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“Pirelli is ready for Formula 1” says confident De la Rosa
“Pirelli is ready for Formula 1” says confident De la Rosa
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jan 2011   |  6:44 pm GMT  |  58 comments

The development of the new generation F1 tyres from Pirelli continues apace, but the company has now concluded the private part of its testing programme following a wet/dry test at Abu Dhabi.

Pedro de la Rosa has been driving the Pirelli test car, based on the 2009 Toyota.

On February 1 the F1 teams will be in Valencia, mostly with new specification 2011 cars, to test for real on Pirelli tyres and the choice of compounds for the first race in Bahrain will be made soon afterwards. Unlike tests on Bridgestones in recent years, Pirelli will bring a number of different tyres for the teams to try to the February tests, hoping to gain as much knowledge as possible.

At the Abu Dhabi test in November the feeling was that the soft tyre was pretty much ready to race, but that the hard compound tyre needed more work. Most teams and drivers will be interested to see what the revised hard tyre is like in the February test. It’s an important tyre, being used at a number of tracks on the calendar, particularly the ones featuring corners with high loadings.

Both tyres exhibited wear characteristics quite different from Bridgestone, whereby the performance dropped off as the run went on, rather than stabilising. This will lead to more pit stops this year, probably two at each race. The front tyre was stronger relative to the rear than the Bridgestone, a source of great relief to Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher, who struggled with the weak 2010 Bridgestone fronts.

Although the track improvement was significant and made it hard to judge, the feeling from engineers I spoke to after November’s Abu Dhabi test was that the Pirelli was around 2 seconds a lap slower than the Bridgestone, but that is expected to have come down since. McLaren and Force India are both using their 2010 cars for the Valencia test so we should get an idea of the relative performance of the two tyres after that.

This week De La Rosa has been busy putting the new Pirelli wet tyre through its paces in F1’s first ever night time wet test – on an artificially dampened track. He also did extensive dry running and as he signed off he gave the Italian marque the thumbs up.

“In my opinion, Pirelli is ready now for Formula One,” he said emphatically. “The dry tyre test went very well, and confirmed everything we had learned in Bahrain the week before. But the most original part of the test was when we were running at night on the wet tyres, which was as new an experience for me as it was for everyone else. The most important thing was that the water levels were consistent, which allowed us to have some accurate results from the test. At the end of it, we’ve come up with two tyres – wet and intermediate – which I believe are both competitive and stable.”

Meanwhile De La Rosa has told Autosport that he will not be driving for Hispania Racing, as has been rumoured on some websites, “HRT is, for me, not an option,” he said. “I don’t know what the future will cover. I’m trying to find a race drive in Formula 1 as always, I will never give up. Pirelli are planning to do some more testing during the year. I don’t know, possibly I will be running with Pirelli, a race drive somewhere, or a reserve role in Formula 1. The next few weeks will be quite important for my future.”

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…’I don’t expect nor want this to be posted’

Hard luck, Husker!


I think a very important point about Pirreli enterning the F1 game is the oportunity for a particular team to use their information during their own development of their 2011 chalenger.

Sharing information has been going on for many years, and as we know it came to a head a few years ago with Ferrari and Mclaren. I could almost garantee that a corporation closely associated with the Italian tyre company is going to get thousands and thousands of kms worth of tyre evaluations and data. Even though that information is created through a very different Formula car. It is still amazingly important.

I wonder whos got the contacts and the cash to bribe Pirreli. They are Italians in the end! haha Ciao paisAnoooooooo


Interesting having Pedro doing this and having him so close to vital information as he has been involved with espionage before.

Will he again give the info away ? or sell it ?


Hi James. I’m a member of a Formula 1 Modeling website ( where this was posted and I thought you’d be interested it the story which honestly is beyond ridiculous>

Canadian News Editorial About Banning Cigarette Advertising

Link to the actual story for completeness sake(found in the opening post in the f1m thread)>


I am not advertising either site or anything and since this it completely off topic I don’t expect nor want this to be posted. Just letting you know as I think your view on the matter would be quite entertaining and it’s just fair to let people know how far and crazy some governments can get, IMO.

BTW, a few months ago I asked if had any info on premiere dates for the SENNA movie, especially in Mexico, don’t know if you remember but I haven’t been able to get this info anywhere apart from the Feb debut at sundance in the US and the summer release in the UK. If you could help us with world wide dates, I think people all over the world that follow your blog would be very thankful.

Anyway, thanks for your time! 🙂


Slightly off topic, James, do you know when is FIA going to announce the “overtaking areas” on the circuits? (I mean, the points where drivers will be authorised to use the moveable rear wings). Are they going to make an announcement covering all the circuits before the season starts, or will it be announced on a circuit by circuit basis, some days prior to each race?


They will do it on a race by race basis. Post coming up about it shortly


The thing I think bridgestone always didn’t appreciate was that f1 fans are on the whole a knowledgeable and well informed bunch.

What would have damaged their reputation would be if tyres showed as dangerous (ie exploding or lots of issues).

If their tyres degraded quickly/had softer compounds fans wouldn’t suddenly say they made bad tyres.

Hopefully pirelli have a fresh approach, and go for more aggressive tyres that don’t last as long.

I can’t wait to see how the drivers handle tge new fronts. Will a better compound with less life benefit the smoother drivers, will the fronts benefit those who like a more snappy handling car.

We will start to find out in about 11 days or so.

Btw… Martin whitmarsh says the new Macca will invite a lot of discussion. Can’t wait to find out how 🙂


This sort of amuses me.

Here we are talking about the self-styled ‘pinnacle’ where each and every microscopic part is optimized to go flat out, except the tires!

Good tires = bad racing so we want deliberately-designed substandard tires for the ‘spectacle’.

Its a farce.


Well… they cant use turbos, wing cars are banned, no active suspension, no unlimited moveable aero, the fuel must stay in certain tolerances etc. It is all limited, not just tyres.

And this is what it is all about, the challenge of making most out of given circumstances. The rules are same for everyone(theoretically:D).

Lets assume that we have 2 cars built around the same rulebook, except minimum weight, 500kg min for car1 and 600kg for car2. Now when car 1 goes around Monza in 80 seconds and car2 in 81, who would you cheer on?

I think F1 should move even more for making life difficult for the drivers. Even when GP2 or Champcar would come closer in laptimes as a result. Statistics or numbers mean nothing when there is no “substance” behind it. Sweat matters I think.

The same with the tyre suppliers. The worries of people connecting blown Pirelli on F1 car with their road tyres is unjustified. If we can hear some heads of Pirelli saying “Pirelli is not for idiots” then I can say they are ready for Formula 1.


F1 is not looking for substandard tyres… Pirreli is making a faster tyre which in turn brings about higher degredation… Brigstone was very conservative with their compounds for 2010 (full tanks).

Im sure people realise that to construct a ‘soft’ tyre that last all but a full race distance, you have to go conservative. Thats what i call i ‘deliberately-designed substantial tyre’.

F1 needs a race tyre. Bridgetone didnt do that, and Pirrali are listening.


The Pirelli trade-off is fascinating.

On the one hand, they want to introduce a compound that will lead to more exciting racing which will bring with it more pit stops etc.

However, if the tyres wear down quickly then Pirelli won’t want people to interpret this as they’re tyres being much weaker to the masses in comparison to


I will be intrigued to see if Button manages the Pirellis as good as he did the Bridgestones, or if they will suit Hamiltons aggressive driving style


I think that the majority of F1 fans are intelligent and will be able to appreciate that the tyres Pirelli develop for F1 share very little other than colour and being round with the tyres they put on their car!!


Personally, I think we should forget about bridgestone and look forward to the new tyre supplier. Comparing them would be pointless now cause they are gone 🙂


I think you’re right – its fascinating. It would make sense for them to make the hards super reliable, which will enable them to sell Pirelli as a quality brand. Then they’ll have to make sure that the softer tyres are much quicker in the short term in order to justify why they don’t last long.


The marketing messages that Pirelli will use this year have already been thoroughly thought through. I hope. Oh, I dearly hope they’ve thought this through!

One angle they might use is: tire wear is faster to serve the sport. And after several races they can show that the quicker wear is very predictable, and that they had planned it that way. See! Pirelli really does know how to make tires.

Of course, very predictable wear will make for less exciting races.

How much do you think drivers will be able to manage the change? I know experience counts, but not as much as some drivers would like.


Interesting to hear how Button might be able to make these tyres last. Lets not forget how many times in wet races he’s chewed straight though the tread…..


With regard to the Pirelli test car, this could be a way around ensuring that young drivers are given plenty of testing time before joining F1. As the chassis is based on a Toyota, none of the current teams would benefit from testing the car, and each team could nominate driver(s) who could have an equal opportunity to test the car. This could be funded jointly by each team, and it would also give us a good idea of the true pace of young drivers, as they’d all be using the same machinery.


Today I see some interesting rumors that Pirelli were asked to “beef up” the front tyres ? The question is : who did that ? Some say it’s Michael … Certainly, I’d prefer better spectacle with less predictable tires.


I don’t think Pedro have the money to drive for HRT. They are looking for a 10 mill paydriver. So the drivers produce 50% of the budget.


That is more like asking for a partnership more than a driver.

at that stage, you add few hundreds of thousands and own 51% of the team.Then fire everybody you do not like……


Hi James,

I think I recall reading one of your pieces while you were at ITV (I think it was in 2008) about the nuances of the top drivers’ particular styles; it was a fascinating read.

In light of what we’re discovering about the Pirellis, it would be brilliant if you could re-visit this in an upcoming post.


Thanks for the idea. I will do that once we get a feel for the way the tyres are working and how the drivers are using them. Please remind me if I’ve not done it by start of April


James, one peice you mentioned you’d do in your 2010 round up (I think) was one on why 2011 won’t be predictable and why the racing won’t be dull…any news on that one yet?


Could someone point me to it, I’ve had a look back through the Archive and I swear I must be going blind as I can’t see it…


I’ve already written that one, as I recall


It’s off topic but I wanted to say it everywhere : I’ve just tasted freedom and I’m proud to be Tunisian


Nigeria also needs to follow the same course of actions you guys did. We need to get rid of our selfish leaders in order to bring Motorsports there 😀


Hi James,

Any chance of giving us a summary of who you think the new tyres may favour/disadvantage aside from Schumacher/Massa?

As ABAD and Paul L mentioned above Alonso used to prefer a rearward weight bias (presumably Kubica has similar preferances since he has a similar driving style?), how does this fit with the balance agreement the teams made relating to the new tires?

I also remember reading that based on his times with Michelin tyres, McLaren would not have given Hamilton a race seat and it was only when he tested on bridgestones that he became competitive. How do you think he will perform with Pirellis and will his harsh tyre usage be an achilles heel this year?

As a complete aside i remember hearing that the Bridgestones blistered particularly badly when following another car, might the switch aid closer followg and as such overtaking?


It is unlikely that the new tyres will affect the pecking order in F1. There was much spouted about the tyres handing an advantage to the likes of Button last year. Narrower front Tyres leaning towards an understeer characteristic and no refueling meaning heavier tyre wear early in the race etc. In reality it never transpired. They’re all top line drivers in the main and can adapt their driving to whatever they’ve got strapped to their backsides. In the end Hamilton proved himself to be every bit as good as Jenson at tyre management. It would be interesting to se a Tortoise vs Hare type scenario but in reality F1 is a sprint to the flag and he who wrestles the car hardest and fastest (without breaking it)shall prevail.


-David McVey

“In the end Hamilton proved himself to be every bit as good as Jenson at tyre management.”

I would cite Australia, Korea, and Abu Dhabi as a few responses to the contrary of your point quoted above. He actually had to pit in Australia because his tires had gone off, he could not challenge Alonso at all in Korea because he turned his last set of inters into slicks gaining 2nd only because of some serious attrition, and finally in Abu Dhabi (although now I am suddenly doubting myself perhaps getting this confused with Korea, so Ill give you a 1 out of 3 on this one) he again shredded his second set of front tires and was aired as repeatedly asking his engineer for another pitstop at the end of the race (again I might have gotten this confused with a different race). Still he proved himself almost certainly NOT as capable as Jenson at preserving tires. Thank you to Bridgestone though, it really only bit him in Australia, a race which Jenson won I might add.


I take your point but you fail to see the bigger picture. Lewis was able to learn enough about tyre management to get the job done and beat his team mate in the process. What’s the point in getting to the end of a race with wonderful fresh tyres and a disappointing points haul, it only means one thing really, you weren’t going quick enough. This was usually self evident in the races where Lewis often finished ahead of Jenson. Lewis clearly was able to balance speed and tyre preservation better than his team mate over the season because he was generally able to go a little quicker and still make the tyres do the job. Ok his tyres may have been totally goosed by the timehe pitted but isn’t that what you should see? If a driver leaves an ounce of performance in the tyre or any other component for that matter, he wasn’t doing his job properly. You don’t push the accelerator half way do you?

I have to say that I detected a little Jenson defensiveness in your tone. I myself am a massive Jenson fan and have been since his F3 days. Believe me, 2009 was an emotional knife edge for me and I was glad when he finally sealed the deal in Brazil because my stress levels started to return to normal. That aside though, you have to be able to recognise when somebody is doing a better job or you’ll never be able to improve your own performance. I think Jenson was up against it at Mclaren this year as his lanky 6’ 1” frame only just squeezed into the car designed for the diminutive Hamilton and everything from layout to engine maps would just have been modified versions of Hamilton’s. Next year, they should be able to incorporate a few more of Jenson’s preferences into the concept of the car so you should hopefully see a more even performance between the team mates. The last thing we want is one to trounce the other, Mclaren need the constructors title, it’s been far too long!


“It is unlikely that the new tyres will affect the pecking order in F1.”

Is there any resource (perhaps one of James’ posts?) that analyzes the effects of the recent tire change? A survey of driver’s opinions would be interesting, if only for fodder for more speculation!


True, for everyone except Felipe Masa!;)


Thanks James! Some questions I was wondering about:

1) Is Pedro contractually restricted to return to McLaren as test/development driver – even if he and McLaren would want it?

2) HRT not being an option.. implies which? Pedro does not want HRT? or he is out of the running for HRT?



To question #2: IMO, Pedro does not want to go to HRT, but – maybe more important – he has not got the money to pay for his seat. HRT is looking only for pay drivers – Mr Carabante said in Spanish media.


Well I think the other HRT seat is a bit of a joke. I read in the German press that the seat was available for anyone who brought in about 30 Million pounds!

May be Pedro has that kind of money and has decided against buying this seat


All you need is a lottery win (and a super licence) and you too could be an F1 driver!


It’s right up there in terms of a great deal with a chocolate fireguard isn’t it.

I wonder who will come up with the cheque required to get the drive..


If the tyres dont hold up as well (and i hope they dont) we could see the likes of Button with their smooth driving styles having an advantage as some point in the race. The possibility for 2 pit stops will make things interesting, the likes of the forementioned Button seeing if their tyres hold (for 1 stop) and the Hamiltons of the grid going hell for leather and replacing the wheels more then once. Should be intesting to see, and *hopefully* make for a better, less predictable stragies from teams.

Its definatley going to take a couple of races to see exactly what the tyres offer at race conditions. Jumping though the first set of races, could see 3 completely different scenarios for the tyres. Bahrain (hot, dry desert) to Australia (could be anything!!) and then Malaysia (Wet again??) Can’t wait!!!


It would be a shame if some of the runners (eg Button) received an advantage for driving carefully. That’s long-distance sportscar, not F1 in my view.


In my view F1 drivers should be the best of all worlds. They should be able to do it all, and those who can drive a little bit faster should be rewarded for that, while those who can make the stratergy work for them should do so too.

I know people who can drive very quickly for a few laps before there tyres die. Let’s put it this way. Who do you think should win

60 lap race

Driver a) can make tyres last for 30 laps

Driver b) can get 3 tenths a lap faster on average compared to driver a but tyres go off after 15 laps.

Ofcourse driver a has more car control and car skill while driver b is the kind of guy you would find at a track day.

I’m not saying that all drivers would be better if they were all skilled at making the car last, but in F1 where everything in put to the limit, both drivers should get a chance, and a race with both types will be way more interesting that with just the one.


I think it would be a shame if some runners locking wheels and in general, driving brainlessly, would not recieve a disadvantage.

F1 should be for the drivers that know how to do it. Driving fast and economically at the same time is a difficult task. Even before the mandatory tyre change era, drivers had to find best way to use their rubber, not just use their throttle and steering like 2 position on/off switches.

Im not afraid at all that races would become like a sportscar endurance, they are going only two hours max after all.

What I dont like about the idea of 2 stops becoming an unavoidable standard, is that drivers responsibility would decrease. The more pitstops, the higher possibility of something going wrong(or mechanics simply working slowly) and it has nothing to do with driving skills. Moreover, if a driver ruins his tyres in the middle of the stint it wouldnt probably be so harmful if he had done so in 2010, with single pitstop standard.


“Driving fast and economically at the same time is a difficult task.”

And to support your point, when people worry about races being boring because of the Pirellis, only a single driver is given as example – Jenson Button!

Changing your driving style is probably as difficult as changing your grip in golf; it takes years of commitment and success isn’t guaranteed. Many drivers complained of the Michelins making for a less “pointy” car. Massa and Schumacher are the most prominent ones who couldn’t make the transition.

Hussein S Lokhandwala

Agreed, maintaining a set of tyres and defending position whilst also saving fuel, albeit skills in their own right, are not what i’m after from the pinnacle of motorsport.


Yes, I mean who wants to see the likes of Alain Prost in this sport…


Agree totally.

The biggest problem with the tyre rules in 2010 wasn’t the rules themselves, but the longevity of the soft-compound, Bridgestone tyres.


I also agree 100% with this.

What I would also like to see, if the tires prove to be less durable than the bridgestones, is the abolishment of the mandatory pitstop. Then you could get some very interesting strategies playing out, particularly at difficult to overtake circuits like Monaco, Hungary, etc…


In my memory, Pirelli Tires were all about performance. So it’s great to see them back in the sport.

While having a less predictable tire on your car is a bad thing, it will make for more exciting races. And that’s a great thing.


Ouch! Miaow, Pedro.. “HRT for me is not an option… I’m trying to find a drive in F1 always, I never give up..”

Just not THAT one!


He said in F1, HRT is GP2 backmarkers lost in the wrong league.


Maybe it’s because he can’t bring in any cash, so he is not being OFFERED the drive.

I doubt he would knock it back, he is hardly being overwhelmed with offers from other teams, is he… 🙂


There were rumours on a well reputed site that the amount if money hrt wanted for the second seat was ridiculous. I understand her need to balance the books but it’s becoming rent a seat…..

Perhaps giovanni lavaggi fancies a comeback.


He probably thinks that there is a high possibility they will fold, or possibly that the car will be so bad that it will hurt his career. It’s hard to look good at the back as you retire from races and crash out because of an ill handling car.


yeah… especially since his performance in the Sauber was so incredible…. thats quite tall talk for coming from someone who had a 50% DNF ratio for only one points finish and got booted before the season was out

beggars can’t be choosers my friend


James, is the stronger front tyre liable to disadvantage anyone?
They used to say Alonso liked a stronger rear tyre in the Michelin days.


There is no doubt that it will disadvantage some and will help others. Jensen Button prefers a bit more understeer tending than oversteery car. A more balanced set out car rather than a point and let the back come around style. I doubt he’ll like it.

Alonso accoridng to what you said may not like it either.

Schumacher should enjoy it, and Massa should love it.

Vettel/Webber are similiar. Webber did better this year in quali with the narrower front tyres but has said publicly that it was more the quali with race fuel that he didn’t like and that was what has helped this year (fueling ban).

THen you have to look at the drop off. While Jensen Button may not like the driving characteristics of it, Hamilton has been known to destroy tyres, remember China 07 I think where he completely destroyed. He has gone through them quite heavily before. Jensen Button while missing speed may score easy overtakes with the wing and then be able to run a 1 stop rather than 2 stop stratergy hence saving about 30 seconds in there, which if he was about half a second slower (quite a lot) than hamilton in speed terms would make him = hamilton by the end. (probably better as he would get the extra speed down the straights, but then would have to deal with traffic).

Webber and Vettel both have shown that they can hold onto tyres, Webber more than Vettel. Vettel did so at Monza taking new tyres at the last lap (although Monza not being that bad on tyres), while Webber managed to hold race hard at the start, hold onto the back of Alonso, stay behind the saftey and then pull out a 25 second gap in not that many laps in Hungary!


The data around the front tyres would explain why Alonso and Kubica said they´ll have to change the driving style once more, like the did into the Michelin-Bridgestone transition.

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