Technology, sustainability and support for young talents are the three cornerstones of Pirelli’s 2022 motorsport campaign which was presented today. This will be a particularly significant season for the Italian firm, which celebrates its 150thanniversary this year, having been originally founded on January 28, 1872.
Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Head of Motorsport, commented: “This year’s motorsport season, which gets underway shortly with Rallye Monte-Carlo, marks a turning point for us. We have new products for all our major championships, starting with Formula 1, which reinforce the close links with our road car product. We’re also continuing our mission for increasingly sustainable motorsport, in line with our company strategy, having been awarded an important environmental certification from the FIA at the end of last year. And as always, we look to the future by continuing to support motorsport’s brightest up-and-coming talents.”
Motorsport has always played an important role in Pirelli’s history, with competition being a part of it for the last 115 years. The first major success came back in 1907, when Prince Scipione Borghese won the gruelling Peking to Paris race with an Itala on Pirelli tyres. Today, Pirelli takes part in more than 350 different series all over the world, while 2022 opens up a significant new technical chapter. The Formula 1 World Championship introduces new 18-inch tyres, while Pirelli has also created tyres for the latest hybrid formula in the World Rally Championship, not to mention a new range of tyres that covers all the classes in GT racing. On top of that, there’s a focus on different sustainability programmes through motorsport, as well as initiatives to support young drivers.
Pirelli’s 2022 motorsport programme was set out in a live-streamed press conference hosted by Head of Motorsport Mario Isola, as well as Rally Activity Manager Terenzio Testoni and GT Circuit Activity Manager Matteo Braga, with a live link to FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid. There were also appearances on video from rally drivers Craig Breen and Oliver Solberg, both supported by Pirelli at the start of their careers.
THE TECHNOLOGY IN THE NEW TYRES
Formula 1. Formula 1 is about to embark on a technical revolution with Pirelli at the forefront, just as was the case when the championship was first inaugurated in 1950. After more than half a century of 13-inch tyres, the size will now increase to 18 inches, playing a key part in the new technical regulations for 2022, which re-introduce ground effect.
The new 18-inch tyres were designed from the ground-up, with every element of the tyre drawn from a clean sheet of paper: from the profile, to the structure, to the compounds.
The design process took in more than 10,000 hours of indoor testing, more than 5000 hours of simulation, and more than 70 prototypes developed virtually, to eventually create 30 different specifications that were tested by nearly all the teams over more than 20,000 kilometres. The role of the drivers was crucial, with each of them contributing to the development at various points and helping Pirelli arrive at the definitive specifications thanks to their feedback.
The new tyres have a wider working range than their 13-inch predecessors, without compromising warm-up. As a result, overheating is limited and degradation is reduced. There are additionally new temperatures for the tyre blankets. All the tyres will now be heated up to 70 degrees, rather than 100 degrees at the front and 80 degrees at the rear, as was the case previously. The reduction of tyre blanket temperatures is part of a plan to gradually eliminate tyre blankets over the coming seasons, to help reduce electricity consumption and aid sustainability.
The new 18-inch tyres are also more similar to the tyres used every day by ordinary motorists, which helps Pirelli to transfer Formula 1 technology onto the road car product.
Rally. Pirelli has also been present in rallying from the very beginning: since the very first World Rally Championship was run in 1973. The Italian firm has been at the cutting-edge of tyre technology ever since, with 2022 marking the introduction of hybrid engines on World Rally Cars. Pirelli has evolved its entire range of P Zero, Scorpion and Sottozero tyres to cope with the extra weight and additional power of the new Rally1 formula.
The P Zero tyres for asphalt and Scorpion covers for gravel benefit from a reinforced structure and optimised design in order to cope with the increased demands due to the 100 kilograms of extra weight, as well as the increased torque from the electric hybrid units.
These new tyres were first tested with the teams during sessions held at the end of 2021. The data gathered during winter testing, as well as the information obtained from the rallies held in 2022, will provide additional reference points for any future evolutions of these products, in line with Pirelli’s philosophy of continual development. Finally, the studded ice tyre that will make its debut in Sweden benefits form a reinforced structure and improved studs.
GT Series. In GT racing, Pirelli has optimised all its knowledge and production processes to create a more streamlined range of tyres and increase efficiency as well as stock control. The new range of tyres, called P Zero DHF, has been designed to cater for every class of GT racing: GT2, GT3 and GT4.
The new P Zero DHF takes over from both the DHE that has been used up to now for GT3, as well as the DHB that has been used for GT4. The P Zero DHF makes use of a new family of materials, which guarantee a wider working range – especially in warmer conditions – and a new construction that improves the balance between front and rear. The result is increased performance, greater versatility, and a better feeling for the driver. There will also be a renewed range of tyres for the one-make championships supplied by Pirelli, which is a partner to some of the most prestigious car makers in the world, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren. These innovations will benefit not only the drivers in those series, but also drivers of similar road-going examples on the streets.
Reinforcing the close links between road and track, the Trans-Am series in the United States will swap 16-inch tyres for 18-inch tyres this year. The Spa 24 Hours will remain Pirelli’s biggest and busiest single motorsport event of the season: involving more than 100 people of 13 different nationalities as well as nearly 30 trucks, needed to transport more than 13,000 tyres. GT racing represents Pirelli’s core values, thanks to the collaboration with car manufacturers that allows Pirelli to maximise the lessons learned on the race track to develop the latest generation of P Zero ultra high performance tyres for the road.
INCREASINGLY SUSTAINABLE MOTORSPORT
A focus on environmental sustainability has always been central to Pirelli’s strategy and is fully integrated into the company’s business model. As Robert Reid, the FIA’s Deputy President for Sport (who is also responsible for sustainability) pointed out, Pirelli is the first and only tyre maker in the world to have scored three stars in the FIA’s Environmental Accreditation Programme: a prestigious recognition for the company’s efforts with regard to sustainability in motorsport. Among the measures that Pirelli has undertaken to gain this accolade in Formula 1 is the increased use of renewable materials, the elimination of single-use plastics from on-track activities, and a supply chain that is entirely managed according to environmental and social sustainability practices. Furthermore, Pirelli’s motorsport activity has successfully passed a series of rigorous sustainability audits that take into account several different elements to help reduce environmental impact, starting with carbon emissions. Sustainability is also at the heart of the development of Pirelli’s new GT tyre – the P Zero DHF – thanks to the extensive use of virtual modelling, which means that the number of physical prototypes needed can be reduced. The latest range of DHF tyres includes new types of renewable materials that help Pirelli to reach its ambitious environmental targets, while using the same tyre for different classes means that the impact on the environment is reduced from a logistical point of view.
Examples of Pirelli’s environmental sustainability objectives, both in business and manufacturing, include a reduction of overall CO2 emissions by 25% by 2025 (compared to 2015 levels) and a quota equivalent to 100% of electrical energy acquired from renewable sources: an objective that has already been reached for Pirelli’s European factories, which includes the motorsport factories in Slatina (Romania) and Izmit (Turkey).
When it comes to logistics, Pirelli uses a fleet of the most recent Euro 6D trucks to transport tyres and chooses to send as much freight as possible by sea, which is much less polluting than air freight.
In future, Pirelli’s environmental strategy will enable the company – including the motorsport division – to become entirely carbon neutral by 2030, thanks to aggressive plans to replace fossil fuel with 100% renewable energy.
Pirelli is also engaged in research projects to recover valuable materials from motorsport tyres at the end of their lives, and the company is evaluating innovative ideas to extract primary materials from used tyres as they are recycled. To increase the number of tyres involved in this process, Pirelli has started a campaign within the wider world of motorsport to recover all the tyres used internationally throughout a variety of motorsport competitions.
SUPPORTING YOUNG TALENTS
Helping young talents to develop their skills is another important aspect that has always characterised Pirelli’s approach to motorsport, thanks to various programmes in Formula 1 as well as the World Rally Championship, not to mention many other national championships.
In 2022, Pirelli’s support of young drivers is intensified thanks not only to the firm’s continued involvement in the Junior WRC – which this year uses four-wheel drive cars for the first time – but also with its backing of the FIA Rally Star programme: a new competition launched and run by the FIA to find new rallying talents among youngsters between 17 and 26. This is an evolution of the famous Pirelli Star Driver scheme that launched talents such as Ott Tanak and Elfyn Evans, while Craig Breen graduated from another well-known Pirelli-backed initiative to find future rally drivers: the WRC Academy. The young drivers in the Rally Star programme are chosen through a layered selection process based on digital motorsport as well as real driving.
Similar initiatives are in place to help propel promising circuit drivers towards Formula 1 as well. For many years, Pirelli has awarded a cash scholarship to the winning Formula 3 driver, as a helping hand towards the top.
Another important project supported by Pirelli is the FIA Girls on Track programme, designed to promote female drivers and the participation of women in motorsport. All this in the spirit of inclusion and equality, which has always been a priority for Pirelli.