Pirelli push to drop 13-inch wheels

F1 tyre sup­plier wants wheel rims 18-inches or larger as of 2016

F1 Racing - - IN­SIDER -

F1 took a step to­wards low-pro­file tyres when Lo­tus did a demon­stra­tion run on 18-inch wheels at the Sil­ver­stone test. Tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers are keen to move away from 13-inch wheels, which they feel are out­dated in the con­text of devel­op­ments in the road-car in­dus­try.

French com­pany Miche­lin, be­lieved to be the favoured choice of most teams as F1’s next tyre sup­plier from 2017, have made it clear they would pre­fer For­mula 1 to use larger wheels. And Pirelli say they would be pre­pared to sup­ply 18-inch wheels from 2016, the last year of their cur­rent con­tract, if F1 bosses want to make the switch.

Be­hind the scenes, Pirelli have been push­ing for 19- or even 20-inch wheels. Pirelli mo­tor­sport boss Paul Hem­bery said the idea be­hind the test was “to show peo­ple what a cur­rent car would look like with a change in rim”.

The Lo­tus was driven by Lo­tus re­serve driver Charles Pic, and Hem­bery said the test had: “con­firmed what we knew, which was that the front tyre will cre­ate a very ag­gres­sive turn-in”.

Larger wheels would also have sig­nif­i­cant ram­i­fi­ca­tions for car de­sign­ers, since they have a ma­jor im­pact on aero­dy­nam­ics, sus­pen­sion and brakes. They af­fect the flow of air around the car and will re­quire sus­pen­sion with greater travel be­cause the tyres cur­rently ac­count for a ma­jor part of the im­pact ab­sorp­tion of For­mula 1 cars, and the cur­rent brake sizes would no longer fill the wheels.

High-pro­file 18-inch Pirelli wheels were demon­strated by Lo­tus in a test at Sil­ver­stone

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