Pirelli's Formula One adventure II

After 33 days of testing (15 at official tests and 18 in private testing) Pirelli's Formula One adventure is finally about to get underway. The Formula One action starts this weekend in the same country where it ended for Pirelli exactly 19 years, four months and 24 days earlier, at the 1991 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide - which was red-flagged after just 14 laps due to torrential rain and remains the shortest Formula One race to date.
This year, the race is being held in Melbourne's Albert Park for the 16th consecutive year, and marks race one of Pirelli's three-season agreement with the FIA, the governing body of world motorsport. But there is likely to be just as much drama in Melbourne as there was last time in Adelaide.
Pirelli's new PZero rubber is designed to help promote overtaking, both on the track and in the pits, while KERS makes a return and the moveable rear wing is also introduced. The hard and the soft compounds will be brought to Australia, with the soft tires providing plenty of speed and grip while the hard tires are more biased towards durability.

Weather conditions are likely to be different to what was experienced so far in testing, which is why the teams will be given an extra set of prime tires for use during Friday free practice, bringing their total allocation up to 12 sets of dry-weather tires over the course of the weekend and allowing them to run more laps in free practice to finalise the set-up.

Pirelli's Motorsport Director:

Paul Hembery: "This is the moment that we've been building up to for more than a year now and it's very exciting for all of us. Our tires this year are designed to be different to what we have seen before in Formula One, but I think all the teams have managed to gather some useful information about them in testing. We're aiming for between two and three pit stops in Australia, which in some ways is against our company DNA as our road car tires are designed to be as durable as possible.

But Formula One is a very different case, because our remit from the teams and promoter was to provide entertainment. With that in mind, we're just keen to get going now and it will be fascinating to see exactly how the drivers and teams are going to use our tires to employ different strategies during the race. We've noticed a few differences between the teams already in testing, and it's going to be very interesting to find out exactly how that translates into a race situation."

With Pirelli embarking on the first season of a three-year agreement to supply Formula One tires to all the teams, the company has revealed the colors that will be used to distinguish the six different types of tire to be used throughout the season.

In order to tell the six tires apart, each will carry its own distinct coloring on the Pirelli and P Zero logos on the sidewall.
Under the sport's rules, only two compounds of slick tire – known as the prime and the option – will be used for each race. In addition to this, intermediate and wet tires can be fitted if it rains.

The colors will enable viewers to tell instantly not only which is the prime and the option tire, but also exactly which type of tire is fitted to each car.
    The six colors are as follows:
  • Wet - orange
  • Intermediate - light blue
  • Supersoft - red
  • Soft - yellow
  • Medium - white
  • Hard - silver
The wet tire is used in case of heavy rain, while the intermediate is for a damp or drying track. The supersoft provides plenty of speed at the expense of durability, while the soft tire lasts a bit longer but is still more biased towards performance. The medium tire is a balanced compromise, and the hard tire is the most durable of all.

In order to make the difference between the prime and option tires more pronounced, Pirelli's strategy is to offer a step of at least one compound between the tires nominated for each race. If the track conditions require it, though, this strategy may be revised. The prime and option tires for the first three grands prix of the year – Australia, Malaysia and China – will be hard and soft compounds, meaning that silver and yellow tires will be first to make an appearance in Melbourne.

Pirelli is no stranger to brightly-colored tires: when the Italian firm was previously involved in Formula One, the Benetton team was supplied with multi-colored rubber to run as part of their "United Colors" campaign back in 1986.
The opening race of the 2011 Formula One season, the Australian Grand Prix, takes place at Albert Park in Melbourne on March 27 with 24 Pirelli-equipped cars lined up to take the start.