With the opening grand prix of the 2013 Formula One (F1) season now out the way, the attention is quickly beginning to shift to the second race in Malaysia this weekend.
Plenty of the focus leading into the first grand prix of the new campaign in Melbourne, Australia, was placed on Pirelli’s new set of tyres for the prestigious motorsport.
However, those at the well-known Italian tyre manufacturer have left the Albert Park race circuit with the knowledge that the firm’s medium and supersoft tyres had performed just as predicted during pre-season.
Looking ahead to the second race of the 2013 season, the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, Pirelli’s motorsports director Paul Hembery is expecting that the tyres will be put through much more gruelling conditions than those seen in Melbourne last weekend.
"We would describe Sepang as genuinely 'extreme': both in terms of weather and track surface. This means that it is one of the most demanding weekends for our tyres that we experience all year,” Mr Hembery pointed out.
As a result, while the nomination of tyres for the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix will remain the same as last year’s selection by the Italian manufacturer, the course is set to give Pirelli the opportunity to introduce its brand-new P Zero Orange hard tyre to the stars of F1.
The toughest compound available in Pirelli’s F1 2013 collection, the product will make its competitive debut alongside the P Zero White medium – one of the tyre nominations for last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
However, with the Sepang International Circuit being renowned for its monsoon-like downpours as much as its often extreme temperatures and abrasive track surface, fans of the motorsport should also expect to see Pirelli’s Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyres feature sometime over the race weekend.
Mr Hembery continued: “For the first time we see our new Orange hard compound in competition, with this colour chosen to make it more easy to distinguish from the white medium on television.
"The nomination we have for Malaysia is the same as last year, but the compounds themselves offer more performance and deliberately increased degradation this season.”
One man who knows exactly what it feels like to try and navigate around ever-changing conditions on the Sepang International Circuit aboard a F1 car is Jean Alesi.
The former motorsport star is now the brand ambassador for Pirelli, and he has reflected: “I’ve taken part in the Malaysian Grand Prix twice: the first time in 1999, which was the inaugural year, and the second time in 2000, which was my final year in Formula One.
“On both occasions I finished, but I remember what a big challenge it was both for the drivers and the cars: physically it is one of the most demanding races on the calendar.”
Mr Hembery is confident that with the Pirelli P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres in place, the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix can be just as exciting as last season’s thrilling race.
Following a contest where a three-stop strategy proved to be the most effective course of action, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso just barely held off the challenge of then Sauber-Ferrari driver Sergio Perez for victory.
“We'd expect three stops again but once more it's likely to be weather that dominates the action,” Mr Hembery noted.
“Even when it isn't raining, the drivers can expect humidity in the region of 80 per cent and ambient temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade."
Select from a huge range of Pirelli tyres with ATS Euromaster.
Posted by Danielle Barge