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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 05: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Red Bull driving on track during the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023 launch party on November 05, 2022 on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Greg Doherty - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Pirelli faces the cold reality of Las Vegas Grand Prix

Las Vegas Grand Prix's upcoming debut puts Pirelli's Mario Isola in spotlight as cold forecasts challenge Pirelli tyres as temps predicted to dip to 3-5 degrees during qualifying

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As the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix looms on the Formula 1 horizon, Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola finds himself at the centre of attention, bracing for the challenges presented by the desert city’s unique conditions. With temperatures forecasted to plummet as low as three degrees Celsius during qualifying, concerns arise about the impact on the specially crafted Pirelli tyres used by the drivers.

Director of Pirelli F1 Mario Isola ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain (Image Credit: Dan Istitene – Getty Images)
Mario Isola’s anticipation

Mario Isola, the face of Pirelli’s involvement in F1 spoke firmly about the upcoming race and the possible trials and tribulations, saying that he anticipates that the cold temperatures in Las Vegas will be a significant talking point.

“The asphalt is quite smooth according to the information I have, and so the level of grip will be very poor, I can anticipate this,” he noted. Unlike the usual concern of tyres degrading too quickly, teams are expected to grapple with the opposite issue—struggling to bring the rubber up to temperature.

“It’s a big unknown. Fast track, long straights, high speed and all conditions that are quite difficult to manage.”

Isola went on to further expand on the potential for issues, noting that “I believe that we are going to talk about Pirelli in Vegas because of the temperature.” Despite the option for teams to choose from the three softest compounds, including the C5 set as the soft tyre, he acknowledges the challenge posed by the super cool conditions and a circuit that doesn’t generate sufficient energy into the tyres. “The warm-up will be tricky,” he ominously added.

Pirellis ‘step into the unknown’

Describing the forthcoming race in Las Vegas as a “step into the unknown,” Isola emphasized the unprecedented nature of the new street circuit. In preparation, Pirelli has worked closely with the teams to conduct tests and simulations well in advance, aiming to further expand understanding of the energy dynamics the circuit layout will have on the tyres. Despite gathering information from the companies responsible for the circuit’s asphalt, there is still an uneasy feeling about the challenges that may arise during the race.

“It is a step into the unknown, for everybody I believe,” Isola commented.

“Las Vegas will be cold, it’s a street circuit. We decided to use the three softest compounds in the range to try to generate grip”

The record for the coldest race to date is currently held by the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, which saw Gilles Villeneuve take victory in his Ferrari as temperatures plummeted to a bone-chilling minus 4 degrees Celsius. The bitterly cold conditions posed extraordinary challenges, leading to difficulties with tire grip and engine performance. After this, the race was never scheduled for October again and with the Las Vegas Grand Prix, around the corner with its  foreboding weather forecast, echoes of that historic Canadian race,

Pirelli predicts tyre management key to success

The strategic selection of tyres reflects Pirelli’s proactive approach to tackle the anticipated difficulties in a city known for its glitz and glamour but presenting an unpredictable challenge for Formula 1. As teams gear up for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, all eyes are on Isola and Pirelli, navigating the uncharted territory of cold temperatures and a demanding street circuit.

“We had information from the companies that are making the tarmac in order to understand how abrasive is the tarmac and which is the level of grip we can expect. But still, a lot of question marks are on Las Vegas. We decided to use the three softest compounds in the range to try to generate grip.

“I can imagine a lot of track evolution and very low grip. So they will complain! It’s fine. We will manage also this situation. But it’s a big unknown. Fast track, long straights, high speed and all conditions that are quite difficult to manage.”

Feature Image Credit: Greg Doherty – Getty Images

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