Pirelli is back in F1 after a 19-year absence: how will the famous Italian marque adapt to the modern Grand Prix world?
By Stuart Sykes.
What’s the link between Turkey and Albert Park this weekend?
The answer is: Pirelli. To cope with the demand for Formula 1 tyres, the new sole supplier has extended its World Rally Championship production plant in Izmit, Turkey, to produce the 50,000 tyres it expects to take to this year’s 19 or 20 F1 events.
“It’s quite poetic that we are starting back in Australia,” said Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembrey at a media briefing in Melbourne on Thursday morning.
“It was in Australia 19 years ago that Pirelli last competed in F1. Now we’re back, we’re ready and we’re raring to go.”
Since doing the deal to return in June last year, Pirelli has undertaken over 100,000 kilometres of track testing, initially in a modified Toyota TF109 before the current teams got down to serious work of their own in Abu Dhabi in late 2010 and then in Spain in February.
Now that Melbourne is hosting the first race of the season, Pirelli has arranged for each driver to have an extra set of tyres available for free practice on Friday as everyone waits to see how race conditions – and the Victorian weather – will affect proceedings.
“We were asked by Bernie (Ecclestone) to make a show,” explained Hembrey, “and we are anticipating that teams will adopt a two- or even a three-stop strategy. But we are keen to see the teams adopting different tactical approaches to bring everyone together late in the race.”
Pirelli’s logistical and service base is at Didcot in the UK, while there is a travelling contingent of 55 Pirelli people to look after the needs of the 12 teams at each Grand Prix.
* Pirelli announced earlier this week that it will be a main partner of the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge when the fund-raising event returns from December 7-11 this year