After a series of Formula 1 tire failures at the British Grand Prix, which Pirelli attributed to a combination of factors highlighted here, the company has confirmed its decision to use Kevlar-belted rear tires for both the medium and soft compound at Nurburgring in Germany for the upcoming Grand Prix. According to Pirelli, even though the 2013 spec of the Pirelli Formula One tires are completely safe when used correctly, the Kevlar-belted rear tires are easier to manage.
Paul Hembery: “Surprisingly, the Nurburgring is one of the circuits that we have the least experience of, having only raced there once before in Formula One, but we’re certain that we have chosen the correct compromise between performance and durability by bringing the medium and soft compounds. These were actually the same compounds that we chose for this track in 2011, but since then the tires have got softer and faster, so we would expect a quicker race time with an average of three pit stops for most drivers. The Nurburgring is not on the whole an especially demanding circuit for tires but there are still some distinctive aspects to look out for when it comes to tire management, such as the kerbing on the chicanes. We are expecting a performance gap of 0.8-1.0 second between the two nominated compounds, which should make the strategy options versatile. For this race only, we will bring Kevlar-belted rear tires, following the incidents at the British Grand Prix. Even though the 2013 highperformance steel-belted version is completely safe when used correctly, the Kevlarbelted version is easier to manage and as long as there is no system in place which allows us to enforce tire related specifications, like tire pressures or camber, the incorrect use of which were contributing factors of the tire failures in Silverstone, we prefer to bring a less sophisticated tire. From the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards there will be a completely new range of tires, combining the characteristics of our 2012 tires with the increased performance of the 2013 specification.”
Jean Alesi: “The Nurburgring is a legendary name but personally I never found the modern circuit particularly involving, although it has changed a lot during the years. It’s a circuit that tends to be quite kind to tires, so the question of tire management isn’t a big one: you just drive as hard as you like. There’s always been a good atmosphere though as the fans are very enthusiastic, and I am sure that is just the same now. You have quite a variety of different corners in the lap so it’s mostly a question of finding a good rhythm and stringing them together in the most efficient way. I always thought of Nurburgring as a reasonably straightforward race: it’s not so much a big challenge but more a test of precision and not making any mistakes. If you start in a good grid position and have a clean race you should come away with a good result: you don’t often see big surprises. That’s unless it rains of course: then anything can happen…”
The varied weather at the modern Nurburgring circuit requires a variety of tire options, because of the frequent rain the moisture washes away any rubber that has been deposited on the track. With more rubber laid down, grip increases and wear decreases.
Due to the lack of tire data from last year on this circuit, free practice will be important in order to assess how the latest 2013 tires perform in different temperatures and with different fuel loads.
For more information about the Nurburgring and the demands it places on tires you can visit Pirelli’s Formula One website: www.pirelli.com/tire/us/en/homepage.html