A car – and a tyre – for everyone
There's nowhere quite like the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, which this year featured Pirelli as tyre partner for the first time. Part motor show, part concours, and part stately home garden party, the event – hosted by the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood House – has a unique atmosphere. In recent years it has grown dramatically in size and profile: what started off as a reasonably discreet gathering of historic motorsport fans has now become an unmissable appointment for some of the world's biggest manufacturers, who flock to the event with stands that rival those seen in the most prominent international motor shows. As well as a chance to race a huge variety of cars up the famed hillclimb course, in pursuit of the fastest time of the weekend, Goodwood has also become a venue for global launches in front of key media. Pirelli was no exception, with no fewer than three new tyres presented at Goodwood: the P Zero E, P Zero R, and P Zero Trofeo RS.
Held the weekend after the British Grand Prix, Goodwood now enjoys a similar level of popularity among fans – with something for everyone. Whether you're into American hot rods, classic Formula 1 cars, motorbikes or even cutting-edge tyres, you'll find them all on the Duke's lawn over the course of an unforgettable weekend in West Sussex.
Welcoming automotive aristocracy
Of course, it's not just about the cars and the products. Goodwood provides a brilliant platform to talk about all the wider issues affecting the automotive world today and into the future, with all the key stakeholders who regularly visit. It's In that spirit that Pirelli scheduled a series of ‘tyre talks' hosted by Channel 4 Formula 1 presenter Ariana Bravo on the company's stand: a chance to discuss how the future of the industry is evolving and how tyre manufacturers can contribute to the unique personality of each brand. Joining the panel on Friday were Mark Rushbrook, Global Ford Performance Motor Sports Director; Roberto Fedeli, Chief Technical Officer of Aston Martin; Anders Warming, Director of Design for Rolls Royce; Stefano Varisco, Ferrari's Vehicle Dynamics Manager; and finally Piero Misani, Pirelli's Executive Vice President of Research and Development and Cyber. All brought their unique perspectives to the current state of the industry – which is at a pivotal moment in terms of future mobility – and how tyres fit into that, throughout a fascinating hour-long discussion. While they all had their different points of view, a number of common themes emerged: mainly centred around sustainability, safety, and the increasingly exact requirements of customers for products that are precisely suited to their individual needs and personalities.
Emotion and technology
For Ford in America, the traditional mantra has always been ‘there's no replacement for displacement'. But what's surprising is how “the shift to electrification is actually still relevant to that,” according to Rushbrook. It's just how you produce this ‘displacement' that has obviously changed recently. Rushbrook revealed that he has a trio of Ford Mustangs in his garage, from a classic 1968 model to the latest Mach-E: all very different but with a similar character. Transmitting that same DNA while taking advantage of modern powerplant technology is one of the key challenges facing each carmaker.
Yet as Fedeli points out: “The powertrain is just one component of many. What's important to us is to design a car that's definitely an Aston Martin.” In other words, the same thing: the emotional connection is just as important as the engineering these days.”
There are a number of different ways to do this. Warming revealed how Rolls Royce platforms benefit from “architecture luxury. That is to say, we can design cars with the proportions that clients want to see.” The recently-launched Spectre is a brilliant example; Rolls Royce's first electric car, complete with classic looks that could come from no other manufacturer. And then there's Ferrari: still the sports car icon by which all others are measured, both in terms of brand image as well as dynamics. And that's what makes Varisco's job so important. “We're always looking for exactly the right emotion and performance for a Ferrari,” he explains. Whether that's on the track or on the road: hybrid, or electric, or petrol.
Tyres for a new era
So how do tyres fit in with these clear trends? People in the automotive world – whether they are customers or manufacturers – are increasingly looking for personalisation that sets them apart, but tyres still seem largely similar: black and round. Yet that's exactly where the perception is completely wrong, as Misani pointed out. “Under the skin, each tyre is very different – and that's where Pirelli's ‘perfect fit' philosophy comes in.”
In other words, tyres now are developed strictly in tandem with each vehicle manufacturer to do a specific job on every model, enhancing its unique characteristics and functionality. That role will only increase in future with the development of intelligent ‘cyber' tyres, where the tyre acts as a giant sensor to work in parallel with the vehicle's own onboard systems to enhance safety as well as dynamics.
“If there's one over-arching theme that guides our technical approach, it's safety,” Misani explained. By supplying the only point of the car in direct contact with the road, the tyre manufacturer has a fundamental responsibility – even though the technology involved is often invisible until it's needed. Take ‘RunForward': a new run flat system making its debut on the latest P Zero tyres launched at Goodwood. “Safety it at the heart of it,” concluded Misani. “It allows you to keep going if you're in a bad situation – in a tunnel for example, or in a bad part of town.”
Pirelli's ‘eco-safety design' runs through everything the company does, both now and into the future. Working in parallel with the trends outlined by all the world's leading manufacturers, who were very much in evidence at ‘glorious Goodwood'.