The historic collaboration between Alfa Romeo and Pirelli opens a new chapter today, with Pirelli the technical partner of the Alfa Romeo Driving Academy event, at the FCA Group’s Balocco test track. This reveals the secrets behind the advanced vehicle dynamics that are the hallmark of every Alfa Romeo. Track tests and technical insights (from suspension to tires) explain how the latest generation of Alfa Romeos have recaptured their rightful place at the very top of the premium class.
A RECORD-BREAKING COLLABORATION
The 1950 Alfa Romeo 158, the very first car to win a Formula 1 race and championship, was equipped with Pirelli tires. Driven by the legendary Nino Farina, the Alfa relied on its equally legendary Pirelli Stella Bianca rubber. In 2013, the Alfa Romeo 4C beat several supercars to a Nürburgring-Nordschleife record, glued to the track thanks to its Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber, while in 2016 the P Zero Corsa helped the Giulia Quadrifoglio to become the fastest saloon car on the iconic circuit. Just one year later the Stelvio Quadrifoglio conquered the Nordschleife on P Zero tires to seal the record for the quickest SUV in the world.
SPECIAL PIRELLI TIRES FOR ALFA ROMEO SINCE 2014
The long relationship between the two famous Milanese companies – Alfa Romeo and Pirelli – is marked by stories of success, victories, cars and people. For these reasons, Pirelli introduced ‘AR’ marked tires in 2014 to identify tires developed specifically for Alfa Romeo: and not only for the most powerful cars in the range. In total, there are now 43 Pirelli tire homologations for Alfa Romeo and 33 marked tires: created as the result of a parallel development program between the car and its tires. This bespoke philosophy is used by all the key premium and prestige car manufacturers, which requires up to three years of research and development from Pirelli, including thousands of hours of indoor and outdoor testing, not to mention around 180 prototypes and 4000 development tires. This process takes place for every tire marked with a symbol denoting a manufacturer.
Each model from the current Alfa Romeo range – including the most iconic cars from the recent past, such as the 8C Competizione – has a Pirelli tire developed specifically for it by Pirelli and Alfa Romeo engineers jointly. The Quadrifoglio range in particular – Giulia and Stelvio – uses Pirelli P Zero tires exclusively as original equipment.
PERFECT FIT: PIRELLI AND ALFA ROMEO
As well as Pirelli’s own proving grounds, the Balocco test center – built by Alfa Romeo in the early 1970s and then incorporated into the FCA Group – was one of the places where the shared development of Alfa cars and tires took place. So for Pirelli this marks a notable return to the venue, this time as the technical partner of the Alfa Romeo Driving Academy. It was also an opportunity to highlight the technical differences between marked and non-marked tires, which can often be spotted even with the naked eye: as structures, compounds, and reinforcing materials on marked tires are specifically designed to complement the characteristics of the cars they are fitting on each occasion. The AR-marked Cinturato P7 is one example: this uses a special construction in zero-degree Nylon and Kevlar to offer stable high-speed handling, while other variants use a single ply for increased comfort, or steel-reinforced dual ply to improve soft handling manoeuvers. Pirelli tires homologated for Alfa Romeo include summer tires such as the Cinturato P7, sporting tires such as the P Zero and P Zero Corsa, not to mention winter tires and the all season range. Furthermore, Run Flat technology has recently been introduced to some versions of the Giulia.
This tailor-made approach to tire production is guaranteed by more than 1800 engineers who work in Pirelli’s research and development department, 31 university collaborations and 6.5% of Pirelli’s high-value product revenue re-invested each year into research and development. This neatly summarizes Pirelli’s ‘Perfect Fit’ strategy, born to provide every car with the best possible tire.