By the time you're reading this article, Formula One will have returned to the U.S. after a six-year absence.
On Nov. 18, F1 race fans from around the world will have focused their attention on the newly constructed and purpose-built Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Paolo Ferrari, chairman and CEO of Pirelli Tire North America (left), and Tom Gravalos, vice president of marketing and OE, speak with media at the launch event.
The track truly is something to see, and in October journalists from North America had the chance to do just that, as well as to test-drive Pirelli’s new Cinturato P7 All Season Plus. Being the F1 tire supplier does have its advantages, and Pirelli took the opportunity during ribbon cutting ceremonies at the track.
The name Cinturato “cintura” is an Italian description for the “metal belt” that gives the tire its strength was carried by the very first tires Pirelli produced for F1 in the 1950s. The Cinturato name has stood for performance, safety and control ever since, including the tiremaker’s latest rollout for the North American luxury touring market.
According to the tiremaker, the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus was developed by Pirelli engineers with the objective of creating “one tire for all seasons, further improving the safety and ecological characteristics of the Cinturato P7 for the replacement market without compromising the performance that has taken the P7 to the top of its class as an original equipment fitment.”
Or, as Pirelli stated: “One Tire, Four Seasons, No Compromises.”
According to Tom Gravalos, vice president of marketing and OE, and Steve Carpino, vice president of research and development for North America, the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus is representative of the new offerings in Pirelli’s product portfolio created by its Interactive Development Process (IDP).
IDP, as they explained, improves interaction between “different teams of engineers working in different departments,” getting the best input based on “skills and experiences” to “develop and test the most appropriate evolutions.” The process includes “intensive use of virtual mathematical modeling,” which allows tire concepts to be tested under “a variety of usage conditions via computer simulation.”
Pirelli's tagline for the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus is, "One Tire, Four Seasons, No Compromises."
All of this shortens product time-to-market and “helps accelerate the pace of new innovations,” vital as Pirelli said it expects to garner 57% of its revenues from new products by 2015.
The new tire’s launch is being timed with the ramping up of production at Pirelli’s new plant in Silao, Mexico, where the P7 All Season Plus will be exclusively built.
The tire boasts a 15% reduction in rolling resistance compared to previous Pirelli A/S tires, providing a 2% to 3% savings in fuel consumption, according to the tiremaker. Pirelli added the tire is made using a highly aromatic oil-free compound and 6% less raw materials; has a silica-based tread compound for 47% better tread life; and features an optimized asymmetric tread design that provides a 5% reduction in road noise.
The Cinturato P7 All Season Plus has a more rigid structure thanks to the use of latest generation materials, a progressively flexible sidewall, and a reinforced contact patch, according to Pirelli, which added the extra rigidity cuts down on deformation and dispersal of energy, reducing rolling resistance. The steel belts have been lightened, with a level of tension optimized to guarantee stable and well-balanced performance. The tire’s compounds are designed to reduce braking distances and lessen rolling resistance, Pirelli added.
The new tire will be “competitively priced” and carries a 70,000-mile limited treadwear warranty and a 700AA UTQG rating. Target vehicles include the Audi A3/A4/A6, BMW 3/5/X3/X5, Infiniti G, Fiat 500, Mini Countryman, Mercedes A/B/CLC/S and the Porsche Panamera, according to Pirelli.
Through mid-2013, the P7 All Season Plus will be offered in 16 sizes ranging from 16- to 20-inch wheel diameters; in the second half of the year, Pirelli will add 11 more sizes.
Dealers can expect to see the tire introduced in the near term at driving events around the country.