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Pirelli, McLaren & Nanotech


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25. October 2012

While tire development is part and parcel of any new vehicle development, as the ride and handling engineers at the OEM want to make sure that the vehicle rides and handles (imagine) as it should, and the tires (as well as other parts of the suspension) pay a critical role, we are a little surprised to learn that in order to develop the special P Zero and P Zero Corsa tires for the McLaren MP4-12C (both the road and track versions, with the former being for the road and the latter. . . ), Pirelli researches availed themselves of nanotechnology for the tire compounds.

The tires had to be developed in order to:

1. Handle the high power output of the twin-turbo engine, laying down the torque progressively and consistently.

2. Work in an optimal way with the high-performance suspension.

3. Generate maximum grip and traction under varying conditions.

Pirelli engineers did extensive computer modeling to determine the design, construction, and constituents of the tires.

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On the one hand, the tire structure had to provide flexibility and grip, while on the other rigidity to handle high aerodynamic loads.

One consequence of that was the development of tires for the front with a rounded profile and tires for the rear with a more squared-off shape.

The nanotechnology—what Pirelli calls “intelligent compounds”—come into play by being able to adapt to the varying forces acting on the car. The nanocomposite materials are used in both the overall compounds and the beads.

Smart, yes. “Intelligent compounds”? Probably not.

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