Pirelli has announced that it will finally call its medium compound F1 tyre into action in the same week as chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera declared that the company was ready for a long-term involvement in the top flight.
Pirelli replaced Bridgestone as the sole provider of tyres in F1 at short notice in time for the start of the 2011 season, and will be paid E1.25m annually by each of the twelve teams for the next three campaigns. Tronchetti is hoping that Pirelli's involvement in F1 will help to boost sales in key markets around the world, with India debuting on the race calendar this season and circuits in America and Russia set to be introduced in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
“It is a long-term project if it's affordable,” the Italian told Reuters
, “It is always depending on costs. We left [in 1991] because of the cost, we came back because it was affordable and we will continue to stay if the teams are providing us the opportunity to stay. I think the experience we are making makes us more comfortable in staying in, and then it depends on costs.”
Even though Pirelli appears to be the only contender for a role in F1 at the moment, Tronchetti said that the company would not be opposed to competition between suppliers if the FIA allows it.
“It is easier in a sense because to produce tyres for a few teams you can make the fine tuning with each of them,” he noted, “We were asked to create more emotions and we did it, with safe tyres lasting enough but not too much, which is really very difficult. We reached the target, which is more difficult to build tyres that last for the entire grand prix. The tyres perform well. What we did in nine months proved that we are ready to do anything.”
The abrasive surface at Istanbul Park, combined with relatively warm temperatures and the exceptionally demanding turn eight, made Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix one of the most severe tracks, in terms of tyre wear, that Pirelli will face all year. However, despite the extreme circumstances, the tyres stood up well to the challenge, although most drivers opted to make four stops during the 58-lap event.
“We obviously develop tyres that have to suit 20 different circuits this year, and the demands of turn eight in particular mean that Istanbul Park is definitely at the upper limit of what we are working with in terms of tyre wear," motorsport director Paul Hembery said, "So we're pleased that the tyres stood up to the challenge so well, giving the teams plenty of scope to utilise different strategies.
"We actually thought that [Sebastian] Vettel could have won the race with three stops, but the comparatively short pit-lane layout in Istanbul meant that the performance advantage of an extra stop outweighed the 20 seconds or so spent in the pit-lane. With the pace he had, Vettel could afford an extra stop, and that was clearly the decision taken by plenty of other teams as well.”
Pirelli also used the Istanbul weekend to reveal the tyre compounds it will take to the grands prix of Canada, Europe and Great Britain, with the as yet unused medium option finally making its bow.