During qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, Williams driver Valtteri Bottas reached 316kph – that’s nearly 200mph – on the back straight of the Shanghai circuit: the longest on the Formula One calendar this year.
He did this using the Cinturato Green intermediate tyre, in conditions so wet that visibility was minimal because of the spray coming from the surrounding cars. As usual, he was on wide Formula One tyres, which makes the avoidance of aquaplaning a real challenge, unlike road cars.
And yet Bottas, at only the start of his second season in Formula One, achieved this feat using a Pirelli tyre that is not even meant for the very wettest conditions. With a tread depth of just 2.5mm, the intermediate tyre is capable of evacuating 25 litres of water a second per tyre – in total 100 litres – at full speed: as Bottas found out. This allows optimal contact to be maintained between the tyre and the track. For full wet conditions, the Cinturato Blue is also available, which evacuates 65 litres of water per second per tyre.
This technology is carried through to Pirelli’s road car tyres as well: the Cinturato P7 Blue tyre for the road, specifically targeting wet weather performance, was specifically created using the lessons learned from the extreme wet weather performance of the Cinturato Formula One tyres.
As a result, it has reduced wet braking distances by 9% compared to direct rivals. The Cinturato P7 Blue was also the very first tyre to be awarded an ‘AA’ score by the new European tyre label, which grades all new tyres on performance.
The new Formula One regulations this year, with reduced downforce, mean that the cars have less drag and are able to reach higher top speeds. As a result, on some of the fastest circuits this season, characterised by extensive straights such as Monza, this year’s cars may break the lap record – and also look set to hit the record for the fastest top speeds on the straights.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Seeing Bottas achieve those sorts of speeds, in the wet in China, was one of those moments that gave you goosebumps: which is what Formula One is meant to be all about. The Cinturato Green intermediate is in fact the only tyre in our range that is completely unaltered compared to 2013, but it was still able to provide complete control even under extremely marginal conditions. This performance underlines the sheer bravery and talent of today’s Formula One drivers – which is what everyone wants to see.”