As far as stock-take sessions go, Pirelli's return to Abu Dhabi precisely a year after the company unveiled the products designed to take Formula 1 through the 2011 season - the first in a three-year sole-supplier contract secured after Bridgestone's withdrawal from the sport - the tyre company's media camp at the Yas Marina circuit was pretty successful.
In its first season since withdrawing from F1 exactly 20 years earlier, Pirelli did both itself and F1 proud, supplying a total of 34,000 tyre units to 12 teams - of which 24,000 were actually used. Remarkably, the sport suffered not a single quality-related tyre failure despite the grid covering over 180,000 miles during race weekends and testing.
Pirelli's 2012 F1 tyres were launched this week in the UAE
The company came in at short notice after the supply contract was formally granted in June 2010 off the back of a tacit brief to 'spice up' the show by supplying rubber with rapid, but controlled degradation. That Pirelli delivered is proven by a single statistic: in the 19 races the teams made 1111 pit lane visits, of which just 26 were penalty-related.
It is a truism in F1 that incoming teams face tougher second seasons than their maiden years, and so it is for tyre companies. During sophomore seasons tolerance is understandably in short supply. When the bar has been nudged as high as Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery and his team managed in 2011, that task is all the more difficult.
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken