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April 23, 2014

Pirelli and Bottas: Walking on water

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 tire, 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 tires, 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 tire that is not even meant for the very wettest conditions.  With a tread depth of just 2.5mm, the intermediate tire is capable of evacuating 25 liters of water a second per tire – in total 100 liters – at full speed: as Bottas found out. This allows optimal contact to be maintained between the tire and the track. For full wet conditions, the Cinturato Blue is also available, which evacuates 65 liters of water per second per tire.

This technology is carried through to Pirelli’s road car tires as well: the Cinturato P7 Blue tire 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 tires. As a result, it has reduced wet braking distances by 9% compared to direct rivals. The Cinturato P7 Blue was also the very first tire to be awarded an ‘AA’ score by the new European tire label, which grades all new tires 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, characterized 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 tire 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.”

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