The Formula One season came to an end last weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, where Autosport International exhibitor Pirelli showed the world its wider 2017 spec tyres. After the event, the Italian tyre manufacturer completed the last of its 2017 tyre testing programme at the track where Motorsport Director Paul Hembery spoke to Autosport International ahead of the show at the NEC, Birmingham between 12th-15th January.
The front tyre on the 2017 cars has grown wider by 60mm, going from 245-305mm, whilst the rear tyre has grown by 80mm, from 325-405mm. As a result, the 2017 tyres are around 25% wider than the current tyres. This applies to the intermediate and full wet tyres as well as the slicks and the size of the rims will remain unchanged at 13".
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director, said: “The aerodynamic progress made by next year’s cars will lower lap times by around five seconds compared to 2015, and about three seconds compared to this year. The new cars that will take to the track for the first time in February will have a downforce increase of more than 20%: much more than we have seen with the mule cars. And that progress will continue throughout the whole of next season. So the next phase of our development, aimed at 2018 when the cars will be faster still, already begins in February.”
ASI: What new products does Pirelli have planned for 2017?
PH: One of our most exciting products is the new Formula 1 tyre for 2017, which is 25% wider than its predecessor as part of a package of measures designed to improve performance by about five seconds per lap. On the road car side, we launched a brand new P Zero in 2016, and we’ll be seeing a version of that for high performance SUVs later in 2017, as well as a new Scorpion All Terrain tyre.
ASI: As sole tyre supplier to F1, what are the biggest changes to the new regulations for tyres?
PH: The bigger size is the most significant change, meaning that the 2017 F1 cars are going to have an extremely dramatic new look to them. But the changes we have made go beyond that: in order to accommodate the different vehicle dynamics next year, we’ve also come up with brand new tyre compounds and structures, which have been tested throughout this season.
ASI: How does knowledge gained in F1 get transferred to Pirelli’s other motorsport and road products?
PH: Formula 1 is our biggest research and development laboratory. So the lessons we learn from competing at the very top level of motorsport are instrumental in shaping the next generation of road car tyres, in exactly the same way that the car manufacturers involved in F1 use the sport as a test bed for future technologies.
ASI: What does Pirelli see as the principal benefit from exhibiting at the Autosport International Show?
PH: The show traditionally marks the beginning of a brand new motorsport season, so it’s a great place to be in order to keep abreast of everything that is happening on both a national and international level. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our ultra high performance products in front of a passionate automotive audience.
Head to Autosport International’s website to purchase tickets ahead of the show in January 2017 here.