When you’re on the track and you need performance and grip, the tyres play a crucial role. The tyres are the only points of contact between the car and the track, so to achieve the best performance possible, they must be perfectly attuned to the characteristics of the car itself.
To attain the perfect car-tyre combination, the development process for the tyres must start during the development of the virtual models of the car. This led Pirelli’s engineers to work in close contact with their counterparts at Ferrari for around 7 months to develop the new tyres for the 488 Challenge Evo, which will be used from this year’s season onward. The development process for the new tyre, available in the sizes 275/675-19 DHA and 315/705-19 DHA for the front and rear wheels respectively, began with the definition of a virtual model which was then used in the driving simulator to identify the specific solutions and performance characteristics necessary to attain the fastest possible lap times. This is a highly technological process, in which Ferrari and Pirelli engineers interact virtually, and which allows digital prototypes to be validated using simulators, offering significant benefits in terms of time, expenditure and environmental impact.
Pirelli’s experience in using virtual design and simulators to create new tyres, acquired in motorsport applications and Formula 1 in particular, has allowed the company to transfer this development process to the production of tyres for road-going cars, starting with products for the prestige segment. By using latest generation technology, virtual tyres can be created for a wide variety of different cars, making it possible to modify individual parameters on the fly and enabling the instantaneous exchange of digital information between Pirelli and the constructor. Using both a static simulator and a dynamic simulator makes it possible to create a virtual model of the car and reproduce a wide spectrum of driving conditions, allowing Pirelli to tailor the characteristics of the tyre to achieve the perfect balance between the performance of the car and the performance of the tyre while remaining on-schedule with the constructor’s timeline for the development of the car. Additionally, using this test process reduces the number of physical prototypes produced per year, bringing evident benefits in terms of environmental impact.
Defining the ideal car-tyre combination is a very time-consuming process, and the technological solutions used have made it possible for the development process to carry on uninterruptedly even during lockdown, allowing the car constructor and the tyre manufacturer to continue sharing data and conduct simulations. Naturally, this virtual process is always followed by final validation on the track, which, as well as being required to confirm and certify the digital results, is also used to make the process itself an even more accurate tool for predicting real-world behaviour.