Exciting new developments from Pirelli in rallying and racing took centre stage at the Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre: renowned as the first fixture of the new motorsport season each year.
In December, Pirelli was selected by the FIA as the sole tyre supplier for the World Rally Championship from 2021 onwards. The Italian company has been present in rallying since 1973, claiming 25 world titles and winning 181 WRC events, and was previously the sole supplier to the WRC from 2008 to 2010.
Since then, Pirelli has remained committed to rallying around the world in the WRC2 class as well as regional and national championships. Showcasing this on the Pirelli stand at the Autosport International Show was the unveiling of Matt Edwards’ new Ford Fiesta R5 MkII, with which he will aim for a third consecutive title in the British Rally Championship: a series in which Pirelli also has a proud heritage.
Edwards’ victories the BRC have demonstrated the qualities of Pirelli’s rally tyres, including the P Zero RA for asphalt and Scorpion K for gravel that will also form the basis of the WRC range. Rallying has always been a perfect open air laboratory for Pirelli’s engineers to test out new technologies that are eventually destined for road use, thanks to the extreme conditions that characterise the sport.
Another eye-catching reveal from the Pirelli at the show was the unveiling of the new-for-2020 18-inch tyres for Formula 2. The new, larger size – increased from 13 inches – will be adopted by Formula 1 in 2021, but F2 will introduce them one year earlier, providing young drivers with the chance to gain experience with the new innovation.
Although the new tyres had already been seen in private testing, people visiting the show were the very first to see how they look in their final Formula 2 version, fitted to a car provided by UNI-Virtuosi Racing and complete with Pirelli’s famous coloured stripe sidewalls.
Mario Isola, Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing, was present at the show and appeared on stage to discuss the return to the WRC, the new-look Formula 2 tyres and the latest developments in Formula 1.
“The Autosport International Show really demonstrated the passion and commitment that there is towards motorsport in the UK,” said Isola. “For us, it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet the motorsport enthusiasts who are the backbone of the sport, so I really enjoyed spending some time with the fans and media and discussing the latest developments in our motorsport activities; namely our return to the World Rally Championship and the introduction of 18-inch tyres to Formula 2 and Formula 1.”