The Pirelli Formula One Experience
14 Jun, 2012
A radiant sun, heat, some motor vehicles and the smell of gasoline, what else is really needed for a fantastic weekend! Pirelli, being the official tire supplier for Formula One, invited IntunedOnline.com to attend the practice and qualification sessions of this special weekend.
The experience begins early in the morning as we get to the hotel to accept this precious VIP "Formula One paddock club" package. A Pirelli attendant then leads us to the bus in direction for the track. As soon as we step on site, the engines echoing in the distance resonates in our ears and the excitement begins. We walk through some rotating doors, which only accept chip-integrated passes, to enter the section reserved to the elite and jetsetters of our society; celebrities, CEOs and executive, etc. Waiters and waitresses warmly greet you with tasty beverages and delicious espressos, croissants and chocolates, worthy of the best cafes in town.
A few steps down and we're now in the lounging area reserved to the guests of Pirelli, and it is then that you notice the exclusivity of this club; the lounge is located directly above the garages where the F1 machines are parked, which enables us with prime real estate to view the pit stops. Our ears would bleed at how loud these machines are, but Pirelli thought of everything by including earplugs in our care package. Without these earplugs, this event would not have been as enjoyable.
After a session of admiring these machines on the straight lines and the pit crews working, we were then attending the highlight of the day; the tour of the team pits and the team garages. It would be futile to even try and explain the excitement felt when attending these once-in-a-lifetime occasions. Our attention was completed devoted to the engineers and crew members, as we got a chance to observe their work from up close. Definitely not something you see every day. Some celebrities and drivers could also be seen walking about behind the scenes.
Once we were done with this memorable tour, it was time for another amazing treat from Pirelli; the food. As if the experience was not already amazing for anyone attending, nothing was left unturned when it came to the experience. From the entrees to the decadent desserts, our meals were splendid, with wine and champagne to complement. Once our stomachs were satisfied, our attention was turned to the tarmac for the last qualification session.
Once the qualification sessions were over, we were then invited to the back of the garages where we could see the installations reserved for drivers when they are not racing. It was in this area that we could observe the Pirelli tire installation stations, and post-race observation stations. Under this tent are various equipment that are completely portable, and they are ready to be shipped to the next race if need be. They even have a backup of every single tool, just in case they had any problems with logistics.
The Pirelli spokesperson responsible for F1 communications, Alexandra Schieren, then explains to us the various differences between every tire available during these races. Did you know that the official supplier brings only two types of tires out of their range of 4 for dry tarmac?
Paul Hembery, the director of all Pirelli motorsport activities, sits down with the engineers and the FIA officials to determine which set of rubber would be optimal for every circuit. This is determined by capturing data around the track regarding the temperature, type of surface, elevation , which is then inputted in their simulation software to put them under various stress-tests. It is only then that they can make a truly informed decision about the optimal sets of tires.
Their choice was made this year with the Supersoft and Soft tires, given the irregularities of the track's surface and the need of optimal traction coming out of a bend. Once this decision is made, Pirelli must supply all of the different teams with enough rubber of each type. Every team is given 3 sets of tires of each type, so if we do the math, that's approximately 1800 tires they must supply for each race! To undertake this feat, Pirelli brings 50 permanent technicians to be able to handle this gargantuan demand.
You can access their website to obtain more information on all of their different rubber offerings: www.pirelli.com
This event was concluded by an interview of Paul Hembery, the tire guru at Pirelli. He proceeded to instruct us of a few details regarding the fabrication of their tires, and one comment that struck us the most was that their street tires are based on the technology acquired through their research for the Formula one. Every advancement they make in terms of research and development for the F1 is then translated, to a certain degree, to their consumer offerings. Another interesting fact is every tire used during the race is recycled back to their plant to create new ones!
Mr Hembery, which is of English descent, could not be happier with the first place finish of Lewis Hamilton! What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen!
By Matthieu Lambert