The secrets of making a Pirelli Sports Tyre

If we are talking about Ultra High Performance, we are talking about the P Zero. These are its secrets

Home road cars tyres The secrets of making a Pirelli Sports Tyre

Ultra High Performance tyres are based on a prerequisite which is already evident in their name: ensuring that any car which is fitted with them enjoys the best possible performance. For this reason they cannot escape from one key requirement: to be created on a bespoke basis for each model, in order to bring out the best from the characteristics which are specific to each of them. The Perfect Fit strategy from Pirelli is thus translated into a unique combination of technologies, processes and materials each dedicated to a specific model. This is how the P Zero succeeded in achieving over 1,000 type-approvals and in being selected by the world's most prestigious car manufacturers.

How a sports tyre is made 01
How a sports tyre is made 01


According to common belief, a sports tyre can be recognised by the height of its profile, or expressed more simply, by the height of its sidewall. Once upon a time, perhaps, the equation “sport = lowered” could have been considered to be true, but this is no longer the case today: it is the nature of technological innovations, rather than the external appearance, which determine the sports characteristics of a tyre.

State-of-the-art materials improve their efficiency from several perspectives: for example, the latest P Zero is more resistant and lighter compared with the previous version, thanks to the nylon and aramid hybrid cords in the tyre belts.

Then there are the compounds, which are researched especially for each tyre: the latest-generation P Zero exists in three types of design, one for luxury saloons, one for sports cars and the P Zero Corsa for supercars. Each of these three tyres has its own specific compound, which has to meet differing requirements: the P Zero Corsa is composed of a compound derived from racing, since its task is to revolve at extremely high speeds, and therefore it must be able to withstand very high temperatures.

Tyres for supercars, including road-legal ones, comprise differentiated compounds for different parts of the tread, one slightly softer on the outside for improved cornering, and one which is harder on the inside to achieve perfect reactions down the straights. 

How a sports tyre is made 02
How a sports tyre is made 02


On the subject of treads: here too, the P Zero Corsa and P Zero for GT cars carry a design on the outside consisting of wide blocks in order to provide increased stability during high-speed cornering, whereas the P Zero for sports saloon cars places the emphasis on comfort thanks to its optimised travel sequence.

As they are destined for use on the roads, the P Zero tyres for sports and GT saloons have four longitudinal grooves for the evacuation of water in the event of rain and to prevent the phenomena of aquaplaning, whereas the P Zero Corsa models, which are more focused on performance, only have three, which nevertheless guarantee an optimum level of security on wet surfaces. Indeed, in order to get the best from the performance capabilities of a sports car, the UHP tyre is designed to ensure that the maximum surface possible remains in contact with the tarmac, in order to increase the car's stability and distribute the power in the most efficient way possible.

The markings on the side of the tyre indicate, amongst other things, the maximum speed for which it has been type-approved (speed code), by the use of a letter of the alphabet: the P Zero can display three speed codes, W, Y and (Y) and has achieved type-approval for cars which can reach top speeds of 370 km/h.


From the time of their introduction up to the present day, the tyres belonging to the P Zero family have gone through several revolutionary modifications. At the time of the début of the P Zero tyre, during the 1980s, the parameters required of Pirelli by the car manufacturers numbered just three: a sports tyre needed to satisfy, in equal measures, the requirements of high speed over time during a race, handling in dry conditions and handling in the wet.

Today these parameters are not sufficient, because security and sustainability have been added in their own right to the priority demands required of Pirelli by the car manufacturers. Over time it has also been necessary to take into account other characteristics, which have acquired an ever-increasing degree of importance, such that there are now 12 parameters for the latest generation of the P Zero.

To the initial three have now been added mileage capacity, noise level, comfort, lateral and straight-line aquaplaning, handling consistency, weight, rolling resistance, and braking in the wet. A fine ambition, yet almost a contradiction trying to indulge all these parameters at the same time. But on the other hand we are talking about a sporting legend here, a born competitor.