Pirelli has described the British Grand Prix and its second ‘home race’, because the Italian tyres manufacturer has a logistics and distribution facility at Didcot, which is just 45 minutes from Silverstone by car (although it might be a little less if, say, Jenson Button was behind the wheel of said car).
Around 40 people are based there, including the 12 engineers assigned to the teams and the 19 tyre fitters whose job it is to put the tyres on the rims.
Pirelli’s 12 distinctive carbon black trucks live in Didcot as well: two service trucks, seven tyre transporters, and three trucks for the hospitality unit.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director, points out: “It was important for us to have a base in the United Kingdom, as eight of the 12 Formula One teams are there and this enables us to provide them with the most prompt and efficient service.
“We also wanted to establish a centre of competence in Britain, in order to benefit from the know-how in this country and attract some of the best engineers and other personnel, who are used to working in England.”
Nonetheless it is an international community: there are eight nationalities represented among the people who work at Didcot, speaking a total of 10 different languages.
Pirelli looked at more than 50 potential sites within the UK at the start of the year before settling on Didcot in Oxfordshire, which contained the right combination of indoor and outdoor space, together with convenient transport links by road and air.
Pirelli’s 50,000 Formula One tyres are produced at Izmit in Turkey and then transported by road to Didcot one to two weeks before each European race.
At Didcot, the bar codes are confirmed and the tyres are allocated to each team, following the random assignation of the codes by the FIA, the sport’s governing body.
Following each race, the used tyres are taken back to Didcot as well for recycling at a specialised plant nearby.
Didcot does not just deal with the Formula One, GP2 and GP3 race tyres but also the other non-race tyres that the teams require on a regular basis, such as wind tunnel tyres, show tyres and test rig tyres.
For Pirelli’s truck drivers, Silverstone is the shortest journey of the year, consisting of just 70 kilometres. By contrast, the longest journey for the hospitality unit is Istanbul in Turkey, 3100 kilometres away by road.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team