United States Grand Prix Preview: Circuit of the Americas, 14-17 November 2013

Pirelli brings hard and medium compound tyres to the United States

The penultimate race of the season is the United States Grand Prix, which was held for the first time in Texas last year. This season, the same tyre nomination has been made: P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium.

Austin is an extremely varied circuit, which puts plenty of energy through the tyres by alternating fast and flowing sections with some slower and more technical parts.

It’s a very good test of a tyre’s all-round ability, with traction demands out of slow corners just as important as lateral grip through the high-speed changes of direction that are another key characteristic of the 5.513-kilometre Circuit of the Americas.

Paul Hembery: “The hard and medium tyres are the best choice for the United States Grand Prix, because it’s a circuit that places several high-energy demands on the tyres, so you need the most durable compounds in the range. There are some fast corners and many rapid elevation changes as well: in that respect it’s a bit like Spa. When you have more energy going through the tyre, you have a bigger heat build-up – which is what increases wear and degradation. Now that we’re coming to the USA for the second time we have a better idea of what to expect, whereas last year – when we also nominated the hard and the medium – it was much more of a step into the unknown. This year’s compounds are softer, so we would expect around two pit stops in the race, depending also on the rate of track evolution. Even though it’s November we’re still likely to have warm weather, which obviously affects thermal degradation too. Formula One received an absolutely fantastic welcome from the American public last year, which made it a truly memorable race, and we’re very much looking forward to going back to a country full of great F1 fans, which is also a key market for our Ultra High Performance tyres.”

Jean Alesi: “The United States Grand Prix in 1990 was actually my very first grand prix on Pirelli tyres, with the Tyrell, and it turned out to be a very good race for me. It was the first grand prix of my first full season, so always one that I’m going to remember. Back then, American Formula One circuits were mostly street circuits, and this one in Phoenix was no exception. Also, the rules on tyre development were completely open: the dimensions were fixed but apart from that the manufacturers could do what they wanted. With Pirelli, we could go the entire race without stopping, whereas the others had to stop. And this was key to our strong performance that surprised so many people: I led the race for several laps and in the end finished second only to Ayrton Senna in the much more powerful McLaren-Honda! And that was the difference that the tyres made. Of course the United States Grand Prix now is very different. The first year of Austin in 2012 was a real show, with special guests ranging from actors to astronauts, and it was fantastic to see the American people take so enthusiastically to Formula One. It really wasn’t like that in my day, when there was not so much interest in F1 in America. Austin looks like an exciting track to drive as well, which obviously helps.  One of the details that I think everybody remembers is Pirelli’s cowboy hats on the podium: these were really a lot of fun…”

The circuit from a tyre point of view:

Just like Abu Dhabi, Austin is one of the few circuits on the calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction. Other anti-clockwise circuits are Korea, Singapore and Brazil.

The track surface at Austin, which was new last year, is generally quite smooth. However, with the passage of time, surfaces generally tend to become a bit more abrasive year by year. This happens as the bitumen at the very top is swept away, exposing the small stones out of which the asphalt is made.

Further information about Austin and the demands it places on tyres, as well as information about how exactly grip is generated, can be found on a 3D animated video starring Pirelli’s Racing Manager Mario Isola. This is copyright-free for media use on Pirelli’s Formula One website: www.pirelli.com/f1pressarea

Technical tyre notes:

There are two key areas that particularly challenge the tyres at the Austin Circuit. The first is Turn 1, which is unusually a hairpin, where the tyres have to provide optimal traction – even when cold on an out-lap. Turn 11 is also particularly demanding as the driver starts braking heavily with the car already turning, creating an uneven distribution of forces across the tyres. Good grip from the compound is essential for an effective turn-in.

The cars will run with low gearing and medium downforce: a set-up that is not dissimilar to the one that was formerly used for the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul – which has a few points in common with the Circuit of the Americas.

The top three finishers in America last year (Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso) used a one-stop strategy, starting on the medium tyre and ending on the hard. Last year there was around half a second of lap time difference between the two compounds; this year that should be slightly bigger.

The tyre choices so far:

  PZero Red PZero Yellow PZero White PZero Orange
Australia Supersoft   Medium  
Malaysia     Medium Hard
China   Soft Medium  
Bahrain     Medium Hard
Spain     Medium Hard
Monaco Supersoft Soft    
Canada Supersoft   Medium  
Great Britain     Medium Hard
Germany   Soft Medium  
Hungary   Soft Medium  
Belgium     Medium Hard
Italy     Medium Hard
Singapore Supersoft   Medium  
Korea Supersoft   Medium  
Japan     Medium Hard
India   Soft Medium  
Abu Dhabi   Soft Medium  
United States     Medium Hard

Meet the Pirelli F1 Team: Ilaria Parolari, personal assistant to Paul Hembery

Ilaria was born in Italy near Como but grew up to close to Milan, where she is based now. Ilaria studied languages and has been part of Pirelli since 2004. Before moving into motorsport, she worked in Pirelli’s travel and logistics department but was always a fan of racing cars. Then, after Pirelli entered Formula One in 2011, Ilaria was offered a role as Paul’s PA.

Her priority is to take care of all activities related to Paul’s business needs, managing his diary and organizing every aspect of his life: meetings, travel, speeches and other commitments – both in the office in Milan and on the track all over the world. Ilaria works in collaboration with all the many other departments involved in motorsport: during each grand prix week she takes care of all the VIP guests and manages the guest tours in the paddock. And if that weren’t enough, she’s also in charge of requests for F1 passes and managing the paddock passes during every grand prix week. Which makes her a person in demand…

She doesn’t have much spare time, but when she’s at home enjoys seeing her family – especially her twin sister – and likes art exhibitions, concerts and clubbing.

“Above all I’m a very positive person,” says Ilaria. “When I’m upset people notice it, but I try and make sure that doesn’t happen very often. Normally I’m smiling all the time!”

Other news from Pirelli:

For the first time, the Pirelli-equipped GP2 and GP3 Series held a joint test, for three days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, from Tuesday to Thursday. McLaren Formula One junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne set the GP2 pace with a time of 1m48.657s posted on the evening of the final day in a DAMS car. A number of this year’s GP3 drivers also sampled GP2 machinery at the test, such as Pirelli’s prize-winner Facu Regalia.

In GP3, Patric Niederhauser topped the time sheets thanks to a time of 1m55.372s, set on Thursday afternoon. Niederhauser, who drove for MW Arden at the test, was one of this year’s existing GP3 competitors. By way of comparison, Mark Webber’s pole position at this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was 1m39.957s. Both the GP2 and GP3 series used the current specification of Pirelli tyre, running in the daylight and also under the Abu Dhabi floodlights by night.

Pirelli has just won the prestigious ‘Top of Mind’ prize for the fifth consecutive year in Brazil, which is the Italian firm’s biggest market. This means that Pirelli has again been officially acknowledged as one of the most recognised brands in the country by Brazil’s leading research institute.

The latest winter products from the P Zero fashion range – including rubberised waterproof coats – have now gone on sale in their own dedicated section at Harrods of London, billed as the most famous department store in the world.