Pirelli preview the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang

Pirelli F1 tyre range for 2013

Pirelli F1 tyre range for 2013

The toughest compound in Pirelli’s new 2013 range of tyres makes its debut in Malaysia, complete with a brand new colour. The P Zero Orange hard has been nominated for Sepang together with the P Zero White medium, which was already seen in Australia.

The two hardest compounds in Pirelli’s range are ideal for the extreme temperatures and abrasive surface of Malaysia. Sepang is also well-known for its monsoon-like downpours, which make it extremely likely that the Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyres will be seen at some point over the course of the weekend.

Pirelli’s motorsport director says:

Paul Hembery: “We would describe Sepang as genuinely ‘extreme’: both in terms of weather and track surface. This means that it is one of the most demanding weekends for our tyres that we experience all year. For the first time we see our new Orange hard compound in competition, with this colour chosen to make it more easy to distinguish from the white medium on television. The nomination we have for Malaysia is the same as last year, but the compounds themselves offer more performance and deliberately increased degradation this season, Last year three stops proved to be the winning strategy in a mixed wet and dry race, with a thrilling finish between Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez that was all about tyres. We’d expect three stops again but once more it’s likely to be weather that dominates the action. Even when it isn’t raining, the drivers can expect humidity in the region of 80% and ambient temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade.”

Pirelli’s brand ambassador says:

Jean Alesi: “I’ve taken part in the Malaysian Grand Prix twice: the first time in 1999, which was the inaugural year, and the second time in 2000, which was my final year in Formula One. On both occasions I finished, but I remember what a big challenge it was both for the drivers and the cars: physically it is one of the most demanding races on the calendar. Like Albert Park, Sepang is by no means a ‘typical’ circuit, so what we see happening this weekend is probably not going to be representative of the rest of the season. However, it will certainly show you who has a strong car and a good ability to manage the tyres. With more degradation this year, knowing how to manage the tyres becomes an even more important skill – as it has always been in the history of Formula One – and Malaysia puts the spotlight on this. But if it really starts to rain hard then there is absolutely nothing you can do: it is just a question of trying to survive. So we could have a very interesting result depending on who makes the correct tyre choices.”

The tyre from a circuit point of view:

  • Malaysia is one of the more abrasive surfaces that the cars compete on all year, which is part of the reason why the two hardest compounds from the range have been nominated.
  • The P Zero Orange hard tyre has a high working range, whereas the P Zero White medium has a low working range. This makes it an ideal combination that can deal well with any eventuality. The durability characteristics of the new hard tyre are close to those of last year’s medium tyre, resulting in lap times that are around 0.4s-0.5s quicker than the 2012-specification hard.
  • The Sepang track is built on what was formerly a swamp, with a fundamentally uneven surface. However, the asphalt was resurfaced in 2007, which smoothed out most of the bumps – although some remain.
  • Last year, the hard and medium compounds were also chosen for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The top five drivers adopted a three-stop strategy: intermediate-wet-intermediate-slick. Bruno Senna meanwhile, in fifth place, stopped four times.
  • Further information on Sepang and the heavy demands it places on tyres can be found on a 3D animated video that is copyright-free for media use on Pirelli’s Formula One website: www.pirelli.com/f1pressarea.

Technical tyre notes:

  • Malaysia places heavy lateral demands on the tyres; it’s the second-highest lateral load of the year after Barcelona. This can lead to heat build-up within the tyre, which can reach a maximum of 130 degrees centigrade.
  • Sessions at the Malaysian Grand Prix in the past have been frequently interrupted by heavy rain, and the race was even halted early in 2009, with half-points being awarded. Pirelli has a new specification of Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyre this year; with a redesigned construction to help improve traction and prevent snap oversteer.
  • Although grip levels are high in Malaysia, the frequent rain has the effect of washing any rubber that has been laid down off the track overnight, meaning that there is often a ‘green’ surface at the start of each session. While a dry line can emerge quickly because of the high ambient temperatures, drainage at Sepang is not particularly good, which can lead to pools of standing water.

The tyre choices so far:

PZero Red PZero Yellow PZero White PZero Orange
Australia Supersoft Medium
Malesia Medium Hard

Meet the Pirelli F1 Team: Mario Isola, Racing Manager

Mario was born and bred in Milan, and at every race this year he is Paul Hembery’s right-hand man. Mario looks after the day-to-day running of Pirelli’s Formula One operations at the circuit and back at base in Milan, liaising with the teams and organisers. Basically Mario is the man that people go to if there is a problem to be solved. He also helps to run all of Pirelli’s 250 other motorsport programmes. Mario started off his career as a tyre tester, which gave him a particular sensitivity to the way in which tyres work, and he has also been an engineer in rallying and endurance racing. In his spare time (not that there is much of it) he is a volunteer ambulance driver in Milan and also an amateur rally driver – with some surprisingly good results in the past.

Pirelli in Malaysia:

  • Pirelli in Malaysia is represented by Pirelli Asia-Pacific, which is headquartered in Singapore, only 300 kilometres away. Most of the tyres sold in Malaysia are produced in the Italian firm’s state-of-the-art Yangzhou plant, in China, which produces more than four million units per year.
  • Pirelli has met with plenty of success on the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in the past, winning the title three times in a row with the Motor Racing Image team and Subaru driver Cody Crocker.
  • Malaysian model Ling Tang, born in Gombak close to Sepang, featured on the Pirelli calendar in 1997. The theme that year was ‘women of the world’, shot by celebrated American photographer Richard Avedon.

Other news from Pirelli:

  • As well as Formula One, the GP2 Series gets underway in Malaysia over the weekend. This series also features re-designed tyres, with identical markings to Formula One. The P Zero Orange hard tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres have been nominated for the first two races in Sepang.
  • The 2013 Italian Rally Championship starts next weekend with the Rally del Ciocco in Tuscany. In a new agreement for this year, Pirelli will equip the factory Skoda Italia team, as well as Peugeot Italia.
  • Pirelli is represented in the most famous shop in the world this month, with the opening of a pop-up P Zero store in Harrods of London. The new store sells all the fashion and accessory lines from the P Zero brand, which also supplies Pirelli’s team clothing in Formula One.
  • Pirelli-backed driver and ‘Gymkhana’ Internet sensation Ken Block scored his best-ever World Rally Championship result on the recent Rally Mexico. The American finished seventh overall, having battled for a top-six finish from the beginning in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.