At this point in the season for Formula 1, most of the team motorhomes and trucks are parked in their respective bases all over Europe, being refurbished and overhauled in preparation for pre-season testing during the early part of next year. Not so when it comes to GP3 (and Formula 2) as the Pirelli trucks had one final big road trip of the year last week – down to Jerez in southern Spain: approximately 2500 kilometres away from their British base in Didcot.
Didcot is Pirelli’s motorsport centre of excellence in Oxfordshire and employs more than 50 people from technicians right through to logistics personnel. At any one time, it is home to around 20,000 tyres from a variety of motorsport championships, including GP3 for which Pirelli has been sole tyre supplier since 2010.
Not only is Didcot the UK motorsport distribution hub for Pirelli, it is also where each tyre’s barcode is scanned and where the GP3 tyres are put on wheels. Every tyre leaving Didcot is allocated to a championship, team and driver in advance, and the barcode determines who this is. This process ensures that tyre allocations run smoothly and transparently when at the track.
Pirelli supports over 340 motorsport championships across the world so motorsport logistics is a massive task for the company as a whole – and not just when it comes to tyres, but also for staff too. There’s a travel department at Didcot solely responsible for ensuring the right personnel are at each race: no easy task when there could be nearly 100 Pirelli employees travelling to different races in the same weekend, with 55 in Japan for Formula 1 and up to 10 in Jerez last weekend, for example.
Didcot is also home of the iconic Pirelli trucks: carbon black emblazoned with the distinctive yellow logo. There are around 15 trucks based at Didcot, most of which were new for the start of this year, but it’s not very often that you see them all there together. Generally busy attending events all over Europe, with the last major trip of the year being to Jerez.
Pirelli’s motorsport engineers also work out of Didcot, simply because Britain has become well-known as a global centre for motorsport, and so it becomes easier to recruit the best people (even though it’s very much a multinational team). These people include Pirelli’s dedicated GP3 engineers and tyre fitters, whose knowledge of the product enables drivers and teams to get the very best out of their tyres.