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Cracking the barcode

In the first of a series of features, Pirelli looks at how tyres are made and distributed to the F1 teams...

Pirelli brings around 1800 tyres to each grand prix, but the destiny of these tyres is mapped out long before they arrive at the circuit. The tyres for each race are made in a specific production run before the grand prix.

They are manufactured at Pirelli's state of the art motorsport facility in Izmit, just outside the Turkish capital of Istanbul. During the production process, each tyre is allocated a barcode provided by the FIA (the sport's governing body). This barcode is the tyre's 'passport', which is embedded firmly into the structure during the vulcanisation process and cannot be swapped. The code contains all the details of each tyre, making it traceable throughout the race weekend with Pirelli's RTS (Racing Tyre System) software, which can read and update all the data.

For European grand's prix, the tyres are then transported to Pirelli's logistics and distribution hub at Didcot in the United Kingdom. Once they arrive there, an FIA official receives a list of bar codes, which relate to the tyres that will be taken to the next grand prix. The FIA then allocates bar codes – and therefore tyres – to each individual teams at random. Pirelli itself is not involved in this process at all, meaning that the Italian firm cannot influence which tyres are allocated to which teams – although a rigorous quality control process in Izmit ensures that all the tyres leaving the factory are identical.

Once at the circuit, the tyres are then allocated to the teams in strict compliance with the list that has been previously prepared by the FIA. The bar codes allow both the FIA and Pirelli to ensure that the right teams, according to the regulations, are using the correct tyres.

Each team is allocated a Pirelli engineer, who works exclusively with that team for all of the year, but the database that every engineer works off allows the engineer to see only information relating specifically to his or her team over the weekend, so that individual strategies are not compromised. Development data is overseen by Pirelli's senior engineers, who monitor all the information in order to assist the research team in charge of shaping the next generation of tyres.

As Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery points out: “Even if we wanted to – which we certainly don't – there is no way that we could influence which tyres are being allocated to which teams, as this is a job taken care of entirely by the FIA once the tyres have left the Izmit factory. It is just another way that impartiality can be ensured among all the teams, which is a huge priority for us as exclusive tyre supplier. The way that our team engineers work also respects this confidentiality, which is always of paramount importance.”

Countdown to a grand prix

Before the grand prix:

*Pirelli, with the approval from the FIA, selects the tyres for the race – a softer compound plus a harder compound.

*Production of the tyre allocation begins at the Izmit factory in Turkey. We supply approximately 1800 F1 tyres for each race; about 700 more if the race is a GP2 round as well as 600 for GP3.

Two weeks before the grand prix:

*For European events the tyres for the race are transported by road from Izmit to Didcot: a journey of approximately 3100 kilometres that takes three days.

*The tyres arrive at the Didcot facility and have their bar codes scanned into Pirelli's system. The FIA (the governing body of world motorsport) is then notified of the bar codes.

Tagged as: FIA , Pirelli , tyres , barcode , Paul Hembery , Hembery

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
10.05.2012- Pirelli Tyres
10.05.2012- Pirelli Tyres
21.04.2012- Free Practice 3, Pirelli Tyre
14.02.2012 - Free practice 3, Pirelli Tyres
13.04.2012 - Pirelli Tyres
13.04.2012 - Free practice 2, Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorspor Director and Mario Isola (ITA), Sporting Director Pirelli
12.04.2012 Pirelli Tyres Atmosphere

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thescarab - Unregistered

May 16, 2012 11:36 AM

I do think that inspite of the great work and effort put in by Pirelli, a second tyre supplier is the way forward to add the extra spice to the mix. Michael Schumacher has a point regarding the present tyre management that has to be adopted to preserve the wear and useage. You only need to look now at what happens in Q3 ! Its becoming farcical as teams opt not to put in a timed run just to preserve tyres. Is this really racing as it should be .......

kooper - Unregistered

May 16, 2012 10:31 AM
Last Edited 402 days ago

Very interesting article. I have nothing of value to add, but I'm going to do what I usually don't: I'm sorry for doing this, but it's been a busy day for me so far and I just need something to distract myself with for a couple of seconds. Chances are I might be completely incorrect about this in any event. Grand Prix means "Big Prize"? So "grand's prix" translates to "Big's Prize"? So the Prize belongs to some bloke called Big. Should it be "grands prix" rather? Again, I'm just being anal for the sake of some brief distraction. If I'm way off the mark, please just ignore I said anything.

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