Formula One’s sole tyre manufacturer Pirelli continued its intensive 18-inch tyre testing programme today at the Hungaroring with Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes trying out the Milan-based supplier’s 2022 products.
Just two days after the incident-filled, challenging, damp and hot Hungarian Grand Prix, the 4.3km twisty and narrow layout of the Hungaroring was in use again as the time ticks down when Pirelli needs to homologate its all-new 18-inch tyres.
The Italian tyre manufacturer is set to debut an entirely new product, a low-profile, 18-inch tyres. It’s the size of the rim that changes, adding five inches to the diameter that has held sway in grand prix racing since the 1960s.
The brand-new P Zero F1 tyre has the same tread width as before (305 millimetres at the front and 405 millimetres at the rear) but a slightly bigger overall diameter, which grows from 660 millimetres to 720 millimetres. The most significant change is a reduction in the sidewall, which now resembles that of the low-profile Pirelli tyres that for years have been the preferred choice of the world’s leading performance road cars.
Pirelli hopes that this new profile will change the behaviour of the Formula 1 cars on track, making them more precise when changing direction. Furthermore, the the lower sidewall means that it will have less impact on the overall aerodynamics of the car.
Theoretically, the new tyres should have made their debut at the start of the current season, but the coronavirus pandemic forced Pirelli to change its plans as the tests planned for last year could not take place. Instead, the Italian company came up with an intensive test schedule for 2020 which incorporated a total of 30 days of dry and wet runnings. Pirelli asked each of the ten F1 teams to take part in the preparation, but Williams refused to do that, which was a decision possibly taken due to the costs that the build of a mule car requires.
After testing at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, Pirelli have today continued its on-track testing of its 18-inch tyres.
Ferrari was the only team to work with two drivers. The two-time grand prix winner Charles Leclerc was behind th wheel of the modified Ferrari F1 car in the morning, racking up a total of 91 laps. After the lunch break, his team mate Carlos Sainz took over the car with the Spaniard adding a further 82 laps in the afternoon to give Ferrari a whopping 173 laps today.
Tyre testing at the @HungaroringF1 for the #Fit4F1 2022 18-inch P Zero covers is over! @Carlossainz55 completed a total of 82 laps in the afternoon, to give @ScuderiaFerrari a total of 173 laps today. @F1 @fia pic.twitter.com/LuklTlH57U
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) August 3, 2021
Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton refused to stay at the Hungaroring, so the defending champion team worked with Williams racer George Russell. The King’s Lynn-born driver notched up 66 laps in the morning, bringing his total to 137 laps when the test concluded.
After his ill-fated Hungarian Grand Prix, Lando Norris was eager to help Pirelli and his team to prepare themselves in the most effective way for the radically new 2022 technical regulations. The Briton, who retired on Sunday due to the first corner pile-up induced by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, completed 63 laps in the morning, adding a further 59 laps in the afternoon.
Ferrari and Mercedes ended their running today with the two teams set to kick off their two-week summer holiday. However, the Hungaroring will not fall silent as McLaren is due to continue the work with Pirelli as Daniel Ricciardo takes over the mule MCL35M from Lando Norris.
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