Pirelli 13-inch and 18-inch tyres, Yas Marina, 2018

Pirelli targets first track test of 18-inch tyres this year

2019 F1 season

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Pirelli plans to give the new 18-inch tyres it will introduce for the 2021 Formula 1 season their first track test later this year.

Last year Pirelli was awarded a new tender to continue as the sport’s official tyre supplier from 2020 to 2023. Part of the deal stipulated F1 will drop the current 13-inch wheel format at the end of next season.

A Pirelli spokesperson told RaceFans that, contrary to reports, it has not already decided to begin track testing of its 18-inch tyres in June. It expects to begin on-track development in the second half of 2019.

However it first needs to obtain a suitable car to run the tyres on. This is made complicated by the fact that the new wheel format is the only aspect of the 2021 technical regulations which is known at present. The move to larger rims and thinner sidewalls will force teams to overhaul their suspension designs.

Pirelli will conduct initial development of its new rubber for 2021 at its research and development facility in Milan, which has been home to its F1 tyre project since returning to the sport in 2011.

The manufacturer previously demonstrated a set of 18-inch tyres using a Lotus chassis during the 2014 season.

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2019 F1 season

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 23 comments on “Pirelli targets first track test of 18-inch tyres this year”

    1. The move to larger rims and thinner sidewalls will force teams to overhaul their suspension designs.

      Really wonder how the teams are going to manage. The budget cap will have started by then, cutting more year by year, and then bam, 2021 comes, with a complete overhaul of suspensions, and other big changes if Liberty’s intentions come to fruition.

      1. Another reason why the rules should be annouced ASAP to make it viable especially for the smaller outfits, as they will have to start work quite early on @fer-no65

        1. no no no. announcing rule changes now just gives us another Mercedes situation. They couldn’t catch up in the ICE era so they just went after the 2013 changes to hybrid and we were left with teams way off their pace. Big budgets plus time equals disaster for the rest. Someone like Force India may be much more dynamic than a Mercedes at building a car quickly with little lead on to the rule changes.

        2. @bascb it’s a fine balance, isn’t it? I sort of agree with Tony Mansell, giving the teams plenty of time can lead to someone throwing billions at it and creating a massive gap to the others. We’d just have what we have now but with potentially different names.

          But if they wait too long, then the smaller teams won’t have time to do anything either

          1. Yeah, it is tricky @fer-no65. Then again, the big teams will always throw more than enough money at things, and especially if the rules come late, they will just throw in extra money to speed things up, something smaller teams cannot afford to do.

            And this time the situation is quite different. In 2010 it was Red Bull more or less alone on top, Mercedes knew that their car platform might be good enough for a win here and there, but not for a championship fight. So they really had little to lose by throwing everything at the new engine format while chipping away at improving their aero ideas.
            This time around it looks like things are relatively close between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull (if Honda plays ball) – so all of them would have to divide resources between in season development to have a shot at the championships and developing for the new format. And who knows, maybe Renault will by then also be a factor to count with.

      2. Its perfect with a big overhaul after the budgetcap sets in. Everyone have to start fresh on equal (in theory) budgets.

      3. Very interesting reading. Thank you @fer-no65, @bascb, tony mansell.

        Why the move from 13 to 18-inch? I’ve missed what the point was or, more likely, I’ve forgotten!

        1. @shimks
          It looks cooler. You can really tell a premium car from its large rims…

          1. It’s all personal preference. I hate the 18” look. 13’s look unique because no one else uses them. Just gonna cost the teams a lot of money to be trendy and how are they going to get the cars low enough with these tall ass tires?

        2. @shimks looks. That’s the main thing. They say “low profile tyres is what cars use these days” so they are going for it…

          1. @rethla @fer-no65

            Hahaha!!! You fools! That gave me a right laugh! :O)

            1. @shimks it wasn’t a joke tho! :P

        3. @shimks Part of it is because they see larger rims as been more relevant given how pretty much all the more sporty road cars run on larger rims now.

          Part of it is also cost as F1 is the only top category still running such small rims so they have to produce F1 specific compounds, Constructions & moulds. With F1 running 18″ along with other categories they can share more data between categories as well as moulds which helps them from a cost perspective.

          Additionally there are performance benefits. Michelin ran some test’s with a Renault world series car a few years back & found a 1 second performance gain on 18″ rims with minimal adjustment to the car. I believe that a reason for this is that with the larger/softer sidewall’s from 13″ rims most of the vertical travel comes from the sidewall of the tyre which teams have less control over. With smaller/stiffer tyre sidewall’s I gather it puts more emphasis on suspension setup.

          1. Many thanks for the information, @gt-racer; that’s very interesting. The influence of the height of the sidewall does make a lot of sense.

    2. Are they going to introduce a larger brake disk also in 2021? From what I’ve seen, 18″ wheels with a small disc looks ugly on FE cars. If performance gain is an issue, maybe make the brake disc thinner?

      1. Or go back to steel discs

        1. It might be worth a though to test that idea @hollidog. Since the larger diameter would allow for larger steel discs, that could work. It might make braking a bit more of a factor again too, since steel would not offer all the advantages of the carbon brakes they have now.

          1. @bascb, tests have indicated that there really isn’t as much of a difference as you might think – Jaguar Racing did actually test grey iron and carbon brakes back to back in the early 2000s and found that there was very little difference in terms of the stopping distance. Most of the advantages from the carbon compounds came from secondary factors – reduced cooling requirements and reduced unsprung weight being the main factors – rather than the outright stopping power.

            Similarly, Patrick Head recounted that Alex Zanardi carried out a similar test in the late 1990s when he asked to switch back from carbon to steel disks, as he was not used to the bite point of the carbon disks used in F1 at the time. Again, Head noted that the steel brakes were basically the same in terms of braking power and that the advantages came from other areas. Overall, I suspect that it probably would not make that much of a difference in practise.

      2. I would assume larger but thinner rotors so the mass is equaled out. Performance wouldn’t change then since equal mass would mean equal ability to handle heat and the tires are the limiting factor for stopping distance.

        1. @lancer033
          Performancewise you want the mass as close to the middle as possible.

    3. I think you mean ‘spokesperson’ rather than sportsperson.

      1. Ahhhh a true word in jest. Or is that Jerest.?
        So the jump to larger wheels, totally different tyres….. should cause an evolution (or is that revolution) in brakes, totally different aero as now there is more opportunity blow through the wheels, different chassis aero as the flow is totally different and we haven’t started on the suspension and chassis dynamics.
        This is going to be a totally different beast. Will we see some prototype enclosed endurance cars banging around test tracks with F1 components under the skin.?
        From a technical perspective, this is awesome. A full on leap into he future. From a sporting perspective, not so sure.

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