VALENCIA, Spain (Feb. 16, 2011) — Based on the results of the recent preseason testing at Jerez Circuit near Valencia, tires — in this case, Pirelli's F1 racing tires — will have a huge impact on the 2011 Formula 1 season.
The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)—F1 racing's governing body—asked Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. when it bid for the exclusive tire supply contract last year to provide rubber that will spice up the action by forcing drivers to manage their tires and teams to run clever strategies.
After the three-day testing session at Jerez Circuit, Pirelli has clearly succeeded, with two pit stops expected at most races and possibly three at some venues.
Drivers struggled with tire degradation, particularly on the rear tires, in Valencia's cool conditions. Teams are scheduled to run two more tests in Spain, but a clearer picture of what might happen in races won't emerge until the cars run in hotter weather in Bahrain in early March a week before the season's first Grand Prix on March 13 at the same venue.
Pirelli recently designated its tire choices for the first four races: the hard and soft compounds, based on the track characteristics of the first four venues—in Bahrain, Australia, Malaysia and China—which offer high grip and a wide variety of speeds and corners, as well as ambient and track temperatures that are likely to be high.
“The valuable data that we've collected from both official and private testing has shown us that our nomination of hard and soft tires is the best way forward for both the drivers and the spectators,” Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said, “so we look forward now to a successful Grand Prix debut….
“We've enjoyed great collaboration with the teams so far, and with the nominated compounds for the next four races now known, I am sure that this will help to focus their development for the start of the season.”
Pirelli said its aim is to have two pit stops at every race, helping to increase the spectacle.
Adam Cooper covers Formula 1 for AutoWeek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.