Pirelli introducing two new tires at Brazilian Grand Prix
After 18 races and 3410 miles so far, Pirelli will round off a remarkable season – characterized by the most overtaking in the 61-year history of the Formula One World Championship – at the iconic Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo. It’s a venue that has produced plenty of dramatic races in the past, but now Pirelli is concentrating more on the future, as two new tire compounds making their debut at the race.
During Friday’s two free practice sessions, drivers will have two extra sets of an experimental hard tire, which has already been tested by Lucas di Grassi and Pirelli’s Toyota TF109 car in private tests at Jerez and Barcelona this year. This tire is considerably softer than the current hard. The results will be fed back to Pirelli’s engineers as they prepare for the 2012 season, just as was the case during the free practice sessions in Abu Dhabi, where an experimental soft tire was tried out.
For the race itself the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero White medium tires have been nominated. However, the soft tire that has been nominated is another new compound, which was tested by the teams during the young driver test at Abu Dhabi last week and during Friday free practice at the Nurburgring.
Interlagos is well known for its passionate fans, sweeping elevation changes and anti-clockwise layout. One of the key points of the circuit for both the drivers and the tires is the final sequence of corners from turn 10 onwards, which effectively amounts to one very long left-hand bend – putting plenty of energy through the tires and also the drivers’ necks.
At this time of the year in Brazil, rain showers are a frequent occurrence, which are capable of turning the race on its head. As usual Pirelli will bring the P Zero Orange rain tire and P Zero blue intermediate. Drivers are allowed a total of five sets of intermediates (if it rains on Friday, otherwise four sets) and three sets of rain tires over the weekend under the current regulations.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery says: “Preparations for the 2012 season are well underway, so it will be really interesting to hear the thoughts of the drivers about the new hard and soft tires that we will be trying out in Brazil. We’ve already collected plenty of information on the new soft tire from the young driver test, so it will be useful to compare that to real race data. It’s important not to get too distracted by the names of the tires though: what we’re calling a ‘soft’ for now could end up as a medium for next year, as that’s what the testing process is all about. In general, the tires are going to be less conservative next year as the second half of this season has shown how well the teams have understood our product, allowing us to make some reasonably aggressive choices such as supersoft and soft for Korea. We’re delighted to be ending the season in Brazil: not only is it a legendary circuit with an amazing atmosphere but it is also a key market for Pirelli.”
The men behind the steering wheel say:
Bruno Senna (Lotus Renault): “Interlagos is a very challenging track, as it’s one of the few circuits in the season that runs anti-clockwise, as well as being narrower and bumpier than most tracks we race on nowadays. The rear tires will get a lot of use, mainly due to the many heavy traction zones, big elevation changes, high asphalt temperatures and fairly high surface roughness. We know it will be a difficult weekend for us, as most of the corners are slow in nature and on most circuits with such profile we haven’t been particularly successful, but I believe we can finish the season on a high note and, hopefully score points. There is also, of course, the risk of weather instability, due to the close proximity to a dam, which will make the race that much more exciting.”
A lap of Interlagos is 2.68 mile long and the race is scheduled to last for 71 laps. The track surface is notably bumpy, which makes it hard for the tires to find traction and increases the physical demands on the drivers.
Interlagos is another unfamiliar circuit for Pirelli, with several important factors that will only become apparent in race conditions. However, with a relative absence of high lateral loadings, apart from the final sector, Interlagos is not expected to be too demanding on the tire structure.
The wide variety of high and low speed corners, along with the big elevation changes and high altitude above sea level, mean that it is quite difficult to find the correct aerodynamic set-up and, once more, a good compromise is needed. The last sector of the lap is one of the most important when it comes to the eventual lap time, so this tends to get prioritized in terms of set-up.