This year's compounds are generally softer and faster than their predecessors, but two to three pit stops are still expected per car on race day. Melbourne – which has opened the Formula One season since 1996 – is a semi-permanent facility that is well-known for its low levels of grip, which gradually improve over the course of the weekend as the surface rubbers in.
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PIRELLI'S MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR SAYS: Paul Hembery: "After 12 days of pre-season testing we finally get to go racing with our 2013 compounds. They were developed over the course of the last season in private testing and they are the most focused and performance-orientated tires we have ever made. Cold weather conditions during pre-season testing meant that we weren't able to showcase them to the best of their abilities, but we are expecting a different story in Albert Park, with two to three pit stops per car.
"The start of any new season is always a very exciting time and from what we have observed during pre-season testing the field seems to be closer than ever: quite an achievement when you consider that we had seven different winners from the first seven races last year. All the compounds and constructions have changed for 2013, and the drivers should notice a wider working range and a bigger window of peak performance. The performance gaps between the compounds are also larger, which means that teams have a greater opportunity to use strategy to their advantage by exploiting the consequent speed differentials."
PIRELLI'S BRAND AMBASSADOR SAYS: Jean Alesi: "I'm delighted to become Pirelli's brand ambassador at the start of what should be an extremely exciting season: especially if last year is anything to judge by. Albert Park was a circuit that I enjoyed as a driver – I competed there from its debut year after the grand prix moved from Adelaide – but it's really not typical of anywhere else. You have some bits that are similar to a street circuit like Monaco and other places that are more like a permanent track such as Barcelona. So I probably wouldn't read too much into the results from Melbourne, as it is so atypical of anywhere else and also because at the start of the season the teams are still learning a lot about their new cars and tires. The tires this year seem very interesting and in qualifying in particular I think a really attacking driver should be able to do something quite special. I would definitely have liked to use these tires when I was driving!"
THE TIRE FROM A CIRCUIT POINT OF VIEW:
• With all the compounds having become softer this year, the medium and the supersoft were chosen in Australia to give the teams a challenge in terms of tire management and strategy, in accordance with Pirelli's brief from the teams themselves and Formula One's promoters.
• The P Zero White medium tire is ideal for circuits with lower ambient temperatures and not particularly aggressive asphalt, such as Melbourne. Its durability characteristics are very similar to those of last year's soft tire, resulting in lap times that are around 0.8s quicker than the 2012-specification medium.
• The P Zero Red supersoft has been designed to come up to temperature quickly and it is ideal when it comes to delivering maximum performance instantly on a twisty and slow-speed circuit.
• Last year, the medium and soft compounds were chosen for the Australian Grand Prix, with the top seven drivers adopting a two-stop strategy.
• Further information on Albert Park and the demands it places on tires can be found on a 3D animated video that is copyright-free for media use on Pirelli's Formula One website: www.pirelli.com/f1pressarea
TECHNICAL TIRE NOTES:
• Acceleration and braking are the keys to a good performance in Melbourne, with the longitudinal forces at work on the tires being greater than the lateral forces. The improved combined traction of the P Zero tires this year marks a significant step forward in this area.
• Melbourne has hosted a number of wet races in the past: last year's Friday's free practice sessions were held in wet weather. Pirelli is bringing a new-specification of Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tire to Australia, which has a redesigned construction to help improve traction and prevent snap oversteer.
• The left-rear tire works hardest in Melbourne, with 10 right-hand corners and six left-hand corners.
• The 5.303-kilometre Albert Park circuit is not used outside of the Australian Grand Prix, which means that it is extremely 'green' and slippery on Friday in particular. But the faster warm-up time of Pirelli's 2013 tires should help drivers find grip more quickly.
THE TIRE CHOICES SO FAR:
PZero Red PZero Yellow PZero White PZero Orange
Australia Supersoft Medium
MEET THE PIRELLI F1 TEAM: PAUL HEMBERY, MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR
Paul, an Englishman in Milan, takes overall responsibility for all of Pirelli's motorsport programs. These range from Formula One to GP2, GP3, GT, rally and one-make championships: more than 250 different series worldwide in total, which are split between single-make tire supplies (like Formula One) and open tire competition. Paul's role ranges from representing Pirelli at press conferences and other corporate functions to negotiating commercial agreements and defining future strategy. He divides his time between Milan and his home in England, but is most often found travelling around the world at a wide variety of motorsport events. In his rare moments of free time he enjoys supporting his beloved football team – Bristol City FC – driving classic cars, listening to Italian opera, and impersonating his alter ego, British comedian Ricky Gervais.
PIRELLI IN AUSTRALIA:
• Pirelli has been present in Australia since 1971. The company is based in Sydney, employing more than 30 full-time staff.
• Pirelli's results throughout 2012 in Australia have recorded a year on year growth of 8.3% in total sales and 45% in the premium segment.
• Australian models have frequently featured in the world-renowned Pirelli calendar. In 2010, Miranda Kerr from Sydney, Catherine McNeil from Brisbane and Abbey Lee Kershaw from Melbourne all starred in the calendar.
• Pirelli Australia is also the official supplier for the 2013 Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup Australia.
OTHER NEWS FROM PIRELLI:
• The latest GP2 test of the season – the Formula One feeder series that is also supplied by Pirelli – ended in Barcelona the week before the Australian Grand Prix. Rapax driver Stefano Coletti was fastest with a time of 1m29.055s on the latest generation of Pirelli's GP2 tires.
• The GP3 Series, equipped by Pirelli, has also embarked on its pre-season testing programme with a brand new car for this year. At the latest test in Estoril, Carlos Sainz Junior went fastest with a time of 1m26.816s, again on the latest Pirelli tires.
• In fact, it's been a successful few weeks for the Sainz family and Pirelli. Carlos Sainz Senior, a two-time world rally champion who won both his titles in 1990 and 1992 on Pirelli tires, won the Rallye de Espana Historico in a Porsche 911 equipped with the Pirelli P7 Corsa Classic: a historic rally tire that combines modern technology with a classic design.
• Pirelli showcased some of its latest road car products at the Geneva Motor Show, which took place in Switzerland the week leading up to the Australian Grand Prix. Bespoke P Zero tires for the latest Ferrari – the successor to the Enzo – were presented, along with unique P Zero products for the Lamborghini Aventador, Maserati Quattroporte and McLaren P1.
From Orazio Mastracchio – Canada PR Manager