For the first time since 2019, the F1 Night Race is back in Singapore to tear up the tracks and bring in the crowds. And supporting the race from the sidelines is an all-important Italian company – Pirelli, who supplies tyres designed specifically for F1.
Represented by Pirelli Motorsports Director, Mario Isola, as well as Managing Director of Pirelli (APAC), Filippo Cibrario, Pirelli shared more about their role in driving motorsports into the future, from their sustainability practices, to new tyre compound choices and design for the F1 Night Race in Singapore.
One of the biggest changes Pirelli has made for F1 is an upgrade from 13-inch tyres to 18-inch ones. Not only is there a difference in size, but also a complete redesign from the profile, to the structure, to the compounds. These took over 10,000 hours of indoor testing, and more than 5000 hours of simulation, alongside over 70 prototypes developed virtually to perfect.
“The change in tyres allows the cars to lose less down force, and to work at high temperatures without penalising the warm-up. It allows the cars to overtake each other more times, which is exactly what spectators want to see,” says Isola. “We need to set the stage for all these elements to be in the right place, and with this year being the first year using 18 inch tyres, there was a lot of fine-tuning to be done, with regards to the compounds and the information we got from the track and racers.”
This new design comes on the heels of the announcement that tyre blankets are set to be phased out come 2024. F1 uses electric tyre blankets to pre-heat the tyres before bolting them on the cars, and are sometimes also used to hide tyres from other teams to hide their strategies. But in light of the sport heading towards a more sustainable future, this practice is now being banned in an aim to reduce energy consumption, as well as lowering costs.
“F1 cars are some of the most efficient and fastest in the world, and without the blankets, we need to consider how we can use less energy to heat the tyres,” says Isola. “Our tyres are designed to have less overheating, which allows us to push further. In future, we will continue to develop how much vertical load a tyre can maintain, and how to cope with higher loads and higher torques.”
In 2021, the maximum temperature of the tyre warmers was reduced to just 100°C at the front and 80°C at the rear. Currently only 70°C temperatures are allowed for all slicks while the number of blankets was reduced from 40 to 20.
Particular attention must be paid to Singapore’s unique environment and track, where everything from the heat to the humidity and the 23 corners require particular tyres and maintenance to circumvent. “Everything in Singapore is different, from the more ‘aggressive’ asphalt used, to how they need to wash and reset the track every day due to the heat,” says Isola. “Rear tyres are requires to navigate the corners, and being low speed, it’s a real challenge for engineers to ensure there isn’t too much tension on the traction, and requires balancing the car and rear pressure.”
With F1’s own race towards sustainability, with the goal of hitting carbon neutral by 2030, Pirelli has also implemented several policies and changes in their processes to become more environmentally-friendly. “Sustainability is our priority and mission, from production to logistics,” says Isola. “We create energy from tyres, and the future is to change the approach in order to draw more raw materials from tyres. We are constantly looking at small details to be more sustainable, such as not using single use plastics in our operations, and our team kit made using recycled materials. Even the food not used during events are redistributed to those in need and do not go to waste. And when it comes to design, we try as much as possible to simulate rather than spend resources on creating prototypes, cutting 30% of our physical prototypes with this method.”
Pirelli also happens to be celebrating their 150th anniversary this year, almost as old as Italy itself at 164 years, and remains a symbol of Italian innovation and technological mastery. “Pirelli has been involved with motorsports since 1907, and I believe it’s the passion, the tradition, and something in our DNA that drives us forward. Our focus on industrialisation is also closely tied to futurism, where we looked into speed, motors, movement, and machines, all so closely linked to the Italian identity.says Cibrario. “Looking into the future, Pirelli stands by its mentality to always think like a startup, because if you do that you can continue forever, alongside continually bringing in new people, from new management to new engineers. Everything is done together, with the spirt of effort and teamwork, and we’re very proud to be part of the success of F1.”
“This is a time of many celebrations, from the return of F1 to Singapore, to Pirelli’s 150th anniversary, a brand so deeply connected with Italy and Italian culture and Italian art, having sponsored fantastic exhibits over the years, all around world,” says Ambassador of Italy to Singapore Mario Andrea Vattani. “It is important to us to promote Italian business and companies like Pirelli, and to signal to Singapore how proud we are to present them, and showcase them in this light.”
Find out more about Pirelli’s 150th anniversary celebrations here
Singapore Grand Prix: Singapore F1 – Formula 1 Night Race 2022 runs from 30th September to 2nd October 2022. Tickets and more information available here