The thrillingly close season of 2012 began so unpredictably with seven different winners in as many races was a testament to the highly evolved and ever-changing nature of tyres from Pirelli in only their second season in-charge as the sole supplier since coming back to the sport. 2011 was more of a learning year for the Italian outfit. Built keeping in mind the ban of blown exhausts last year, the tyres featured a brand-new squarer profile with less rounded shoulders for a wider and more even contact patch with consistent degradation on offer.
In contrast to 2011, the differences in time between compounds were reduced as well. The blown diffuser outlaw has certainly aided mid-pack teams to reel in on the established ones. But as the season went by negative degradation made the races easily covered with a single-stop and the closely packed grid started peeling away as the top teams emerged back on top consistently.
To get the glimpse of 2013, Pirelli have sent out their newly-developed tyres to get tested at the free practice session for Brazil last November. The teams examined what had been the existing hard compound in 2013 structure and came up with a positive feedback. The mid-corner traction was improved and the grip levels got higher likewise.
Last week in Milan, Pirelli announced its plans for the forthcoming season. Jamie Alguersuari and Lucas Di Grassi took up the lead roles in testing and developing the compounds while driving the 2010 Renault R30 over 7,000 km combined on tracks such as Jerez, Barcelona, Paul Ricard and Spa. Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said that the new tyres are still a 2011’s evolution.
The Cinturato wet tyres have a revised rear construction and P Zero dry tyres will be more soft and aggressive and enhance performance figures by half second a lap. This behavior is largely down to its structural proportions as the sidewalls are made flexible and the shoulders are reinforced. The shoulders would stick firmly on the tarmac and warm-up quickly increasing ‘thermal degradation’ (molecular deterioration of materials) and improving traction.
This degradation factor is emphasised as it would extend the operating window leaving races to decide on strategies. Each compound varies about 0.5 second per lap encouraging overtaking maneuvers. Pirelli put all its efforts to up the number of visits to pitbox at least by more than two during races. The major change to the barcode embedded compounds was the hardest tyre choice sidewall-marked orange rather than silver and it would be as fast as the mediums we have had in 2012.
Thanks to Pirelli for helping ladder series as they also revealed that they will reward this year’s GP2 champ with a F1 test session. Former Ferrari F1 driver Jean Alesi has been named as a brand ambassador. Tyres played a pivotal role in being the game changer and we can certainly expect more of it in 2013.