Formula 1: 2011 Turkish Grand Prix
Pirelli to test new evolution of hard tyre at ‘home’ Grand Prix
What’s the story?
The recent Chinese Grand Prix provided the best racing seen for years, according to many observers. Pirelli now heads for Turkey: its second ‘home’ grand prix, as all 50,000 of this year’s Formula One tyres are made at a dedicate facility in Izmit, around half an hour’s drive from the Istanbul Park circuit.
While technically located in Asia to the east of the Bosporus, the Turkish Grand Prix marks the start of the European Formula One season with several teams introducing important upgrades. Pirelli too will bring a new evolution of the hard compound tyres for all the teams to try out during Friday’s two free practice sessions only, as was the case in Malaysia. The allocation for the rest of the weekend is unaffected, with the hard and the soft compound tyres nominated once more for Turkey: the compounds that were also used for the first three thrilling races of the year.
Inaugurated in 2005, the 5.338-kilometre Istanbul Park track is well known as one of the most challenging circuits of the year. The track’s most famous corner is Turn Eight: a complex high-speed left-hander with multiple apexes, testing the tyres to the maximum.
From Istanbul onwards, Pirelli’s new PZero will carry new and more prominent colour markings on the sidewalls. Turkey also marks the opening round of the GP2 and GP3 championships, which will also be exclusively supplied by Pirelli for the next three years.
Pirelli’s Research and Development Director says:
Maurizio Boiocchi: “We’re looking forward to seeing our new evolution of the hard compound tyre on track in Turkey on Friday. At Pirelli, we don’t believe in standing still so, in collaboration with the teams, we’re always working on new evolutions of the tyres that we hope will benefit the sport throughout the year. If we see the results that we expect from this life-sized test of the new tyre, our aim will be to use it at the next race in Barcelona. This tyre will provide less degradation and so we expect it to last longer, but the warm-up time will also be a little longer and there will be less grip.”
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director says:
Paul Hembery: “Turkey is one of the most important events of the year for us, as we have had our production facility at Izmit for more than 50 years now. As well as hosting some very important guests this weekend, we’re also looking forward to what should be a spectacular race on a stunning circuit. Istanbul Park should provide the tyres with one of their toughest tests of the year, because of the high-speed corners, abrasive and bumpy surfaces, and huge forces that act on the cars. The fearsome reputation of Turn Eight is in every way justified, and this should contribute to relatively high levels of tyre wear. I expect us to see three pit stops per car, but of course it will depend on the individual strategies that the teams choose to adopt, which have become an important feature of the races so far. While temperatures in Turkey are normally warm, the initial forecasts that we have received suggest slightly cooler conditions than usual, so I think we’re all in for another very intriguing and exciting weekend.”
The men behind the steering wheel say:
Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber): “We’ve had no problems with tyre management so far with the Sauber C30-Ferrari: in fact we have been quite good in getting the new P Zero Pirelli tyres to last for a long time. Nevertheless I find it quite difficult to predict how the situation in Istanbul Park will develop. The grip level at this circuit normally is very low which means the cars tend to slide a lot. I believe it will be crucial to save the front tyres in particular as much as possible. The corner I like most, which is at the same time the one that is most challenging for the tyres, is the triple left hander: Turn Eight.”
Technical notes and tyre choices so far:
* Istanbul Park is one of the few circuits on the Formula One calendar that runs anti-clockwise. The race takes place over 58 laps, totaling 309.396 kilometres.
* Ferrari driver Felipe Massa is the most successful driver at the Turkish Grand Prix, claiming three wins and pole positions over the five years that the Istanbul Park race has been held. Istanbul also holds good memories for Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, who set his first fastest lap at the race last year.
* The highest number of pit stops at the Turkish Grand Prix took place during the inaugural race in 2005. There were 48 stops in total: an average of 2.4 per driver.
The Izmit factory:
Izmit’s Formula One department, which uses state of the art technology and employs 200 people who specialise in the production of competition tyres, makes the tyres in two phases. The first phase is development: the production of prototypes based on mathematical models developed at the Milan Research and Development Centre. The second phase is production, which involves five stages, 100 different materials and 18 basic components.
A complex validation process follows. Each tyre is submitted to a shearographic scan (like an x-ray) to check the interior integrity and a radiological scan to confirm the external structure. The circumference is also measured to verify the uniformity of the overall diameter. Finally, each tyre is given a bar code, which identifies the tyre from production to race track.
The Izmit technology hub:
The Izmit hub has housed production of motorsport tyres since 2007. From last year it became the centre for Pirelli’s Formula One activities, in combination with the Milan Research and Development Centre.
With the launch of the Formula One division, Pirelli has increased production of all motorsport tyres. In 2011, the company will make a total of 200,000 competition tyres, of which 50,000 will be for F1 and 70,000 will be for GP2 and GP3, for which Pirelli is also the sole supplier. The remainder is destined for the other 60 international race and rally championships for which Pirelli is sole supplier, as well as other single make series like the Ferrari Challenge, the Lamborghini Super Trophy and the Maserati Trophy. In total, the entire Pirelli motorsport range consists of 200 types of racing tyres, including rally tyres.
Pirelli in Turkey:
As well as competition tyres, the Izmit factory inaugurated in 1960 produces car and industrial tyres. Production serves Turkey, the main European markets (including Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Austria and the UK) and the Middle East. The numerous carmakers supplied include Mercedes, Jaguar, Fiat and Renault. The Izmit facility, which has also produced steel cord for 25 years, covers 340,000 square metres and employs approximately 1,900 people.
With an annual production of eight million tyres (including motorsport, car and truck) it is Pirelli biggest factory in terms of output.
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(Head of Product and Motorsport Communications)