The ‘Gymkhana’ star and World Rally driver has announced he will drive the Pirelli F1 test car, which has been used by the Italian company since its Formula One program was announced in June 2010.
The car is a 2009-spec Toyota GP car that has since undergone aerodynamic and weight distribution modifications to simulate the latest Formula One regulations. This has allowed Pirelli to use it for extensive testing on the new tires it’s been supplying for the 2011 season. Before Block takes the wheel on August 5 for a one-off drive at the Italian Monza circuit, the car will have completed two days of testing in the hands of Pirelli test driver Lucas di Grassi, who will be assessing the latest evolutions of the P Zero F1 tires. Di Grassi will remain on hand to give Block some advice as he makes his Formula One debut.
Block will use Pirelli’s softer compound tires to help him get up to speed in the 700hp car, which was a regular podium finisher two years ago. The two softest tires in the P Zero range – P Zero Red (supersoft) and P Zero Yellow (soft) – will give Block the grip he needs to familiarize himself with the car. In particular, these tires reach their operating temperature of around 100˚C (212˚F) in less than two laps. Later in the test, it’s hoped he will try the two harder compounds: P Zero White (medium) and P Zero Silver (hard). These tires have less performancebut increased durability for ‘gymkhana’ style doughnuts!
“I’ve been lucky enough to do some pretty spectacular stunts in my career, but this is something else!” exclaimed Block. “Everybody talks about Formula One being the pinnacle of world motorsport, so I can’t wait to discover it for myself. I’m very grateful to Pirelli, which has been one of my partners since 2010, for this amazing opportunity. These cars are so specialized I need to be realistic about what I can do, but I know it’s going to be a lot of fun and will take hooning to a whole new level.”
Monza is 30 minutes from Pirelli’s Milan HQ and is the home of the Italian Grand Prix. The first Italian Grand Prix at Monza, in 1922, was won on Pirelli tires and the track has had a special significance to the Italian firm ever since.
Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery added, “We’re absolutely delighted Ken is making his Formula One driving debut with us, and where better than Monza? I hope he thoroughly enjoys the experience of driving these awesome cars. We got to know Ken through our partnership with the Gymkhana program and the World Rally Championship last year, where he impressed us with his dedicated approach, his technical feedback and his unique way of marketing the sport. We’re really looking forward to finding out what he thinks about our Formula One tires, and I’m sure that the millions of his fans around the world can’t wait to see him behind the wheel of a grand prix car. Ken seems to be a person who has done more or less everything in his career up to now – so I’m very glad that we were actually able to find a new experience for him!”