Pirelli begin tyre testing for new F1 season
After Bridgestone announced it was to withdraw as the sport’s sole tyre supplier in November 2009, several tyre manufacturers entered the fray. It was recently confirmed that Pirelli were to be the sole F1 tyre supplier for the 2011 season and they are now set to begin tyre testing at Mugello, in preparation for the new season.
Tyre Testing, Research, and Development
As many motorsport fans know, heavy tyre research and development is undertaken to ensure optimum tyres for racing cars. Tyres are crucial for many reasons; they are the only part that touches the floor, gripping the road, and have to be safe as even the slightest contact can cause tyre punctures. They will have to withstand heavy stress and tyre wear, at incredibly high speeds, especially in Formula One – said to be the pinnacle of motorsport where tyre degradation can sometimes be quite high.
Pirelli, the Italian manufacturer, have managed to obtain a 2009-specification Toyota TF109 for its test programme – apparently never to have been raced but used during pre-season testing in 2009. The partnership with Toyota comes after they pulled out of Formula 1 but are providing the operational elements of the test programme – they will also be collecting and analysing the data before passing it over to Pirelli who will lead the tyre development.
Why Toyota? In such a competitive environment it was important to obtain machinery close to the current specifications whilst not benefitting any current or future teams as they would have access to the test data, giving them a head start. In another twist, they have recruited the current Mercedes test driver, and former BMW Sauber driver, Nick Heidfeld, to be the Pirelli test driver.
“We can confirm that the team is pleased to allow Nick Heidfeld the opportunity to join Pirelli and contribute to their development work for the company’s imminent return to Formula 1,” said Mercedes GP boss Ross Brawn.
Pirelli Tyre Testing
The Toyota deal will continue with further tests but the first test will be a three day stint at the Mugello race track, in the manufacturers home country, with two days set for tyre testing. Further tests are reported to be at Jerez, Monza, and the Paul Ricard circuit.
As Pirelli will be providing Formula 1 teams with the rubber tyres they need for the next three years, they will be hoping the tests help them to make a fast, efficient, and safe set of tyres whilst in compliance with the F1 sporting and technical regulations.