A history of Pirelli Tyres

by chris sanders on 26th April 2012

Whether you purchased your car from a dealership or from a private individual, the odds are good that it has Pirelli tyres on it if it is a hot car. That is because the company is the fifth largest tyre manufacturer in the world. These tyres also occupy much of the world, since Pirelli does business in more than 160 countries. Due to having over 10,000 retailers and distributors dealing with Pirelli tyres, it requires 20 sites worldwide just to handle the manufacturing.

Pirelli has been around a while. When founded in 1872, it focused on rubber products; one of those was rebreathers for scuba diving gear. The company also used to make cables for energy and telecommunications. Tyres, however, are the biggest part of the Pirelli business today.

In the mid-70s, the company came out with the wide radial tyre. In this tyre, the cord plies are positioned at a 90-degree angle to the direction of movement. Pirelli created this to fulfill a special request by a racing team that was racing a very powerful car: the Lancia Stratos. Because of the power of the car, traditional radials, slicks and cross ply tyres did not grab the road well enough. These tyres soon became the norm in European racing cars.

In 2007, the International Motorcycling Federation made the Pirelli tyre the only one that is legal for use in the World Superbike Championship and the Supersport World Championship. Then, in 2008, Pirelli was awarded a contract to supply the control tyre for the British Superbike Championship.

Also in 2008, the company became the official supplier of tyres for the World Rally Championship. It decided to withdraw from that arrangement in 2010 to focus on making tyres for Formula One race cars. It became the only tyre supplier for F1 in 2011, which was the beginning of a three-year contract. The company itself had competed in F1 racing off and on from 1950 to the early 1990s.

The Formula One tyres that Pirelli makes are not like traditional road tyres. A conventional tyre will last for tens of thousands of miles. An F1 tyre, however, will not even last one entire race. Therefore, tyre changes are required during the event. This is due to the hard driving style and the amount of adhesion required to keep the car on the road.

There are Formula One rules that require tyres have markings on them to distinguish the kind of compound of which they are made. This used to be done by having different coloured lettering. When Pirelli took over as the supplier, it presented a better way to determine the compounds by putting coloured bands on the tyres. This makes it easier to see the colours when the tyre is rotating and it soon became the standard for marking the tyres.

Today, in addition to racing tyres, Pirelli makes and sells tyres for agricultural equipment, buses, cars, forklifts, motorcycles and trucks. This includes tyres for regular street use and off road use. In addition to buying the tyres, you can buy stock in the company and become a part owner of one of the greatest racing tyre companies in the world.

This article has been written and contributed by Louis Rix, the Marketing Director at Netcars.com, the UK’s leading car search engine and Carfinance247.co.uk the UK’s leading car loans provider.

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