Motorsports News

Adriana ponders Pirelli buyout

Because Adriana Lima

Adriana Lima woke in a sweat this morning with news that Chinese company ChemChina is about to launch a €7.1b deal which will give it a controlling stake in the Italian tyre giant Pirelli.

The deal, agreed to by Pirelli shareholders on the weekend, involves a complicated series of moves that will see ChemChina buyout current investors in order to gain the majority control it seeks. ChemChina’s ultimate goal is to make Pirelli, the world’s fifth-largest tyre maker, a privately owned company.

Pirelli has said there will be no impact on jobs. Although, current chairman and CEO Tronchetti Provera will relinquish his chairman’s position but will stay on as chief executive. ChemChina is expected select a new chairperson.

And what does Adriana Lima really think about seeing the 143-year-old Italian icon slip into foreign ownership?

Oh, we lost you after, “Adriana Lima woke in a sweat…” Yeah, that’s fair enough.

[Source: Reuters | Pic: Pirelli]

Formula 1

F1 teams vote for extra qualifying tyres

Pirelli P Zero F1 tyres

Formula 1 qualifying in 2014 is set to change after the teams voted for a revised format in a bid to encourage drivers to fight for pole position in Q3.

Currently the tyres used by a driver in Q3 must remain on his car at the start of the race. This rule had led to drivers less likely to win pole position to stay in the garage during Q3 in order to preserve tyres and to give them freedom of choice for the tyres used to start the race.

A proposed change to provide an extra set of tyres to all drivers for Q3 should encourage increased competition for grid positions. Although, as is the norm in F1, it’s not quite that simple.

At the end of Q1 the 16 drivers to progress through to Q2 will all be given a fresh set of option tyres (softer compound). However, this extra set of tyres can only be used in Q3. If a driver fails to make it into Q3 he then gets to keep that fresh set of tyres for the race.

Conversely—and this is where it gets a bit weird—drivers competing for pole in Q3 must use the new set of tyres and then hand them back to Pirelli after quali. They will then start the race on the set of tyres they used for their fastest lap in Q2.

Confused yet? The upshot of all that is that Q2 runners get an extra set of tyres compared with those who make it into Q3 and therefore an advantage still remains for midfield teams to sit out of Q3.

There are also proposed changes to the length of time each qualifying period runs:

  • Q1 to run for 18 minutes (down from 20)
  • Q2 to run for 15 minutes (no change)
  • Q3 to run for 12 minutes (up from 10)

While the teams have voted in support for these changes they still need to be rubber stamped by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, which meets next week. It’s expected the changes will come into force before the Australian Grand Prix.

[Source: The F1 Times | Pic: Pirelli]

Formula 1

Pirelli renews F1 contract for three more years

Pirelli P Zero hard compound tyre

The sometimes chequered partnership between Formula 1 and Pirelli will continue for another three years after a new agreement was reached between both parties. The new contract starts with this year meaning Pirelli will remain the sole tyre supplier until at least the end of the 2016 F1 season.

In a bid to overcome the testing dramas we witnessed in 2013 new sporting regulations have been introduced which mandate tyre testing must be undertaken by all teams.

Specifically, the agreement states that one day of official pre-season testing will be dedicated to running Pirelli’s wet weather tyres (cue Bernie’s sprinklers).

There will be eight days of in-season testing in 2014—four blocks of two day tests—and each team will be required to dedicate one of those days to tyre testing with Pirelli. There are 11 teams in F1 and no more than two teams can conduct their in-season tyre testing on the same day.

[Pic: Pirelli]

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo 4C goes to Nürburgring marketing school

The Alfa Romeo 4C recently had its turn to set a lap time on the Nürburgring. The result was a not too shabby 8 minutes 4 seconds. Although, keep in mind, that’s only four seconds faster than a Renault Megane RS 265 Trophy.

Pirelli didn’t want to miss its chance to join in the fun, either, and you’ll be pleased to know the 4C set this time on PZero Trofeo tyres. This clip gives us a quick look at the 4C on the Nordschleife—head over to AUSringers to watch the full lap.

[Thanks to Craig for the tip]

Formula 1

Has Pirelli secured its F1 future until 2018?

Pirelli F1 tyres

Pirelli could be set to put all of this year’s controversies behind it and sign a five-year extension to be the exclusive tyre supplier to Formula 1. The news follows last week’s WMSC meeting which cleared the way for Pirelli to stay in the sport.

It’s believed Pirelli has worked behind the scenes to sign contracts with each of the 11 F1 teams, as well as Formula One Management. Add this to locked in advertising deals at F1 circuits around the world and the FIA may not have much choice but to rubber stamp Pirelli’s extension until the end of the 2018 season.

If nothing else a long-term tyre deal would remove one variable from the sport as it enters a new technical era from next year, when new regulations require a switch 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engines.

[Source: Pitpass | Pic: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Formula 1

Pirelli set to continue in F1 for 2014

Pirelli F1 tyres

At last week’s World Motor Sport Council meeting it was announced the 2013 Concorde Agreement had become operative. Part of that agreement paved the way for Pirelli to continue as the sole tyre supplier to F1 in 2014.

“In this new process, the FIA will be confirmed as the body in charge of conducting the tender process,” an official FIA statement read. “The Commercial Rights Holder will be entitled to run the commercial negotiations with potential suppliers, with a view to the selected single supplier being officially appointed by the WMSC.

“In order to cover the transition period and considering the contracts already settled by FOM and the Teams with Pirelli, the WMSC today confirmed that Pirelli may continue to supply tyres to competitors in the FIA F1 World Championship, subject to the requisite technical and safety standards of the FIA being met.”

This news caps off a rather trying year for Pirelli, with several spectacular failures resulting in boycott threats and the controversial secret test with Mercedes AMG just some of the moments to trouble Paul Hembery and his colleagues.

Formula 1

Pirelli previews 2013 Hungarian GP

Pirelli P Zero F1 tyre

Since the exploding tyre dramas of the British Grand Prix we’ve been told teams had mounted tyres the wrong way around, that the teams are too paranoid and threats of a driver boycott prior to the German Grand Prix.

That culminated in hastily arranged test of newly created tyres (2012 carcass, using 2013 compounds) spliced into the recent young driver testing at Silverstone.

So, in their official video preview (available below) of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix you’d reckon Pirelli would mention something about the new tyres. Even if these videos were produced months ago you’d reckon they’d be able to edit the voiceover. Apparently not.

In the pre-race press release, though, we do get some acknowledgement.

“Hungary marks the first event for our latest specification P Zero tyres, which consist of the 2012 construction matched to the 2013 compounds,” confirmed Paul Hembery. “These tyres were tried out by the teams at Silverstone during the young driver test, who benefitted from the opportunity to adapt the set-up of their cars to best suit the new tyres.”

Hembery goes on to discuss some of the features of the Hungaroring circuit. “Now they get to use them in competition for the first time, and with qualifying particularly important at the Hungaroring, the work done in free practice will be very important,” he added. “Overtaking at this circuit is never an easy task, so the teams will be looking to use strategy to maximise their opportunities to gain track position.

“The selection of medium and soft tyres should provide plenty of chances to help them do that, based on the data that all the teams gain with different fuel loads in free practice. Temperatures in Hungary can be very high, and this is the other factor on which the levels of wear and degradation experienced will depend.

“Traction and braking are two critical aspects of tyre performance in Hungary, with the teams running a set-up designed to emphasise these key areas. With levels of lateral energy relatively low, tyre performance rather than durability will be the limiting factor and this will form the basis of the strategy selected—with the teams aiming to keep the tyres within the peak window of operating performance for as long as possible.

“The design of our latest tyres should help them to do this.”

Formula 1

Pirelli boss says F1 teams are too paranoid

Pirelli tyres at 2013 German Grand Prix

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery is used to being the centre of controversy in recent times and his latest comments won’t do anything to change that.

Discussing the ability for Pirelli to complete meaningful testing during tyre development Hembery said,”We are not interested in helping one team over another, we just want to do our job. We don’t care if we do tests with five different teams, one after the other.

“The paranoia levels are high because the competition levels are high, but at a certain point that has to be let go to let us do our job.”

Hembery explained simulators can be helpful, but even that has pitfalls. “You can do a lot of things on simulators and even there I cannot use just one simulator, because then I will be told I am biasing one team over another,” he added. “That has to change. We have to have some things done differently.”

Perhaps in a bid to make a clear statement Hembery added that the controversial secret test with Mercedes in May, for which both parties were punished, was the most valuable test program he has overseen. “It sounds terrible when I say it but the best tyre test we have done for three years was with Mercedes at Barcelona.

“Looking at it in a selfish way, from our point of view, it was the best tyre test we have done. We had hard cars, hard drivers, working professionally and giving us exactly what we want.”

While much of the Pirelli drama is grist for the mill as far as F1 chatter goes, it does keep everyone on watch as to what will happen in 2014, with Pirelli’s involvement yet to be confirmed. It would still seem the most likely outcome that Pirelli will remain in F1, but who knows, perhaps even Goodyear could return after a 16 year absence?

[Source: Eurosport]

Formula 1

F1 drivers talk about tyres ahead of German GP

Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel

At the FIA’s Thursday press conference ahead of the German Grand Prix the drivers were asked about the new kevlar-belted Pirelli tyres. Luke Smith from NBC Sports asked: “Pirelli are bringing in new construction of tyres for the race weekend. From a safety aspect, how comfortable do you feel racing with these tyres?”

With word also coming through that the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association has said the drivers will boycott the race if the tyre blow outs experienced at the British Grand Prix are repeated it was a very good question.

Here are the replies from the six drivers in attendance at the press conference:

Sergio Perez: Well, I think it’s definitely important to change something for safety, no longer for the performance. I think it’s very important that we as drivers feel safe, something that could really happen, a big accident in the last race weekend, so I think that definitely it’s a good thing that Pirelli is reacting to make a change.

Nico Hulkenberg: Yeah, I agree with Sergio. I think it is for safety now and there must be some action and there is some action, there are changes and I think generally this track here is not as high speed, not as many high speed corners so the tyres don’t get as hard a time as they did at Silverstone. So I’m confident that this will be safe now.

Adrian Sutil: Yeah, as long as it’s for safety, I think they have to improve it, yes, but it hasn’t been a hundred percent that it was a rear tyre issue, so one says it’s a tyre issue what caused the punctures at Silverstone, some people say it’s maybe kerbing or something like that, so it’s always hard to see where the problem is, but four punctures in a race is too much, so they have to get behind it. I feel safe on these tyres and had no problems with them. I had some two stop races, I did a two stop strategy in Silverstone so for me the concern is not so much.

Daniel Ricciardo: Not much more to add. All I can say is that you’re driving as hard as you can and you don’t really put it… it’s definitely at the back of your mind. As we saw at the weekend, the tyres that went… it was pretty instant… I don’t think any of the drivers felt much before it happened, so all we can do is drive hard and hang on, but I’m definitely… yeah, I’m sure the changes that they’ve made are going to be for the best. But it’s definitely at the back of our mind whilst we’re in the car.

Sebastian Vettel: I think first of all that it’s good that within not even a week’s time, how we were able to get a different tyre for this race which hopefully is safer for all of us. Obviously the last race was not what we want and not satisfactory so I think it’s good that we have a new tyre here. How much better and how different it will be is difficult to judge at this stage but I’m confident that it’s a step forward.

Nico Rosberg: Well, I trust the FIA is going to make the right calls, as they are, they’re working on it flat out together with Pirelli, so I’m sure there’s going to be progress and it shouldn’t be a concern this weekend.

[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Formula 1

Drivers threaten German GP boycott over tyre dramas

2013 British Grand Prix

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association has threatened to boycott this weekend’s German Grand Prix if there is a repeat of the tyre dramas seen at Silverstone last week.

Pirelli says it has identified the four main factors responsible for the spectacular tyre failures in the British Grand Prix and will use kevlar-belted tyres at the Nürburgring.

If the new measures don’t work, the GPDA has put Pirelli on notice. “The drivers of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association wish to express their deepest concerns about the events that took place at Silverstone,” said a GPDA statement.

“We trust that the changes made to the tyres will have the desired results and that similar problems will not occur during the German GP weekend.

“We are ready to drive our cars to the limit, as we always do, and as it is expected by our teams, sponsors and fans.

“However, the drivers have decided that, if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans.”

We’ve no reason to believe that the drivers wouldn’t follow through with their threat to withdraw, but if tyre problem do re-occur we’d also not be surprised if the drivers backed down and raced, perhaps with special conditions. It wouldn’t be the first time drivers threaten to withdraw from a race on safety concerns, only to renege at the last moment.

[Source: Autosport | Pic: Ferrari]

Formula 1

You mounted them the wrong way, silly!

Pirelli tyres on display at 2013 British Grand Prix

After the PR disaster that was the British Grand Prix, where four drivers suffered exploding rear tyres, Pirelli has explained its theories on why things went wrong, which largely reads as “it’s not our fault!”.

According to Pirelli four main factors caused the issues and just wait until you read the first one! These factors have been outlined in an article published to the Pirelli website (recommended reading) and state:

After exhaustive analysis of the tyres used at Silverstone, Pirelli has concluded that the causes of the failures were principally down to a combination of the following factors:

1) Rear tyres that were mounted the wrong way round: in other words, the right hand tyre being placed where the left hand one should be and vice versa, on the cars that suffered failures. The tyres supplied this year have an asymmetric structure, which means that they are not designed to be interchangeable. The sidewalls are designed in such a way to deal with specific loads on the internal and external sides of the tyre. So swapping the tyres round has an effect on how they work in certain conditions. In particular, the external part is designed to cope with the very high loads that are generated while cornering at a circuit as demanding as Silverstone, with its rapid left-hand bends and some kerbs that are particularly aggressive.

2) The use of tyre pressures that were excessively low or in any case lower than those indicated by Pirelli. Under-inflating the tyres means that the tyre is subjected to more stressful working conditions.

3) The use of extreme camber angles.

4) Kerbing that was particularly aggressive on fast corners, such as that on turn four at Silverstone, which was the scene of most of the failures. Consequently it was the left-rear tyres that were affected.

Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes and Pirelli got away with it (mostly)

2013 Spanish Grand Prix

While we were off last week the FIA International Tribunal delivered its verdict on the so-called secret tyre test carried out by Pirelli and Mercedes AMG.

The test was brought into question on account of Mercedes using a 2013-spec car driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, complete with disguised helmets. Such circumstances would appear to be a clear breach of the rules which ban in-season testing. In handing down its findings the International Tribunal said Mercedes did gain an unfair advantage.

A portion of the detailed ruling, which has been published by the FIA, reads:

It is inconceivable that Mercedes did not obtain a material advantage from three days of testing even if only as a result of the running of its car(s) – wholly irrespective of any matter relating to tyres.

Further, Ross Brawn candidly accepted in his evidence that it was inevitable that some advantage had been obtained, although he regarded that advantage as having been minimal.

Yet, on the face of it, both parties got away with it.

Officially, both Mercedes and Pirelli have been reprimanded and Mercedes will be forced to sit out the three-day young driver test to be held at Silverstone next month.

Since the young driver tests have been moved to mid-season, instead of after the final race, they have morphed from an opportunity to assess young talent to a more season-specific test where teams will extract useable data for the remaining races.

So, on the surface, the penalty will hurt Mercedes, but really, it’s all a bit wet lettuce leaf. The FIA, meanwhile, says it will endeavour to clarify matters regarding testing to ensure similar incidents don’t happen again.

Official commentary from the FIA can be read below.