By Alex Kapadia
Pirelli is set to debut its latest P Zero Silver tyres at the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend.
The 2012-specification of the hardest and most durable tyre of Pirelli’s Formula One range makes its first appearance at what is regarded as one of the most challenging races of the season.
Tyres are pushed to their limits on the Sepang circuit due to extremes of weather that frequently take in soaring temperatures as well as torrential rain.
The track is characterised by an abrasive surface that adds to the demands placed on the tyres, which have to cope with two long straights as well as several hairpins that test traction.
These extreme requirements make Sepang the ideal territory for the P Zero Silver, whose resilient qualities have inspired the recently-launched P Zero Silver road car tyre, which prioritises endurance as well as performance.
Alongside the P Zero Silver hard, the P Zero White medium tyre has been nominated for Malaysia, which was also seen in Australia.
This combination best covers the wide-ranging conditions seen in Malaysia, with the Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet also ready to deal with the torrential downpours that are a common feature of the track, located just north of the equator.
Even when it is not raining, humidity remains at about 80%, increasing the physical challenge for the drivers.
The increased tyre wear caused by the unique nature of Malaysia could lead to an increased number of pit stops, with three stops proving to be the winning strategy last year.
However, the compounds used by Pirelli this year are generally softer and faster. The hard compound that will be seen in Malaysia this weekend is much closer in character to the 2011 medium compound, underlining the constantly-evolving performance of the P Zero covers.