A stellar debut
In Italian, ‘Stella Bianca’ means ‘white star’. But in the world of tyres, Stella Bianca is synonymous with Pirelli – and specifically, the golden age of motor racing. Back in 1950, when the Formula 1 world championship was new and Giuseppe Farina won the first race – a birthday being celebrated during the second weekend of August at Silverstone’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix – the tyre on his Alfa Romeo was a Pirelli Stella Bianca. There was even a little white star on the sidewall to distinguish it: a motif shared with the road-going tyres that carried the same name.
Like Alfa Romeo itself in those early years, Pirelli tyres were dominant in the first seasons of Formula 1: also winning with Ferrari and Maserati to infuse a deeply Italian flavour into the beginnings of the world’s premier motorsport category. To this day, Alfa Romeo and Pirelli is the only combination to have been around from the very beginning.
But it would only be a passing reign. As the 1950s moved into the 1960s, the German and British car manufacturers began to assert their authority, and Pirelli wouldn’t be seen in Formula 1 again until the 1980s and 1990s, before the current exclusive partnership was launched back in 2011. By then, the Stella Bianca name was long gone. But not forgotten.
Pirelli returned with the iconic P Zero brand to describe the slick F1 tyres, as well as the equally famous Cinturato denoting the wet-weather rubber. Now though – 70 years after it first raced in Formula 1 at Silverstone – the famous Stella Bianca name is back at the ‘home of British motorsport’. Both on the track as well as the road, exemplifying the symbiosis that has always inextricably linked Pirelli’s road-going products to the tyres that it makes for the world’s circuits.
To celebrate 70 years of Formula 1 at Silverstone, Pirelli has recreated the tyre that was on Farina’s Alfa back when the parents of the current Queen of England, watched him win the very first Formula 1 race. This special tyre sits on Borrani wire wheels, similar to the ones that would have been on the F1 cars of the 1950s.
Not only is the Stella Bianca tyre one of the stars of Silverstone, but it’s also still very much present on the road. Two years ago, a road-going version of the iconic Stella Bianca tyre was relaunched: part of the Pirelli Collezione family of vintage tyres, which combine classic looks with modern technology. Pirelli’s Collezione range, which is expanding all the time, now equips a huge variety of classic cars, from post-war legends to modern classics of the 1990s. From Alfa to Porsche, there’s a Collezione tyre for everyone.
An exclusive collection
These are designed for drivers of classic cars to enjoy their vehicles in exactly the same way that the original owners once did, back when they were new. All the Collezione tyres are produced in limited quantities, just as is the case for Pirelli’s motorsport tyres – and in fact, the latest Stella Bianca tyres are made in the same specialised factory as many of the tyres destined for competition use. What makes the Stella Bianca stand out is that it’s currently the only tyre that Pirelli makes using a traditional cross-ply construction, after years of making radial tyres. And some new sizes will be launched later in the year, opening up the Stella Bianca to even more motoring enthusiasts.
Unlike the 1950s, the top Formula 1 stars won’t actually be racing on the Stella Bianca: only admiring it from a distance. But they’ll still be able to appreciate the rich history that helped make their sport into the truly global spectacle that it is today. With Pirelli at the heart of it, right from the very beginning – and for many years into the future.