Pirelli set for 2022 Motorsport season

Formula 1 is moving from the 13 inch to the 18 inch Pirelli tyres for the 2022 season. Pirelli say they are confident that the new tyres work well with the new Aerodynamic package for the season. Pirelli are also pushing forward with new products for the WRC and GT championships

During a press conference Mario Isola, Head of Motorsport at Pirelli, explained “this year’s motorsport season marks a turning point for us. We have new products for all our major championships, starting with Formula 1, which reinforce the close links with our road car product. We’re also continuing our mission for increasingly sustainable motorsport, in line with our company strategy, having been awarded an important environmental certification from the FIA at the end of last year.”

Formula 1

When considering the design of the tyres Isola said “Formula 1 drivers had wished they had tires that were less prone to overheating and less degrading. With our new design we have achieved these goals, as was proven in the post-season tests in Abu Dhabi.”

Courtesy of Pirelli

The tests were done with converted 2019 cars meaning the tyres haven’t been tested using the 2022 aerodynamics on track however Isola is positive “over the year we will develop further with all 10 teams, which is important because we make a base tyre for all teams not just for the top team or bottom team.”

The idea is that the drivers can push harder and get closer to the car in front when the tyres are factored into the new aerodynamic regulations. When asked if he was worried about less strategic variability with more durable tyres he replied: “I hope we don’t have less strategic variabilities because the way we have designed the tyre we hope to continue to have different strategies. However, with less degradation it is possible to have less pitstops, but as I always say for me it is not an issue as long as we have good races and action on track.”

Courtesy of Pirelli

WRC

Pirelli have been apart of rallying since 1973, being a part of change in technology including the introduction of hybrid cars for 2022. Terenzio Testoni, Rally Activity Manager for Pirelli, said that “the hybrid cars are heavier and have a change in performance which we considered when designing the 2022 tyre”.

Testing for the tyre has been held throughout 2021 but with the Monte-Carlo round coming soon there will be plenty of time to develop the tyres further. They will however include a reinforce structure and improved studs for the ice tyres.

Sébastien Loeb (FRA) performs during WRC Msport test in Alpens. (Courtesy of Red Bull content Pool)

GT Racing

Formula 1 is not the only series switching to 18 inch tyres. GT Racing are moving from 16 inches to come closer to road car technologies, making the transfer of knowledge and skill easier.

The new range of tyres are the P Zero DHF and will be used in every class, GT2, GT3 and GT4. These tyres are designed to increase performance, be more versatile and improve the balance between the front and rear tyres due to a new family of materials used for construction.

Sustainability in Motorsport

Sustainability was a key focus within the press conference. Robert Reid, the FIA Deputy President for Sport stated that “ sustainability is very important, especially because motorsport is not considered good for the environment so we have to do everything we can.”

He continued: “The FIA has its target to be net zero carbon by 2030 and were declared carbon neutral at the end of 2021. To help our members we have our accreditation of one, two or 3 stars based on basic, good or best practice in sustainability. We currently have 70 members with one, two or three star ratings”

These accreditation’s are set to become mandatory in the future to help motorsport do all it can to become sustainable. Pirelli has a 3 star accreditation meaning they use the best practices, Isola explained “we had to look at everything, the logistics, materials. We have not used single used plastic for the last 2 years and the 2022 team kit is made from recycled materials”.

Courtesy of Pirelli

With sustainability in mind Pirelli are set for the 2022 season of big changes and development throughout. For each championship the tyres are a key part of the vehicle set up and performance on track. It is also important that the drivers feel confident they can push hard without the tyres running out of grip. This is why Pirelli have worked with teams and drivers of all the championships to develop these 2022 tyres.

GT World Challenge to pioneer initiative integrating real-world and virtual racing

It was announced yesterday that the SRO Motorsports Group – the promoter of the GT World Challenge – will be forming a partnership with sim-racing hardware developers Fanatec, who provide the wheels for all the drivers in the F1 Esports Series. Fanatec will become the title sponsor for the GT World Challenge (across all regions) as well as this year’s new GT2 European Series.

However, the main announcement was a revolutionary, world first amalgamation of both real-world and virtual racing. At all five rounds of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup including the flagship 24 hours of Spa, there will also be a designated zone in the paddock for simulators with the official GT World Challenge game Assetto Corsa Competizione.

The teams that compete in the Pro Cup and Silver Cup classes will nominate a driver within their line-up to compete in a race that will count towards points in the team’s championship. Thus making the GTWCE Endurance Cup the first series to have virtual racing count for points in a real-world racing series.

Image courtesy of Assetto Corsa Competizione gameplay

Last year during the halt on real world racing, both professional and sim drivers competed in their own championships. SRO ran its own GT E-Sport Series in which F2 driver Louis Delétraz won over McLaren factory driver Ben Barnicoat. However the races they did were not then counted for points towards the real-world racing that returned later that year, this is a world first to see virtual racing count towards a championship in real world motorsport.

But it’s not like it hasn’t been attempted before. After the success of the Las Vegas eRace in which sim drivers competed against full-time Formula E drivers in a standalone race, Formula E were evaluating whether to have a sim race to replace a cancelled ePrix and have it count towards the championship. There was also potentially some suggestion of some sim races making up a part of the NASCAR Euro Series schedule, but the idea of doing that is not an extremely popular one amongst drivers and fans alike.

Will it work?

I love sim racing and as much as I love seeing the barriers between the two be broken down, it’s definitely a different ballpark from real-world racing and I don’t think it’s a good idea to combine them together if it means the drivers are obligated to do both. I’d personally opt to keep them separate so no one driver is disadvantaged in the sim racing side that would negatively impact their chances in the real-racing championship.

There is a vastly different set of skills needed to succeed in Esports racing and the fact now that there is a chance that a real-world racing championship can be decided by points from a sim race is very conflicting to me. All I can say is, I’m glad it’s only towards the team’s championship and not the driver’s championship.

Image courtesy of Assetto Corsa Competizione gameplay

It does seem to be a bit of a missed opportunity that instead of the real world drivers doing these races, that the manufacturers and teams don’t instead have a sim driver compete for them. At the very least, a professional driver and a sim driver could share the driving duties, like maybe reigning GTWCE Endurance Cup champion Alessandro Pier Guidi could swap out the virtual Ferrari 488 he’s driving halfway through a race with, for example, 2019 F1 Esports champion David Tonizza.

A bit like what Tonizza and his many F1 Esports counterparts will be doing when the F1 Virtual Grand Prix series returns at the end of this month. That being where the Esports racers will do a five-lap qualification race to decide the grid, and then hand it to the F1 drivers and other competitors racing in the VGP itself.

What I’m saying is, the concept could certainly have been executed much worse. But in the end, I feel rather conflicted because I love seeing the Esports racing side being embraced but having the real world drivers compete for points that will end up affecting the real-world racing championship, it’ll certainly be a challenge for a lot of them, that’s for sure. But I’m still not sure exactly how to feel about this.

For better or for worse, this will certainly be an interesting experiment but I certainly hope it doesn’t become the norm. Nevertheless I’ll be watching when this format takes shape, which will be at the opening round of the GTWCE Endurance Cup at Monza on the weekend of April 18th.

Feature image courtesy of SRO / Patrick Hecq Photography