Pole position comes of age
Question: which is the very fastest tyre that Pirelli makes? You might say the new Pink hypersoft, and with a projected lap time that’s potentially two seconds quicker than last year’s fastest laps, you might just be right. But for any driver, the fastest tyre – and the fastest car – is always the one that has just set pole position.
Winning a race feels amazing, winning a championship even more so. But these things are continually subject to the twists of strategy and vicissitudes of fate. When it comes to a pure distillation of speed; the simplest essence of Formula 1 – in other words, going faster than anybody else – there’s nothing quite like qualifying. There are no excuses and no places to hide during that crucial hour.
This is why so many drivers pride themselves most on their qualifying records. Witness the emotions even from hardened legends such as Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton when they broke the long-standing pole position record (of 65 poles) set by an even greater legend: Ayrton Senna.
Because these champions know just how much it means to officially be the fastest. And now, Pirelli introduces a new initiative to mark these qualifying records too – naturally in rubber. From Australia, the Pirelli Pole Position Award will be awarded at each grand prix.
Introducing a new award
The Pirelli Pole Position Award will be given to each driver who sets a pole position this year, and it will take the form of an engraved wind tunnel tyre, uniquely commemorating the occasion with the name of the driver who set pole position and their time – etched upon the compound with which they did it.
Up to now, although trophies have been dispensed to the top three finishers at every grand prix since Formula 1 was born, there has unbelievably been no prize given to the driver setting pole position – despite some true acts of heroism against the clock.
With the award being presented at each race, there will be some drivers amassing a small collection of them. So, at the end of the year, the driver setting the most poles will receive a full-size engraved Formula 1 tyre to mark their achievements – with every single one of their pole positions etched on it for posterity. The tyre on which this will be done will of course be the hypersoft: symbolising the very ultimate in speed and endeavour, which Pirelli is bringing to Formula 1 this year.
From the wind tunnel to the trophy cabinet
These scale replicas used for the award at the end of every race will be based on Pirelli’s wind tunnel tyres, which serve a very serious purpose rather than just being objects of art. They are given to teams for modelling purposes during the season, so that they can design their new cars around the exact shape of the latest tyres.
Thanks to the latest generation of tyres and regulations, Formula 1 is the fastest it has ever been, with lap records even broken in pre-season testing at Barcelona. So, there has never been a better time to introduce this new award: an era of unprecedented speed, with more records set to tumble this year. Especially on Saturday afternoons.