Formula 1: 2011 Italian Grand Prix – Pirelli Comes Home With P Zero Medium and Soft Tires
What’s the story?
The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is one of the most historic and eagerly anticipated races of the year for Pirelli, located in parkland just half an hour from the Italian firm’s headquarters to the north of Milan. As well as a track that has been integral to Pirelli’s motorsport history, Monza is currently one of the fastest tracks on the calendar with an average speed in the region of 250kph, providing a huge challenge for tyres, drivers and engineers.
Pirelli will bring the P Zero White medium tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres to Monza, which are designed to cope with the demands of Monza’s high-speed layout and provide plenty of scope for the teams to use different tyre strategies.
With the historic circuit having been inaugurated in 1922, this year marks the 82nd Italian Grand Prix and the 61st to be held at Monza.
Pirelli has claimed six victories at home, back in the 1950s, when the circuit was best-known for its high-speed banking, which still stands as a tourist attraction today. The modern track has been extensively modified over the years but it is still hard to find perfect traction under acceleration and braking as the teams run low downforce in order to maximise their top speed on the flat-out straights.
There are also some high kerbs on the chicanes that put huge lateral loads through the tyres, adding to the gruelling workout that the rubber receives over the 53 laps of the race.
Despite this being one of the most demanding tracks of the year, where the contact patch of the tyres on the straight can increase to three times its size when stationary due to downforce, between two and three pit stops are expected for the leading runners as usual.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director says:
Paul Hembery: “Monza is obviously a very important race for us, both from a technical and a company point of view. We’re all looking forward to competing at home, with the championship reaching a crucial point in the season. On a rapid circuit like Monza the tyre strategy is sure to be vital, as it’s going to be hard to make up any time lost in the pits with the cars at full throttle for so much of the time. We expect to see a difference of about a second per lap between the soft and the medium tyre, but we’ll only know for sure once the cars start running in free practice. The versatility of the tyre is going to be a key element, as the rubber will have to cope with a wide range of conditions this weekend. It’s a big challenge as always, but at the same time we’re very much looking forward to being able to showcase the very best of Italian technology and know-how at home in Italy.”
The men behind the steering wheel say:
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari): “Monza is a very special race for every driver: it is the fastest circuit on the World Championship and driving there gives you an extraordinary feeling. It is also very special for emotional reasons, especially if you are a Scuderia Ferrari driver as I experienced for the first time last year. Winning in Monza is incredible: winning there driving a red car is even more incredible. Being on the podium, seeing thousands of fans below you wearing red shirts and waving red flags is simply an overwhelming emotion. Our aim this year is the same as last year: to win the race. We are aware that we have the potential to achieve our objective but we also know that our opponents are very strong. I am sure that we will have a very exciting race, as we have seen many times so far this season already. The return of Pirelli in F1 has brought an increase to the show, which was one of the targets set at the beginning of the year, so we have to thank them for this – and what better occasion than their home race?”
* Monza was one of the testing venues for Pirelli’s build-up to its inaugural season in Formula One.
* At Monza the cars run the lowest downforce of the year in order to eliminate drag. A typical aerodynamic package for Monza will generate about 15% less downforce than is used in Spa, the venue of the last race. This has a profound effect on the tyres, allowing them to slide more.
* Suspension is another area of set-up for Monza that impacts on the tyres. The low downforce means that the cars rely heavily on mechanical grip, so the suspension set-up is designed to ensure the best possible traction under acceleration and braking, while allowing the drivers to attack the chicanes.
* Monza is a race that made history for this year’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel. The German became the youngest ever Grand Prix race winner by nearly a year after winning the 2008 Italian Grand Prix aged 21 years and 73 days. Fernando Alonso is second; winning the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix aged 22 years and 26 days.
Pirelli in Italy:
* Pirelli was founded in 1872 in Milan by 24-year-old Gian Battista Pirelli, who brought the company into motorsport in 1897 when he decided to develop tyres for motorbike racing. Since then, Pirelli has grown to be the fifth-largest tyre maker in the world, employing around 40,000 people in more than 160 countries.
* Italy is where Pirelli first enjoyed sporting success in Formula One. The company wrapped up all the Formula One titles from 1950 to 1954 inclusive, thanks to partnerships with legendary Italian cars and drivers such as Ferrari, Maserati, Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari.
* Pirelli has rolled out some of its most innovative technology at home in Italy, such as the MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotised System) tyre plant and CCM (continuous compound mixing): an advanced system for the production of state-of-the-art tyre compounds.
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(Head of Motorsport and Product Communications)