One of the concepts that Pirelli talks about most is ‘track to road’ – but what does that actually mean? After all, you can’t actually take a racing car onto the road (unless you happen to be somewhere like Monaco or Singapore for the grand prix weekend, in which case it’s actively encouraged).
But now, there’s a brand-new initiative that illustrates perfectly what is meant by technology transfer from track to road. Welcome to the Pirelli Hot Laps programme, which started in Bahrain this year.
The programme gives people a chance to experience what it’s like to be driven flat-out in a supercar by a racing driver on the actual circuit during a grand prix weekend. In other words, the closest possible experience to taking part: with the added opportunity to observe drivers and tracks from a privileged position.
The idea is capture the essence of performance: not only from the supercars themselves, but also from their P Zero tyres, which are developed from the experience gained in competition.
It’s also an opportunity for the many car manufacturers involved at the top levels of motorsport as engine suppliers, teams and partners, to showcase the brilliance of their products in the environment that inspired them.
The first manufacturers confirmed for the Pirelli Hot Laps programme this year, which will mostly take place on long-haul flyaway events, are Aston Martin and McLaren; with more being announced in the coming weeks. Aston Martin will use both Red Bull Racing drivers – their official partners – while McLaren will use their Formula 1 race drivers as well as stars of the future, such as Formula 2 points leader Lando Norris. The Englishman had a busy weekend in Bahrain, but there was one extra-curricular activity that he wasn’t about to miss out on.
Lando got his chance to get behind the wheel of a new McLaren 720S in Bahrain: powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Among the design influences for the 720S, as well as the iconic McLaren F1 road car from 1992, is the great white shark – and Lando certainly enjoyed its predatory aspect.
His ‘victims’ included a number of guests from McLaren and Pirelli, as well as leading representatives of the international media.
“So, how do you want me to drive this?” he said to one well-known editor, lining the McLaren up on the start-finish straight.
“Just do as you would normally do,” came the reply.
“OK then,” said Lando, casually selecting first gear.
The gentleman in question is still recovering now.
Here is a recap of the tyre strategies during last week’s Feature Race in Sakhir.
Norris – Hard (new) 17 laps // Soft (used) 14 laps
Sette Câmara – Hard (new) 16 laps // Soft (used) 15 laps
Markelov – Hard (new) 17 laps // Soft (used) 14 laps
Albon – Hard (new) 16 laps // Soft (used) 15 laps
Russell – Hard (new) 14 laps // Soft (new) 17 laps
De Vries – Hard (new) 17 laps // Soft (used) 14 laps
Gelael – Hard (new) 14 laps // Soft (new) 17 laps
Günther – Hard (new) 16 laps // Soft (used) 15 laps
Aitken – Hard (new) 16 laps // Soft (used) 15 laps
Boschung – Hard (new) 18 laps // Soft (used) 13 laps
Latifi – Hard (new) 14 laps // Soft (used) 17 laps
Ghiotto – Hard (new) 18 laps // Soft (used) 13 laps
Delétraz – Hard (new) 13 laps // Soft (used) 18 laps
Maini – Hard (new) 19 laps // Soft (used) 12 laps
Nissany – Hard (new) 18 laps // Soft (used) 13 laps
Fukuzumi – Hard (new) 15 laps // Soft (used) 16 laps
Fuoco – Hard (new) 18 laps // Soft (used) 13 laps
Makino – Hard (new) 13 laps // Soft (used) 17 laps
Ferrucci – Soft (new) 11 laps // Hard (new) 20 laps