Differences in testing in summer and winter time

The biggest challenge for the development of tyres is to find the happy medium between several desired properties. There are dozens of different properties that continuously contradict each other. For example, it is easy to develop easily rolling tyres – you just design tyres with a low rolling resistance. But at the same time, you have to consider the driving properties of the tyre. The tyres need a rigid structure for this, whereas low weight makes the rolling resistance smaller. A similar contrast is created when thinking about grip in wet conditions and the speed of tyre wear. When we have found this happy medium, we can concentrate on the tyre as a whole and making innovations in development.

Winter tyres: Minimizing the changing conditions

Winter tyres are tested in both winter and summer conditions. Of course, we focus primarily on the winter properties, that is, performance in snowy, icy, and sludgy conditions, but we do not forget dry and wet asphalt, because winter tyres are also used on those surfaces and they must always perform safely.

Conditions create definitely the biggest challenge for tyre tests. Ice and snow create the most difficult conditions for the testing situation. When three or four different tests are carried out each day, an identical driving surface should be available for each test. Maintaining a consistent driving surface for several days or even weeks is very challenging, because the track properties change, for example, during late winter when the sun warms the track. This affects the test results too much. This is why our testers sleep in the daytime and work at night at this time of the year, because the conditions remain more consistent during night frost.

Summer tyres: tests in the southern sun

Compared with winter tyres, testing summer tyres is performed with higher and more diversified tyre speed ratings. When developing tyres for, e.g., the Ultra High Performance class, we often have to travel abroad to perform the tests, because we do not have tracks where we could drive 300 km/h in a controled way here in the North. For this tyre rating, suitable test tracks can be found in, e.g., Germany, England, France, Italy, Spain, and Southern Africa where we do a lot of testing.

From my point of view, the most important property related to safety is a well-functioning entirety and good performance in extreme situations. I choose my tyres on the basis of driveability and, to some extent, visual appearance. I have to cave in on driving comfort a bit, because when the diameter is increased, the aspect ratio changes as well. However, this improves driveability and makes driving more accurate and stable.

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