Pirelli. A name synonymous with not only Formula One Racing (and motorsport in general), but with high-end, luxury-prestige vehicles on a global scale. For over 145 years, the Italian-based company have been innovating and manufacturing the best car tyres for the best car brands; providing a tyre that is demonstrably superior in terms of support and performance.
Pirelli prides itself on its technical and innovative services in both the automotive and motorsport industry, proportionally investing the most any business has ever done in terms of research and development.
However, at the end of the day, you may wonder what is so special about a car tyre? Are they not just wheels of rubber to make a car go around?
Ignorance aside, we found out first-hand at the recent Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix that the Pirelli brand is more detailed and intricate than one can possibly fathom. And it all begins with ‘the perfect fit.’
But before we delve into the intricacies of the Pirelli brand, here is a brief rundown of the wonderful history at the heart of this Italian conglomerate.
Born in the city of Milano in 1872, Giovanni Battista Pirelli first opened the company’s doors specialising in rubber for a range of products, such as scuba diving rebreathers. Pirelli soon turned his attention to creating rubber tyres for motorsport, and in particular, motorcycles.
It wasn’t until the 1920’s, however, with the arrival of the ‘Superflex Low Pressure Tyre’ that Pirelli was immortally intertwined with motorsport. In particular, Grand Prix Racing.
In its 145-year history, Pirelli has since embodied premium, high-end style with a unique Italian touch, underlined by its cutting-edge technology and passion for innovation in the luxury-car and motorsport sector.
Not only that, Pirelli is one of few of its kind to focus solely on the consumer tyre market, which includes tyres for cars, motorcycles and bicycles.
Pirelli and the Formula One
Although sponsoring motorsport competitions since 1907, we learnt that it wasn’t until the creation of the aforementioned ‘Superflex’ tyre that the link between Pirelli, motorsport and consumer products was created.
Unbeknown, the Formula One is as much about racing on the track as it is developing new technology off it. If you look back in history, trialling cars on the road is by no means a ‘new thing’. The 1970’s saw Pirelli’s development of the low-profile tyre for the Lancia Stratos rally.
Prior to this, drivers wanted to utilise wide wheels but couldn’t do so without compromising on the precision and performance of the car. So, a low-profile tyre was born which set a standard for the rest of the automotive world.
Today, Pirelli has helped exceed the technology of tyres beyond imagination. With the creation of electronic sensors (the Pirelli Connesso System), the driver’s pit crew will know of all issues - such as tyre punctures or loss of pressure - before the driver even does.
As guests of the Pirelli brand, the Man of Style team were extremely fortunate to speak with Anthony Peacock of the Pirelli Communications team during a Paddock Tour at the Melbourne Grand Prix.
Discussing all things Pirelli, Anthony was happy to explain Pirelli’s ethos and their quest for ‘The Perfect Fit’.
The Perfect Fit
The first bespoke tyre was made for Lamborghini in 1968. From that time onwards, Pirelli started working with different manufacturers to create tyres that were specifically designed for that particular car.
“Tyres were no longer an aftermarket accessory but rather an integral part of the car’s design,” Peacock said.
Pirelli were involved in the creation of the cars in the very early stages; Pirelli engineers would work closely with the prototypes - together with engineers of manufacturers - to look at handling characteristics and the philosophy of the car.
“The tyre evolved in parallel with the car rather than being fitted on the car after it was finished; that is what we mean by the perfect fit.”
The Perfect Fit Continued: P ZERO
The Pirelli P Zero high-performance tyre is a line of revolutionary tyres manufactured since 1986. As per the notion of ‘the perfect fit’, there is no such thing as one generic P Zero tyre; these tyres are specifically (and perfectly) adapted to a particular car.
The custom-made tyres take 3-years to create and are fitted to the next generation of cars - some of the more famous models include the Ferrari F40, Lamborghini Centenario, Pagani Huayra, the soon-to-be launched (in Australia) BMW M5, and since 2011, the entire Formula One line up.
So, what does the new Pirelli P Zero tyre range do, exactly?
Well, one of the main benefits is a more predictive traction handling, reducing drops in performance and increasing the integrity of the tyre’s structure during high speeds. It’s the P Zero tyre range that shows the close correlation Pirelli has between motorsport and consumer manufacturing.
It’s this notion that every single consumer tyre created is made for a specific fit - the perfect fit - that resonated with the Man of Style team. The attention to detail and service that Pirelli has created their legacy on is beyond impressive; it's genius.
Fortunately, we were able to test out first-hand the amazing handling abilities and control that Pirelli P Zero permits. Jumping into a Jaguar F-Type with its tailor-fitted P Zero tyres was a dream come true, and the experience was perfect in every way possible, zipping from corner to corner on the world famous Albert Park circuit.
Over the duration of the Melbourne Grand Prix weekend, we discussed at lengths what Pirelli has achieved for the motorsport industry (in particular, Formula One Racing) and the services on offer which may not be known to the average person. To say we were impressed would be an understatement.
For more information on ‘The Perfect Fit’, click HERE