Pirelli Bring Hardest Tyres for Silverstone Challenge

by Paul Hensby

The 2013 British Grand Prix saw Formula 1 tyre manufacturer Pirelli suffer a lot of negative press after numerous tyre failures that affected drivers up and down the grid. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso and McLaren’s Sergio Perez were all subject to tyre failures, and Pirelli will want to put that race behind them as they return to the track this year.

Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery is looking forward to coming back to the track, and believes the current compounds of tyre will be well suited to the Silverstone track. Pirelli have brought the white-banded P Zero Medium and orange-banded P Zero Hard tyres to the British track this weekend.

“Silverstone is one of the truly great venues of the year, which is steeped in history and always thrilling for the drivers and fans because of the high speeds involved,” said Hembery. “British fans are among the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic of the year: it’s absolutely fantastic to see them out in full force, whatever the weather. And the weather is always a talking point in Silverstone of course; in the past we’ve seen everything from bright sunshine to torrential rain.

“As a result, the ability to make quick strategy decisions based on real-time conditions is always very important, as you can’t necessarily rely on previous data. We’ve brought our two hardest tyres, which should be well suited to the conditions.”

Former Tyrrell, Ferrari, Benetton, Sauber, Prost and Jordan Formula 1 driver and current Pirelli consultant Jean Alesi raced on the two previous configurations of the Silverstone track in F1 but had long since retired from the sport when the current layout was introduced. He has driven the current Silverstone layout in a GT car, and knows the importance of a balanced car to get the best lap time at the track.

“Silverstone is one of the real universities of Formula One, but the Silverstone of a few years ago was quite a different thing to Silverstone as it is now,” said Alesi. “Back then there were only about six corners in total, including some like Stowe that used to be taken at crazy speeds. Now it’s changed a lot: I’ve actually only driven the current configuration of circuit in GT cars.

“However, there is still scope for absolute driving on the limit in some places. The Becketts series of corners is still flat-out, as it always used to be, for example. You need a perfectly balanced car and tyres to enable you to make up those vital tenths of a second that are key to a good lap time, to maintain a good pace over what is a very demanding race. It’s more mentally rather than physically tiring, as the circuit flows quite nicely.”

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