Pirelli motorsport season 2015
With three days to go before the first round of motorsport’s premier racing series, Pirelli’s season comes to life with the presentation the 2015 Formula One tires, marking the Italian firm’s fifth consecutive year in the sport. This underlines Pirelli’s strategy of expansion in the world of motorsport, where the company is already the world leader thanks to more than 300 championships in over 40 countries: half of which are in open tire competition.
State-of-the-art performance, frequent overtaking and exciting races with at least two pit stops per car: these are Pirelli’s objectives with its latest range of Formula One tires. On top of that, Pirelli consolidates its relationship with World Superbikes – which are using the Italian rubber for the 11th consecutive year – and grows its presence on the Asian motorsport scene, especially within the most prestigious single-make series including those from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati.
Pirelli’s rally activities are expanding all over the world, as well as tire supply agreements derived from production tires, such as the German GT championship that features sports cars from prestige makes such as Audi and Porsche. Pirelli is pleased to support new championships such as Formula 4 and promote the careers of young drivers through specific initiatives designed to bring up-and-coming talent to the fore.
The venue for Pirelli’s presentation of products for its championships on both two and four wheels is the historic centre of Melbourne: a focus of motorsport for the world and the Asia-Pacific region in particular this weekend with Formula One, as well as hosting the first round of the World Superbike Championship at Philip Island three weeks ago.
Presenting Pirelli’s 2015 innovations are the company’s two sport directors: Paul Hembery for cars and Giorgio Barbier for motorbikes. They oversee departments that create 175 new tire designs per year involving 500 people – including 200 researchers – six worldwide centers for research and development (with two in Italy for compounds and structures, plus one in Brazil), five factories (Turkey, Romania, Germany, Argentina, and Brazil with accompanying research centers) a logistics centre in Great Britain, and a total production per year of 570,000 tires. These tires are all recycled to the highest standards of sustainability at the end of every race, and if they were all piled up on top each other, they would reach a height of 180 kilometers. If lined up alongside each other, they would stretch for approximately 400 kilometers.
WHAT’S NEW IN FORMULA ONE THIS YEAR: The tires have all been evolved from 2014 to meet the requirements of the latest cars. The 2015 cars could be up to two seconds per lap faster than previously, with the latest-specification hybrid power units delivering higher average speeds. There’s a new rear construction for the entire P Zero range, designed to distribute heat and forces more evenly, leading to more consistent performance. One of the key evolutions on all the tires this year has been optimization of the footprint pressure and temperature distribution. This presents a more even contact with the asphalt, improving grip and handling. An all-new supersoft compound introduced for 2015 is designed to guard against blistering and graining. This development work that has been taking place throughout the off-season underlines once more Pirelli’s continual evolution and philosophy of improvement, as demonstrated since the company entered Formula One back in 2011.
PIRELLI ON TWO WHEELS: The Italian tire company will once again be official exclusive tire supplier for all classes of the FIM Superbike World Championship this year, in an agreement that runs to 2018. This partnership started in 2004, making it the most enduring tire supply in the history of international motorsport. Pirelli also has a firm commitment to the FIM Motocross World Championship, having already achieved 62 world titles, as well as the FIM Endurance World Championship, which consists of four rounds this year. Pirelli is official motorcycle tire sponsor of AMA Supercross – an FIM World Championship (for 2014-2016) – as well as being the tire supplier to different riders. Pirelli is prominent in many other control and open tire national championships, including the BSB (British Superbike Championship), CIV (Italian National Championship), IDM (German National Championship) and FSBK (French Superbike Championship). In the Asia Pacific region, as well as being exclusive official supplier of the Superbike series in Malaysia and the Philippines, Pirelli will be title sponsor of the Malaysian round of the Superbike World Championship. For the first time the championship will also go to Thailand this year, where Pirelli will also race in the FIM Motocross World Championship. The Pirelli Cup 600 Challenge Series has been launched in Japan to promote the growth of young talent in the country. This year Pirelli will also open its fourth factory for the production of motorcycle tires, in Indonesia.
PIRELLI’S REACH: INCREASINGLY GLOBAL: Pirelli’s policy of expansion in the Asia-Pacific region is set to continue, reinforcing technology transfer between the racetrack and the road as a key objective. Pirelli is additionally involved in a vast number of other motorsport series within the Asia-Pacific territory, which are as diverse as the Ferrari Challenge (which takes in seven rounds from Sepang to Abu Dhabi), Lamborghini Trofeo, Australian GT Championship and Chinese Rally Championship. On the business side Pirelli expects an average annual growth in the Asia-Pacific region of around 16% in the next couple of years, making it the Italian tire firm’s fastest-growing market worldwide. In particular, there is a growing demand for premium products, thanks to burgeoning car sales within China in particular. This upsurge demonstrates Pirelli’s increasing globalization, with Formula One – which is the only truly worldwide championship in existence – providing a perfect shop window for Pirelli’s technology and know-how.
PUTTING THE ACCENT ON YOUTH: A priority for Pirelli has always been promotion of young talent, seen in the past through the Pirelli Star Driver scheme and WRC Academy, and now in its continued support of the GP2 and GP3 championships, which go from strength to strength in 2015. This year, these important feeder championships are joined by Formula 4: designed to bridge the gap between karting and more advanced single-seater categories. Pirelli has supported this new championship from its inception, which currently runs in several countries all over the world with different engine, chassis and tire manufacturers.
NEWS FROM GERMANY: In Germany, Pirelli takes over as exclusive supplier of the German GT championship this year, which is based on race-prepared equivalents of the prestige and supercars that Pirelli supplies with original equipment for the road. Once more, this latest initiative reinforces the vital link between competition and the everyday road user: a hallmark of all Pirelli products. The German GT championship is an important breeding ground for endurance champions of the future, as well as a key market for the automotive industry as a whole. Pirelli naturally continues its relationship with the Blancpain GT series, which has proved to be extremely successful, featuring classic events such as the Spa 24 Hours.
PRESENCE CONSOLIDATED IN AMERICA: In the Americas – which hosts four rounds of the Formula One world championship this year – Pirelli is once again reinforcing its presence. This territory is the biggest global market for Pirelli, with two of its most significant motorsport championships being the Pirelli World Challenge (for a wide variety of competition cars ranging from MINIs to Porsches, on the most prestigious circuits in America) and the Brazilian stock car championship, contested by legends of the sport such as Rubens Barrichello, who won the title last year.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery, launching the company’s latest motorsport programs in Melbourne, said: “It’s a real privilege for us to get the Formula One season underway here, and present our plans for the season ahead in such a vital territory for Pirelli. The Asia-Pacific region is really where Pirelli’s motorsport history originally started, thanks to victory in the 1907 Peking to Paris road race, and this year we actually celebrate 90 years since Pirelli won its first grand prix championship in 1925. While tire technology has changed unrecognizably since then, competition remains firmly coded into our DNA, as the foremost means of developing innovations that will one day be seen on the road, benefitting road safety as well as pure performance. This season, we’re looking forward to understanding how exactly the teams have evolved their cars, as this changes the interaction between the tire and the circuit, and we have a new race in Mexico: another country where we have a factory and a strong presence. We are also expanding our global activities outside Formula One, consolidating Pirelli’s reputation as the tire manufacturer most heavily involved in motorsport throughout the world. Pre-season Formula One testing in Spain showed that the performance of our latest tires is in line with what we expected, with the improvements that we have made delivering the results we intended with this latest generation of cars up to now.”
Pirelli Moto racing activities director Giorgio Barbier added: “Collaboration and a constructive approach towards developers, manufacturers, teams and riders have always been the ingredients of our success. The work we do in the top championship for production-based bikes, as well as in all the series in which we participate, is fundamental for the development of our racing tires, which are the same as those sold to customers. With increasing motorbike sales in the region, Asia-Pacific, is becoming a very interesting market for us, where we will invest even more over the next few years.”