31,800 reasons Pirelli matters to Formula One

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Pirelli, once again, have done a nice job of making a tire for the 2012 Formula One season that betrays their go-to-market logic of making a product that last long and provides excellent grip. Instead, they’ve managed to make a tire that has good grip in a certain window and degrades rapidly. That’s added a lot to the F1 season since they entered the sport and it could continue if Pirelli gets the nod for 2014 and beyond.

With a contract due to expire at the end of 2013, Pirelli told AUTOSPORT they’d like to have an answer regarding their continuation beyond 2013 sooner than later. They have staff decisions to make and a series of regulatory compliances to start designing for.

“The deadline is June next year, but we would be keen to have a decision earlier than that,” said Hembery.

“If we need to find 300-400 people a different job then we need to know earlier.

“We are starting to talk and finding out what the sport wants. With the cars changing dramatically for 2014 from a tyre manufacturer and producer’s point of view, there is so much changing at once.”

The sport is set to make sweeping changes to its regulations and while Pirelli’s simulation and computer-generated design systems allow for a more rapid time to market for their products, the details could be significant enough to warrant serious design consideration in 2013. Pirelli is working on advanced technologies such as their “cyber tire” and more and this technology could be used in the 2014 season if the FIA work closely with the Italian tire maker assuming they have a firm contract in which to work.

The sport has, without doubt, been impacted by Pirelli. The interesting development toward the later stages of the 2012 season has been the operating temperature window the tires seem to work best at. In the beginning of Pirelli’s involvement in F1, the degradation was the key factor but due to several sharp cookies and a new compound structure for 2012, the teams have focused on finding and maintaining the optimum tire temperatures regardless of tire degradation. This has altered the impact the Pirelli tire has had on the sport and saw the company bring conservative compounds to the final two races of the season.

Intriguingly, McLaren’s Jenson button has struggled most of the year to get heat in his front tires yet the cooler, wet race in Brazil was where he found his strength. He’s always been a good wet weather driver but he told the press that some teams were able to find heat for the front tires in Brazil and others weren’t.

Pirelli tested new 2013 specification tires in Brazil on Friday’s free practice session and it remains to be seen as to whether next year’s compounds will have the same heat cycle nuances or if the tires will lean more to degradation concerns. While both degradation and heat are both key to the tire, the temperatures were the area of focus in the latter part of 2012.

To understand Pirelli’s impact ont eh sport, here are a few statistics for you:

Tyres

Total number of tyres provided for the season: Race tyres: 31,800 of which 22,500 dry tyres and 9,300 wet tyres plus an additional 6,600 for the tests (not including development tyres)
Of which (for race tyres only): supersoft: 6 % / soft: 25 % / medium: 21 % / hard: 17 % / intermediate: 18 % / wet: 11 % / 2 % development tyres
Total numbers of tyres used: Dry tyres: 21,400; wet tyres: 2,100
Number of tyres recycled during 2012: All, i.e. 31,800 race tyres plus 6,600 test tyres
Average life span of a dry compound this season: 180 km
Average life span of a wet compound this season: 140 km

Tracks, Races and Tests

Longest continuous energy input into a tyre: India (turn 10-11)
Longest race of the year: Malaysia in 2hrs 44min 51.812s
Shortest race of the year: Great Britain in 1 hr 25min 11.288s
Most laps run on Pirelli tyres: Hard – Kobayashi (798); Medium – Senna (869); Soft – Ricciardo (1,012); Supersoft – Raikkonen (237); Intermediate – Alonso (145); Wet – Kobayashi (104)
Highest top speed reached by a P Zero F1 tyre: 248.241 kph (Hamilton / Italy Qualifying)
Slowest top speed reached by a P Zero F1 tyre: 161.828 kph (Schumacher / Monaco Qualifying)
Most fastest laps in 2011: Sebastian Vettel (5 in race / 6 in qualifying)
Distance covered by Pirelli’s Renault R30 test car in 2012: 7,012 kms
Number of different test tracks visited by Pirelli staff this year (incl. private tests): 9

Pit stops

Total number of pit stops for the year: 957 (of which 14 were a Drive Through and 2 a stop&go penalty)
Total average number of stops per race: 47.9, i.e. 1.9 per driver
Most pit stops in a race: 76 (Malaysia)
Least pit stops in a race: 24 (United States)
Fastest pit stop time: 2.31s (McLaren / Jenson Button at the German Grand Prix)

Overtaking

Number of overtaking manoeuvres in 2012: 994 (not including Brazil)
Most overtaking manoeuvres in a dry race: 90 at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix
Most overtaking manoeuvres in a wet race: 76 at the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix
Least overtaking manouevres in a dry race: 12 at the Monaco Grand Prix

Other interesting numbers

Total kilometres driven by all the P Zero compounds in 2012 (races and tests): Hard – 101,692; Medium – 121,840; Soft – 123,270; Supersoft – 21,993; Intermediate – 13,770; Wet – 7,930
Coldest track/ground temperatures Pirelli P Zero tyres have run: United States Grand Prix at 11 degrees Celsius (17.11.); coldest overall: Jerez winter testing at 0 degrees Celsius (10.02.)
Hottest track/ground temperatures Pirelli P Zero tyres have run: Brazilian Grand Prix at 55 degrees Celsius (23.11.)
Coldest air/ambient temperatures Pirelli P Zero tyres have run: United States Grand Prix at 4 degrees Celsius (17.11); coldest overall: Jerez winter testing at -2 degrees Celsius (10.11.)
Hottest air/ambient temperatures Pirelli P Zero tyres have run: Grand Prix of Europe at 37 degrees Celsius (21.06.)
Amount of time spent downloading all tyre data on the RTS system this year (incl. tests): 92 hrs
Number of track/air temperature taken by tyre fitter per race weekend: 124
Total distance travelled by all F1 tyres in 2012 (off-track): 216,967 kms
Total number of tweets from Pirelli Media: 5,400
Words written on Pirelli press releases in 2012: 79,744
Total number of Pirelli recipe books produced (incl. translations): 10,000

Pirelli F1 and its people

Total number of Pirelli people travelling to each race: 52
Total number of nationalities within the Pirelli F1 team: 10
Average amount of hours spent by each Pirelli staff member on a plane this year: 192 hrs (or 8 days!)
Number of Pirelli wristbands given out during the season in the paddock: 4,450
Total number of hotel nights booked for the Pirelli team: 1,498

Pirelli’s F1 Trucks & Hospitality

Total amount of trucks at European races: 13
Total average kilometres travelled by each Pirelli truck in 2012: 31,125 kms
Numbers of meals served at the Pirelli F1 hospitality (incl. tests): 24,132
Number of coffees served by Pirelli hospitality during the season: 28,350
Number of different pasta recipes cooked by Pirelli’s chef this year: 314
Amount of mascarpone used for tiramisu and other dolci: 205 kgs

Pirelli in Formula One overall (since 1950)

Races started: 242
Wins: 83
Pole positions: 86
Podium places: 256
Fastest laps: 90

As a fan, how do you feel about the Pirelli tire for 2012 compared to 2011? What would you like to see in 2013? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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