2011 British Grand Prix
Pirelli confirms initial tyre compound choice
What’s the story?
Just like Pirelli’s home race in Monza, Silverstone is one of the iconic circuits on this year’s grand prix calendar, famed for its long straights and fast corners. This year, the British track has a slightly new look to it, with several parts of the circuit re-surfaced and a brand new pit and paddock complex, following on from the major modifications that were made to the layout last year. The fundamental characteristics of Silverstone remain unaltered though, with a fast and flowing lap that tends to rely on aerodynamic more than mechanical grip.
Pirelli has nominated the PZero Silver hard tyre as the prime and PZero Yellow soft tyre as the option: the most commonly-used combination this year, which has led to some thrilling races over the eight rounds held so far (the opening five of which used the hard-soft nomination). With eight of the 12 Formula One teams having their base in England, it is a race with plenty of national pride at stake: for Pirelli as well, which has its Formula One logistics and distribution centre at Didcot, about half an hour from Silverstone.
Having been first held in 1948, the most recent work on the British track now means that its length has been extended to 5.891 kilometres, making it the longest lap of the season to date and the second-longest lap of the year, second only to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Together with the sustained high speeds and notoriously unpredictable British weather, this makes the 52-lap race, where three to four pit stops are a possibility, extremely challenging for the tyres as well as drivers. During Friday’s free practice sessions, the teams will have two extra sets of the PZero White medium tyres at their disposal, in order to assess this tyre’s performance at a track that is well-known for its demands on the rubber.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director says: Paul Hembery: “Silverstone always produces some exciting races and there’s a fantastic atmosphere to the whole event, which is why they call it the ‘home of British motorsport’.
Our tyre nomination for this race will give the teams the durability they need to cope with the demands of the circuit, thanks to the hard tyre, and also the speed with which they can demonstrate their pure performance, with the soft tyre. How they use that combination will of course be the basis of the strategy: the teams that feel they have a significant performance advantage might choose to do a series of sprints on the PZero Yellow soft tyre, whereas other teams could conclude that they might be better off staying out for longer on the PZero Silver hard tyre. The choice of strategy will naturally have an effect on qualifying as well as the race, so on Saturday we should already have a clear idea about what the teams are doing. Whichever tactic the teams choose – whether it’s multi-stopping or longer endurance runs – they should all end up fairly close together by the end of the race, which has been one of the most intriguing elements of Formula One so far this year. But of course it’s very hard to make accurate predictions, as Silverstone is one of the many circuits that we have never tested on. In Britain it can rain at any given moment too, which obviously throws all forms of strategy out of the window. ”
The men behind the steering wheel say: Paul Di Resta (Force India F1 Team): “It will feel very special to come to Silverstone for my first British Grand Prix as a Formula One driver. It’s probably going to be my biggest race to date and I know it’s going to be a very busy weekend. I remember driving in free practice last year and the atmosphere was just incredible. The grandstands are always packed and the British crowd is so enthusiastic about Formula One. It’s a great lap and a place where you can really feel a Formula One car excel through the quick corners like Copse, Maggots and Becketts. And this year, with the new layout, there’s a high-speed end of the lap, so it will be interesting to see how the tyres hold on in qualifying. Any high-speed track is always demanding on the tyres because of the high cornering loads. So looking after the tyres is sure to be a key factor for the weekend and getting the strategy spot on will be critical. Getting a good understanding on the tyres over long stints will be a priority during free practice.”
* The downforce levels at Silverstone are comparatively high, in order to provide plenty of aerodynamic grip for the fast corners in the first half of the lap. Silverstone’s flat and rapid layout is due to the fact that it was formerly a military airfield. This also makes it liable to changeable winds, which can affect aerodynamic balance and tyre wear.
* The new pit complex at Silverstone, which has moved to the straight between Club and Abbey corners, took 54 weeks to build using 260,000 man hours of labour and 575 lorry loads of concrete. There are 41 garages and an all-new media centre covering 2780 square metres.
* Pirelli clinched a sequence of five consecutive victories at the British Grand Prix between 1950 and 1954, starting with Nino Farina in an Alfa Romeo 158 and ending with Froilan Gonzalez in a Ferrari 625.
The tyre choices so far
|PZero Red||PZero Yellow||PZero White||PZero Silver|
Pirelli in Great Britain
* Pirelli’s fully-automated MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotised System) factory in Burton on Trent was voted ‘Best Factory 2010’ by a panel of Pirelli’s senior managers, beating 27 other Pirelli plants worldwide to claim the award.
* The concept for the Pirelli calendar was born in the UK. The idea for the calendar came from Pirelli UK’s marketing department in the early 1960s, with the first calendar being shot by British photographer Robert Freeman in Majorca in 1964.
* Pirelli supplies all the most prestigious British car marques with original equipment: Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus and McLaren, consolidating the company’s reputation as the world leader in Ultra High Performance tyres.
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