Pirelli Shines at Montreal Grand Prix

Pirelli Shines at Montreal Grand Prix
Our hosts for this unforgettable weekend; Roberto Pietro and Marco Crola from Pirelli Canada and North America. (Photos and video: Michel Beaunoyer)

Italian Tire manufacturer, Pirelli invited TireNews to partake in the excitement and glamour of the 2019 Pirelli Grand Prix du Canada which took place June 8th and 9th .

The exquisite summer weather, vibrant, colourful crowd and incredible setting contributed to making the TireNews visit a truly memorable experience. Not only did it offer the possibility of experiencing the race as insiders, we also discovered the underbelly of the refined setting of this world-class event which attracts racing enthusiasts from across the globe.

The Pirelli colours were prominently displayed around the entire circuit Gilles Villeneuve racecourse, located on Montreal’s Île Notre-Dame.
During the race, tire changes can make all the difference, which is reflected in the incredible proficiency of pit crew members.
Technicians applying the final touches to the vehicle, including the installation of the tires selected by team engineers for the upcoming race.
Teams were allowed to choose among three types of tires on this rainless day. Intermediate tires are pictured here.
Tire compounds are colour-coded. A soft compound tire is pictured here.
Drivers must then manage the race by trying to limit the number of pit stops.
A test driver provided insight as to the differences between the three types of tires available for race weekend.
A variety of thrilling activities awaited Pirelli’s guests, including a lap around the racing circuit aboard an exotic vehicle.
Denis Desharnais and his wife, Paule Bergeron, took full advantage of the exceptional weather conditions which prevailed throughout the two-day event.
Louise Lévesque and André Touchette also appreciated the incredible hospitality of the Pirelli team.
Canadian Formula One driver, Lance Stroll, took a few minutes to deliver his prognosis before the start of the race.
Pirelli’s guests received a red carpet treatment befitting the Oscars.
Roberto Pietro and Marco Crola, from Pirelli, alongside TireNews Senior Editor-in-Chief, Michel Beaunoyer. The two Pirelli officials were remarkably generous and thoughtful throughout the event.
A family-type atmosphere prevailed in the paddock. Pictured here: Denis Desharnais, Robert Thibodeau, Pierre Anthony, Robin Meany and Patrick Labrecque.
To top it all off, guests were treated to an unforgettable gourmet meal experience.
Pirelli’s guests had access to the all-new paddocks.
VIP guests experienced a full lap around the circuit just minutes before the start of the race.
Anthony Picock, from Pirelli, explaining the different types of tires available for the race to TireNews.
The vast Pirelli facility was equipped with high-tech equipment capable of mounting the 1800 tires required for the running of this Formula One event.
As our guide explained, adhesive wheel weights, like those found in every tire centre, are used to balance the racing car wheels.
The barcode, located at the top of the tire, is used for tracking right up until the moment it hits the track.
Tire management is an exact science, in particular when it comes to maintaining the ideal temperature required to benefit from their full potential.
Pirelli North America CEO, Marco Crola, personally handing the Constructors' Championship trophy to the Mercedes team.
Louis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc on the winner’s podium.

 

Since 2011, Pirelli is the main, and only supplier, of Formula One tires. This requires the tire manufacturer to develop and produce 1800 tires for F1 teams for each event. Tire preparation, which is closely supervised by F1 officials, is performed in a vast facility adjacent to the F1 team garages. To our surprise, Tire News discovered that these smooth and sticky slicks are mounted just like regular car tires, including the adhesive weights used for balancing. Each tire has its personalized barcode to prevent confusion or cheating while allowing them to be located at all times.

“Next, the teams proceed with tire selection,” explains Anthony Picock, from Pirelli, our guide for this behind-the-scenes tour. “The teams are required to choose among three tire compounds, from soft to firm. The selection is based on track conditions, vehicle set-up and driver preferences. As the track was slippery at the beginning of the race, a majority of teams opted for the softest compound, but as the race evolved, teams switched to a harder compound to improve durability.”

There’s a lot of science involved in selecting tires. While specific criteria applies to each of the four wheels in order to try and gain a competitive edge, explained the expert, in some cases they are designed to cool the brakes on days when track temperature is high.

While Pirelli invests colossal sums in research and development for all of its products, a significant portion of the budget is applied to F1 tires, as this racing series offers a high level of visibility which allows them to showcase their technology and know-how.

“Formula One gives us the opportunity to market our capacity to continually push the tire technology envelope,” explained Pirelli North America CEO, Marco Crola, to Tire News. “Our brand image is strong, it is recognized worldwide, and Formula One allows us to showcase our values in the core areas of technology, innovation, quality service and product reliability.”

As Marco Crola explained, 25% of its tire sales are of the original equipment variety on luxury and exotic vehicles. Most of the tires sold trough this channel are delivered to Prestige segment, a market that Pirelli controls at 50% and to the Premium segment in witch it has a 20% share. “ Replacement market represents a challenge that we have to answer by considering the specificities of every country we do business with. For this reason, in the north-american market, we have the winter-certified tires or, more recently, the addition to our catalogue of specific tires for SUV and pick-up trucks.

For Pirelli Canada President, Roberto Prieto, in no way does this ability to adapt detract from the brand’s prestige. He points out that, while Pirelli is the world’s 5th leading tire supplier, it distinguishes itself by the colossal sums it invests in research and development.

By working closely with vehicle manufacturers, Pirelli differentiates itself and is able to offer high-end products featuring the latest technology. Both Pirelli Directors spoke about the example of their new CyberTyre family of “intelligent” tires and the important role they will play in the development of safer vehicles. “Tires provide the only point of contact between vehicle and road,” he summarizes. “They have the ability to enhance driving aide technology by sharing important data with the vehicle, such as road surface conditions.”

Prestigious Event

Pirelli invited 120 guests to experience the F1 race and participate in a remarkable number of events directly in the new, exclusive, paddock area. Red carpet welcome, refined atmosphere and gourmet food were accompanied by exclusive activities and opportunities to meet with leading F1 team representatives and drivers. Important Pirelli clients rubbed elbows with large dealer group representatives and major distributors from across North America. As you will see in these images, Canada was well represented, as all of these people, united by their interest in tires, shared a truly unforgettable experience.

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