ABU DHABI – Pirelli, the official tire supplier to Formula One for the next three years, will get the 2011 season underway in the United Arab Emirates this week with an unprecedented test. Never before in single-seater history has a test been organized at night and on an artificially wet track to recreate the conditions experienced in a typical rainy grand prix.

The Abu Dhabi test will take place a few weeks before the Valencia test, the first official group session of the 2011 season. The Yas Marina Circuit is one of the most fascinating venues on the Formula One calendar, a perfect setting for this extraordinary event that end the development phase for Pirelli’s Formula One tires. For the first time in the history of Formula One, the 5.55-kilometer Yas Marina track will be coated in water to create a unique 12-hour night test.

Abu Dhabi testing wets and intermediates

This is the last round of private tests for Pirelli, with the wet and intermediate tires solely in use. Today’s session will start at 1800hrs and continue until midnight, with the same schedule for tomorrow. Within the range of 2011 compounds, these rain tires have been specifically designed for wet or damp conditions. In line with current FIA regulations, Pirelli dry tires comprise four different compounds that have already been successfully tested.

Test driver Pedro de la Rosa will be at the wheel of Pirelli’s F1 tire test car – a Toyota TF109. The TF109 was the last car to be developed by the Japanese manufacturer before it withdrew from the championship at the end of 2009, winning five podiums over its last season of competition. The test car will cover more than 1,000 km in extreme driving conditions with the rubber having to deal with severe stresses on a tricky wet and hot tarmac.

“This is a unique opportunity to witness a Formula One test car on track at night in the wet and on hot tarmac, in an entirely floodlit setting,” said Paul Hembery, Pirelli Formula One Team Director. “We decided to do it this way because we want to challenge our rain tires with the most difficult and demanding of all situations. And who knows, perhaps it could be a good idea for a future grand prix? These tests will provide us with useful information to finalize our tire development process for Formula One. It is seven months since we started developing our tires and five since we started with the actual testing.
We are very satisfied with the results so far and we have also collected very positive feedback from the teams. Soon it will be time to get started in Spain where the first official test of the season will take place. We will use this opportunity to gather more feedback from teams and drivers and be ready for the Bahrain Grand Prix in March.”

The two-day Abu Dhabi test is the last in a series of nine private tests that the Italian firm has carried out from August 19, when Pirelli’s test program got underway. Since then, Nick Heidfeld, Roman Grosjean and Pedro de la Rosa, all at the wheel of a Toyota TF109, have covered more than 13,000 km in a variety of weather conditions at some important European and Middle East circuits.

Pirelli has used Mugello, Monza, Barcelona, Valencia, Jerez, Le Castellet and Bahrain to test its entire range of tires developed for the 2011 season.

Supersoft and soft compound tires were the last to be finalized and were successfully tested in Abu Dhabi last weekend, with Pedro de la Rosa driving for around 200 laps, the equivalent of some 1,000 km.

Coming up next is the official test in Valencia from February 1-4. The 12 Formula One teams will then move to Jerez, from February 10-13, and end the testing in Barcelona, from February 18-21. The 2011 Formula One season will begin at the Bahrain Gran Prix on March 13.

Pirelli’s commitment to Formula One

Pirelli’s Formula One tires have been developed as a stable and consistent product, able to ensure closely-fought and spectacular race weekends. They have already passed their first test with full marks, receiving excellent feedback during last year’s official tests in Abu Dhabi in mid-November.

Fifteen drivers, including Vettel, Alonso, Massa, Schumacher and Barrichello, tested Pirelli’s newly developed tires, with each team covering roughly 11,000 km, equivalent to 150 laps. Some very interesting data was gained during testing and was then used to improve the rubber and adjust it accordingly. Further developments were brought forward both at Pirelli’s laboratories and on track, in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, from January 15 onwards.

In line with FIA regulations, Pirelli will provide Formula One teams with four compounds of slick tires for use on dry tracks. Compound range goes from supersoft, soft, medium to hard, with the best solution to be raced chosen according to the track’s features and the team’s strategy. If the softer compound is well suited for tight and twisty circuits, the harder one is a good option for tracks where longer durability is needed. Otherwise, it will be the turn of the soft or of the medium compound, with the first being faster and the second one more resistant.

In addition to dry tires, Pirelli will supply one type of wet tire for use on a full wet track, along with one intermediate tire for use in damp or even variable and unpredictable weather conditions. Thanks to their grooved tread pattern, these rain tires can easily deal with rain from light to heavy, ensuring both stability and grip.

Pirelli will supply a total of 50,000 tires to Formula One for this season. These competition tires will be produced in Turkey at the ‘sport zone’ of Pirelli’s Izmit factory, one of the most modern of its kind thanks to its cutting-edge technology and advanced machinery.

Pirelli’s Formula One Team

In Abu Dhabi, Pirelli’s Formula One Team will be made up of 15 highly qualified technicians. From 15 it will go up to 50 during official tests and grands prix, with a Pirelli engineer dedicated to each team along with the remaining staff.

The Pirelli Formula One Team will be based in Milan at the Pirelli Tire Research and Development Centre, a facility at the heart of the Pirelli Group’s tire technology capability, which employs 1000 researchers based in five centers all over the world.

The leading Italian company has been involved in motorsport competitions for more than a century, with the epic Paris to Peking road race its first win in 1907. Pirelli is currently the sole supplier to several international championships, such as the GP2 and GP3 Series and the World Superbike Championship. In addition, Pirelli also supports over 70 national and international championships, including the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, having been the exclusive tire supplier to the World Rally Championship from 2008 to 2010.

The last time Pirelli claimed victory in Formula One was at the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix with the Benetton team. It then bowed out at the end of that season, with the Australian Grand Prix its final race.

Formula One and Environmental Sustainability

In line with Pirelli Group’s Green Performance strategy – aimed at developing products and solutions that combine maximum performance with respect for the environment – Formula One tire production, as well as logistics and recycling procedures, are fully compliant with high environmental sustainability standards. Specifically, all Pirelli competition tires, including P Zero tires to be used in Formula One, are free of aromatic oils (HAOF – or, Highly Aromatic Oil-Free). Industrial processes at the Izmit factory are state-of-art in terms of energy and water efficiency, with very low polluting emission levels. Pirelli invests extensively in tire recycling procedures. This applies also to Formula One covers that will be used to generate new rubber and for energy production purposes. According to Dow Jones Sustainability STOXX and Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, the Italian firm leads in Autoparts and Tires for a fourth consecutive year. This underlines Pirelli’s strong commitment to environmental sustainability.

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; photographs and videos are available from: