has allowed them to be a market leader. Their analysis of our brand new track can help provide race strategy predictions that should assist drivers and teams toward achieving success at our circuit. We look forward to their continued work at Circuit of the Americas.”