• May 7, 2012

Pirelli has distinguished itself in the tire market by creating products for its performance and racecars with technology that can then be applied to luxury and general consumer cars. The brand's renewed foray into Formula 1 racing after a 20-year absence has enhanced the emphasis on its tire technology, which hinges on tire tread designs.

In its second straight year of being the sole supplier for Formula 1 with the 63rd FIA World Championship at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, the tires feature squarer profiles, increased grip, and softer, more competitive compounds with consistent degradation.

Pirelli gleans real-time data from tires based on performance, temperature and pressure to optimize engineering and patterns. Tire tread pattern technology is an intricate art that can make all the difference.

What is it?

Tread patterns, quite simply, are the grooves and contours on a tire that give the wheel its grip and traction while allowing for performance capabilities. "Lugs" are the elevated parts of the tire that make contact with the road, and "voids" describe the space between the lugs that sluice the water through to avoid slippage.

Tread patterns can appear in symmetric, asymmetric, and directional tread patterns. Symmetric treads, the pattern most common on wheels (and found in Pirelli's Scorpion ATR tires), have continuous ribs or tread blocks where inboard and outboard sides match. Asymmetric tread patterns, effective in both dry and slick driving, vary the groove pattern along the surface of the tire such that as it turns, the tire can deflect water and grip snow while increasing contact area on dry roads; a balance of two worlds; this pattern is especially common for all-season tires. Directional tires have lateral grooves that form a V-shape across a tire's center as in Pirelli Winter Carving tires. The V-shape formation, much like a snow-plow skiing method, reduces the hydroplaning potential. Typically, tires with deeper grooves are better able to handle wetter conditions.

Indeed, the geometry of the tread blocks have very dedicated and specific functions depending on the size and application of the tire. Their size and sequence contribute not only to the noise and aquaplaning patterns but are also designed to optimize treadwear depending on their intended use-such as off-road applications for (Sc ATR) and high severity handling with P Zero.

How does it work?

Treads maintain grip while focusing on decreasing rolling resistance, the physical force that taxes a vehicle to produce more energy. In fact, the friction between the tire and road surface has a direct influence on fuel consumption, so the optimal tire tread pattern maintains safety and performance for a given road condition while limiting the resistance.

Achieving optimal rolling resistance requires a 360° in-depth analysis of the tire's dynamic performance and materials used. Specifically regarding the tread pattern (as an integral function of the tire profile and groove depth), the targets are to have a very uniform contact pressure distribution and reduced movement within the tire's footprint during use. Any flexing movement results in friction loss and thus absorbs energy. The orientation of the blocks within the footprint is a design tool to help achieve the reduced rolling resistance.

The Pirelli Cinturato offers environmentally friendly performance with innovative compounds, structure, and tread patterns conducive to lower consumptions and carbon dioxide emissions, more durability, and improved safety in all conditions. By cutting rolling resistance, a tire can roll more efficiently without requiring excess power. More angular profiles and softer compounds work to increase performance. The evolution of the Pirelli tires has originated from regulation changes introduced by the FIA regarding blown exhausts. This new measure, which should result in a reduction of aerodynamic downforce acting on each tire, requires a wider and more even contact patch. As such, the tires have a less rounded shoulder on each tire and using softer compounds, which produce better grip and more extreme performance. Tires set to be used in 2012 have a squarer profile in order to improve the wear rate, by preserving the tire shoulder by distributing stresses more evenly and lowering the risk of blistering. Though these tires have technology helpful for winning F1 races, the technology is easily applied to the most powerful sports cars currently on sale, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin and Bentley.

How is the racing technology applied?

Rally activity has always been an outdoor laboratory for off-road and M+S tires-in particular, winter tires-whether studded or not. Circuit racing and more recently the Pirelli F1 development has provided some interesting and useful materials which in part are transmitted directly to ultra high performance tyres such as the P Zero is a perfect example.

Also, another spin off from F1 is from the sophistication of the predictive modeling a simulation technology used, that become routine tools to greatly accelerate UHP tire technology and the application toward street tire development.

Why would I want it?

You'll get more mileage. The tread compound on Pirelli tires has been reinforced with specialized proprietary compounds to extend durability without compromising on grip. Turning on wet surfaces is safer with the right type of tire treads and can shorten the braking distance necessary when coming to a sudden stop. Scorpion Verde, for example, is a high-performance tire from Pirelli that is geared toward eco-conscious capabilities for SUVs and crossovers. Because it is made without highly aromatic oils, it reduces fuel consumption by up to 3.9% in city driving.

Is there a downside?

The initial expense of a high-quality tire could be an initial deterrent to purchase, but factor in the longevity of the tire, and you may be saving in the long run. That's not even factoring in the invaluable of safety and comfort brought about by treads conducive to traction and performance and the potential to save on gas mileage.

What vehicles offer it?

All vehicles offer different types of tire tread technology depending on the type of driving for which they are designed.

Bottom Line: Tire tread technology has an important influence over not only on performance and safety, but also fuel-efficiency carbon footprint reduction.


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  • 14 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
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      rufus
      • 2 Years Ago
      sorry, but pirelli isn't the only company making tires that do those things, michelin has been doing it for 30 or more years. pirelli is a latecomer to these things.
        Lorri
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rufus
        Hey Goober, Thumper says, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." re:vlady1000 in case you don't get it.
          posthuf
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Lorri
          By not saying anything at all YOU let a lot of BS go unchallenged, people hear it, and since there is no challenge they believe it must be truth.
      heldt666
      • 2 Years Ago
      Interesting that an article exclusively about Pirelli shows a Michelin tire. Michelin beats Pirelli in every consumer test. Michelin is being made in the USA, makes it a better buy.
      TheAncientOne
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seems to me that all this high tech stuff has gotten way out of hand. No one buying tires understands all these claims. If they think they do, they're fooling themselves. And all this rotation of tires is not what saves tires. Keeping the vehicle in alignment is the secret to tires lasting a long time. I had a 2001 Ram Pickup with Michelin tires. I might have rotated them 3 or 4 times and wore them out with 82,000 miles on them. They might have been high tech tires, I have no idea, but I never smoked them nor made a habit of coming to a screeching stop nor sliding around corners. These are things that wastes rubber. There's lots of good tires on the market today. Most of them are overpriced. Those high tech words add a lot of cost to them. Be safe, drive sensible and save your tires, brakes, and your life. Don't text and drive. Anything that you have to take your eyes off the road to do is going to get you into an accident. Accidents cause people to die. Let's stop people from dying from driving, including yourself.
      posthuf
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nothing but an ad for pirelli tires. And not a good one at that. Under normal driving conditions your tires, whether the expensive pirelli or the cheapest Firestone, will last about 40,000-60,000 miles, depending on how often you burn rubber or make skidding stops. More than 99% of us don't need anything more than the mid-range price tires. Then again, if democrats win in Nov, we won't need any tires. We won't be able to afford gas.
      cliffgreen
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice long advert for Pirelli. Does anyone else make tires, either for the rest of us, or for racing? We know that F1 only uses one supplier, and you said that Pirelli was not even in that series for 20 years. So, who supplied tires for the past 20 years, or didn't they fork over any sponsorship $$ for a pseudo-objective article? The average driver could benefit from a reference or link to Tire Rack, where info an most major brands of street tires is available on-line.
      LL
      • 2 Years Ago
      I had a very successful career as a car dealer. In my early 50’s, I've retired from the car business and purchased a beautiful home and many acres of land. Unfortunately, the land market took a turn for the worse and suddenly I found myself in debt and unable to pay my bills. At my age, no one would hire me, so I began to look for a business that I could run from home. After looking at many possibilities, I decided that this opportunity ( http://bit.ly/PartnerWPaul ) had the most income potential. Starting $50000 in debt, in only one year I had paid off all of my debts, and built a business that now pays me over $8000 monthly. I must say without a doubt that this program is the best program on the net and had change my living lifestyle!
      LL
      • 2 Years Ago
      I had a very successful career as a car dealer. In my early 50’s, I've retired from the car business and purchased a beautiful home and many acres of land. Unfortunately, the land market took a turn for the worse and suddenly I found myself in debt and unable to pay my bills. At my age, no one would hire me, so I began to look for a business that I could run from home. After looking at many possibilities, I decided that this opportunity ( http://bit.ly/PartnerWPaul ) had the most income potential. Starting $50000 in debt, in only one year I had paid off all of my debts, and built a business that now pays me over $8000 monthly. I must say without a doubt that this program is the best program on the net and had change my living lifestyle!
      vlady1000
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is amasing how most people overlook how important the type of tire is. My entire family always teases me when I shop for the correct tire for each of our cars or when I get into a tire conversation with someone. All our daily driver cars have 2 sets of wheels/tires for winter or summer. the type of driver, car and it's usage (summer sports car, etc) makes ahuge difference on what type to get also. They all tease me, but they are the first to ask to have the tires switched for the season or to give me imput to how the new tire feels/ handles. etc (especially my daughter). They all tease me, but they all now know how important it is when the rubber meets the road, properly!!!
        johnjhenry1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @vlady1000
        They are just tires, all tires do pretty much the same thing. Buy the correct size and rating it really doesn't matter. Unless you feel like you gotta have Michelins. I have never heard of anyone having 2 sets of tires and wheels for every car, that is just ridiculous.
        rufus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @vlady1000
        you seem a lot anal to me. a set of all weather michelins is good enough for all year. you should be teased for believing all the advertising you believe, goober.
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