Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing weren't the only ones celebrating at the close of the F1 2012 season in Brazil last week. Despite not winning the race, the German secured his third-consecutive world title at Interlagos, becoming the youngest ever F1 driver to do so. That feat was made all the more symbolic as the race marked a final appearance in the sport for Michael Schumacher, the compatriot who Vettel has sought to emulate.
Aside from his personal success and that of Red Bull Racing – which once again took the constructors' title – 2012 has also been an incredibly successful one for Pirelli, which enjoyed its second season as the sport's exclusive tyre supplier. In the last two years, tyre management has been credited with adding extra excitement to the races, as drivers undertake different strategies to get the most out of their compounds and minimise the required number of pit stops.
Pirelli in F1
To wrap up the season, the Italian manufacturer has published some interesting stats about its Pirelli tyres; including the fact that a total of 31,800 race tyres were provided for 2012, of which 22,500 were dry, 9,300 were wet and 6,600 were used for testing. Of these tyres, 25 per cent were soft and six per cent were supersoft, while 21 per cent were medium, 17 per cent hard and 18 per cent intermediate. Of the remaining tyres, 11 per cent were wet and the final two per cent were the development tyres used in testing.
In total, 21,400 of the dry tyres and 2,100 of the wet tyres were used. While regular car tyres are expected to last for tens of thousands of kilometers before becoming worn and requiring replacement, Pirelli noted that the average life span of dry compound F1 tyres was 180 km in 2012, while wet tyres typically only lasted 140km. It also boasted that all 31,800 tyres used during the season and 6,600 test tyres had been recycled.
Some more interesting stats: Great Britain was the shortest race of the year, clocking in at one hour and 25 minutes, while Malaysia was the longest at two hours and 44 minutes. Kamui Kobayashi ran the most laps on Pirelli's hard tyres (798); while Bruno Senna used mediums the most (869 laps); Daniel Ricciardo favoured the softs (1,012); and Kimi Raikkonen the supersofts (237). Fernando Alonso, who ultimately came second to Vettel, ran the most laps of any driver on the intermediate tyres (145).
The highest top speed reached by a P Zero F1 tyre was 248.241 kmph, a speed set by Lewis Hamilton of McLaren during qualifying in Italy. There were 957 pit stops across the season in total, with the McLaren team performing the fastest pit of the season for Jenson Button at the German Grand Prix – just 2.31 seconds. In all, the total distance travelled by Pirelli's F1 tyres in 2012 was 216,967 km.
Looking ahead to next year
Pirelli has already turned its attention to the tyres that will be required for next season's F1 Grand Prix, which will mark the final year of its initial three-year supplier deal. In fact, it even brought along some of its prototypes to Brazil, so that Formula One teams could get acquainted during the free practice session. The 2013 prototype tyres were used primarily during the morning session.
They use a different structure to this season's compounds, which promises a quicker warm-up time and deliberately faster degradation.
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Posted by Danielle Barge