Category Archives: Pirelli Tyres

Formula One German Grand Prix 2012 – Hockenheim – Preview and Selected Quotes

Hockenheim will this weekend host the German Grand Prix, marking the halfway point in the 2012 Formula One season. Following on from an eventful British Grand Prix at Silverstone two weeks ago, we should see further upgrades from the main protagonists, and there will be more than enough for fans to be watching out for.

As is usual at most Grands Prix, all eyes will be on the home contingent to perform. With no less than five German drivers lining up this weekend, local fans will be spoiled for choice. But at this crucial stage of the season, there are several other factors to consider.

Recently there has been speculation regarding the security of Felipe Massa’s seat at Ferrari. Shortly after the British Grand Prix, Mark Webber revealed he had held discussions with the Maranello outfit before confirming he would remain with Red Bull for 2013. Massa will need to continue his, albeit slight, recent improvement in form if he is to continue at Ferrari going forward.

Reigning Champion Sebastian Vettel will arrive at his home Grand Prix having not won since Bahrain in April. Despite him having broken numerous records, perhaps the most elusive for Vettel; who only lives thirty minutes from the circuit, he has yet to win his home Grand Prix. “I haven’t won the German Grand Prix before and of course, I would like to!”

Celebrating a milestone of his own this weekend is McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Going into his 100th Grand Prix, he will be looking for an improvement on his last two races, which have seen him not finish at Valencia and unable improve on a poor qualifying performance at Silverstone.

“Unbelievably, next weekend will mark my 100th grand prix. That’s incredible, because I still remember my first as if it were only yesterday – I guess Formula 1 has that effect on you!”.

With so-called “silly season” in full swing, Hamilton is himself subject of speculation regarding his future with McLaren. It is widely expected he will announce his intentions during the mid-season break, following the Hungary race at the end of July.

Teammate Jenson Button meanwhile, is sensing the importance of a strong team performance ahead of the upcoming back-to-back races. “The final back-to-back before we head into the summer break will be important for the whole team: coming off the back of a couple of disappointing weekends, it’s important that we capitalise on the opportunities available in Germany and Hungary.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Team Principal, is also looking forward to the two races leading up to the mid-season break, keen to move on from recent disappointments: “There is a huge resolve within the operation to ensure that our aggressive development strategy is upheld across the summer: we are determined to narrow the gap to the championship leaders before the start of the summer break.”

In a somewhat confusing statement, Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn said: “The German Grand Prix will be our second home race in two weeks following the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend, and we are looking forward to racing in front of our home fans and Mercedes-Benz colleagues once again.”

With a 40% chance of showers forecast for both Practice sessions on Friday and a 60% chance of showers for Qualifying on Saturday (depending on which sources you believe), tyres are bound to have a huge impact on proceedings this weekend.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director, is hoping to bring an experimental compound for teams to evaluate this weekend: “the weather in Germany at this time of year can be almost as unpredictable as it is in England: when we were at Hockenheim for the GP3 Series two years ago we saw plenty of rain, although it’s been very hot in the past too. The new hard tyre is not a big evolution, but it has a slightly wider working range, which should make it easier for the teams to get the tyres up to temperature and maintain them in the correct operating window.”

Additionally, this will be Pirelli’s first outing as tyre supplier at Hockenheim, but he doesn’t seem fazed by the prospect: “Coming to a circuit that is new to us always holds a different challenge, as we don’t have any of our own previous data to compare it with. But the progress that has been made with simulation is incredible: these days you can learn so much about how a tyre will behave on a circuit without even going there.”

The result of this weekend’s outing at Hockenheim could prove to be influential on the overall season. Going into this weekend, the top four in the Driver’s standings seem to hold the answer as to who will be crowned Driver’s Champion, barring any unusual developments. To that end, Lewis Hamilton will need a good result in both Germany and Hungary in order to maintain contact with current leader Fernando Alonso.

Who do you think will win the German Grand Prix? Vote here:

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2011 Australian Grand Prix – Race

The curtain-opener to the 2011 Formula One World Championship finally got underway early this morning. The testing, speculation and hype was put to one side as the Class of 2011 went head to head in Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel dominated the race throughout, and took the win from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, the surprise package of the day being Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, who commendably finished in third place.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day though was Christian Horner’s revelation that neither of the Red Bull’s had been running KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) for the entire weekend. “We felt Kers was a potential risk, and we made a decision not to run it. It didn’t look like we needed it.” And he was right, Vettel had built a lead of 2.6 seconds over Hamilton by the end of the first lap, and Hamilton WAS running KERS.

Hamilton was able to match Vettel’s pace for a period however, the McLaren driver was also better on his tyres than Vettel, who was heard on the radio to be complaining of a loss of grip on several occasions. Both drivers ran two-stop strategies in a race where the hype was that as many as four stops could be expected from the front-runners.

Lotus-Renault’s Vitaly Petrov had an astounding start to the race, he was the beneficiary of Jenson Button in the other McLaren hanging out Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into turn one at the start of the lap. Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber, driving in his home Grand Prix, had managed to maintain third off the grid, but he was first to blink and change tyres, Petrov then moved into third and maintained that to the finish.

“I’m very happy to be alongside Sebastian and Lewis on the podium, but from first practice the car has looked very strong, we focused on the race, and the team did everything perfectly,” said Petrov.

With the race developing, Jenson Button was having a battle of his very own with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. He was heard over the radio asking “How’s he getting away from me?”, despite Button using the new DRS (Drag Reduction System). But the nightmares did not end there, in trying to pass Massa, Button had used a run-off area and was adjudged to have gained an advantage, a move that was penalised by a drive-through penalty.

After emerging from the pit-lane in twelfth, Button drove well and managed to bring his MP4-26 home in sixth. The McLaren team will be happy that the hard work they had put in back at the MTC in Woking has paid off. It was abundantly clear that the MP4-26 was not all that had been expected of it, testing showed it was way off the pace, but the updates they bought to Melbourne, a new floor and exhaust system, seemed to have done the trick.

There were losers in the race too. Michael Schumacher suffered a puncture at the start, and was eventually retired from the race as a precaution. His teammate Nico Rosberg had a coming together with Rubens Barrichello, for which Barrichello was punished with a drive through penalty. Unfortunately for Rosberg, it proved fatal and neither Mercedes finished. For me, Barrichello had a terrible weekend, spinning out of control during Qualifying, and driving terribly during the race, to me, someone who has driven in 307 Grands Prix, should know better.

Sauber were the other talking point of the day. Having only made one stop throughout the race, Sergio Perez managed to raise a few eyebrows. However, it was shortlived. Scrutineering highlighted some technical infringements with both Sauber cars, unfortunately they were stripped of seventh and eighth places, which promoted Felipe Massa into seventh, Adrian Sutil in to eighth, Sebastian Buemi into ninth and debutant Paul di Resta into tenth and a final points paying position.

With Perez and Kobayashi disqualified, Timo Glock not classified, Barichello, Rossberg, Kovalainen, Schumacher and Maldonado made up the long list of retirees from todays race. Next stop Sepang in Malaysia.

2011 Tyre Changes in Formula One

With the 2011 Formula One season looming on the horizon, I thought it a good idea to write about the changes in Regulation, the first of which will look at Pirelli’s announcement regarding its tyre compounds.

The beginning of the 2011 season sees the transition in sole tyre supply from the Japanese Bridgestone, who decided to move away from Formula One after 14 years at the end of 2010, to the Italian manufacturer Pirelli, with their P-Zero tyres. Pirelli have a pedigree within Formula One, and have served as tyre suppliers to the sport in 1950-58, 1981-86, and again in 1989-91.

Much speculation has been bandied around in the press of late with regard to the durability of the new tyres; whether or not, when negotiating the contract, Herr Ecclestone had insisted that Pirelli manufacture the tyres in such a way that the two different ‘Dry’ compounds were as far apart in terms of performance and durability as was possible.

Little ‘concrete’ information can be taken from the recent rounds of testing, but one thing is becoming increasingly apparent, that there is likely to be  more pitstops this season. Does that make for a more exciting season? We shall have to wait and see.

In a move to distinguish the type of tyre being used to the viewing public, Pirelli have announced they will be using different coloured logos on each of the compounds walls.  For Dry weather tyres, the logo on the Hard Tyre will be silver, the Medium compound will be white, Soft compounds will carry yellow logos, and the Super-Soft will be red. The Wet tyres meanwhile will carry orange logos on the Full Wet, the Intermediate tyres will cary light blue logos.

Announcing the initiative, Pirelli’s Motorport Director Paul Hembrey said: “These will enable both live and television audiences to tell at a glance who is on what compounds, which will be vital knowledge as tyres are set to form a key part of race strategy this year.”

This may well be the case. The standard during the 2011 season was a one-stop strategy, however teams are estimating that this will increase to at least three stops this season, so those drivers and or cars that can look after their tyres better, look to be at a distinct advantage, even without a wheel yet being turned in anger.

Changes to the 2011 rules (more of which to come later in a later post), mean tyre allocation has been reduced from 14 sets of dry weather tyres per driver, per race weekend, to just 11.  Drivers will be allocated three sets (two prime, one option) to use in P1 and P2, a set of which much be returned at the end of each session. Eight further sets will be available to each driver for the remainder of the weekend.

To make things further complicated, the FIA have decreed that there must be a two-compound gap between the available types of dry weather tyre at each race, which basically means that there is no chance that the white and silver coloured logos will confuse viewers, as the hard and medium tyres will never be used in the same weekend.

Again, following on from recent times, each driver must use both types of dry weather tyre during a race, and where a race is declared as wet, they will have a free choice.

Pirelli have already allocated the compounds that will be taken to the first three races of the season; so Australia, Malaysia and China will see the hard and soft compounds, the hard designated as ‘Prime’ and the soft the ‘Option’ tyre.