18-inch Michelin tyres on a Ferrari F138

Should F1 switch to larger wheel rims?

Debates and PollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

18-inch Michelin tyres on a Ferrari F138Recent rumours linking Michelin to a return as a tyre supplier in Formula One centred on their desire to see an archaic aspect of the F1 rules brought up-to-date.

Formula One wheel sizes have been fixed at 13 inches (330mm) for two decades even as the side of road car rims and racing cars in less restrictive series have increased. Pirelli are expected to remain F1’s single tyre supplier next year and 13-inch wheels will remain.

Michelin were believed to want to see F1 wheel sizes grow to 18 inches (457mm) – a significant increase. Is it time for F1 to catch up with developments in the world of wheels?

For

On a purely philosophical level, if Formula One is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor racing, an update to this area of the rules is long overdue. Formula One’s 13-inch wheels look oddly small compared to the larger wheels used in the World Endurance Championship and forthcoming Formula E series.

One might assume that where an F1 car is different from a road car it is because of reasons of performance. But in this case Formula One is well behind the times – modern road cars tend to have far smaller tyre aspect ratios than F1 machines.

Against

Stagnant areas of development in Formula One usually have two root causes: safety or costs, sometimes both. In this case it’s largely the latter. Limiting tyre development is a significant cost saving for teams.

To change the size of wheel rims now would force teams to redesign their suspension, which would also bring significant costs. And the new tyres would require further track testing – yet more costs. All this at a time when teams are already feeling the squeeze from expensive new engine regulations.

I say

18-inch Michelin tyres on a generic F1 carIt does seem strange to have the world’s fastest racing cars running on dinky wheels of dimensions so small it’s getting increasingly difficult to buy an equivalent for a road car. F1 does not use these smaller wheels for performance reasons, it’s purely a throwback in the regulations.

Given the choice there are many things I would like to change about F1’s current tyre rules. Given a red pen and a copy of the FIA Sporting Regulations I’d quickly strike out the obligation for drivers to use both tyre compounds during a race, and abolish the requirement for the top ten qualifiers to start the race on their used tyres from Saturday.

Of the many aesthetically displeasing characteristics of modern Formula One cars the bulging sidewalls so at odds with modern car design is not the most offensive. But it is another reminder of how F1 is falling further away from the cutting edge.

And I do rather like these illustrations of how F1 cars might look on (Michelin) 18-inch wheel rims.

You say

Do you think F1 should increase the size of its wheel rims? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should F1 increase wheel rim sizes to more than 13 inches?

  • Yes - to 19 inches or more (12%)
  • Yes - as high as 18 inches (53%)
  • No - keep it at 13 inches (23%)
  • No opinion (12%)

Total Voters: 461

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119 comments on “Should F1 switch to larger wheel rims?”

  1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    27th September 2013, 11:21

    No.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      27th September 2013, 11:40

      Just to explain my view;

      Having low profile tyres does not appeal to me because it’s more like a road car. It’s the same reason as my view on the new engines becoming more “road relevant”. I love Formula 1 for the fact that it’s so extremely unique. The speed, the noise and the grip.
      If I wanted Formula 1 to look and perform more relevantly to road cars, then i’ll just watch the WEC, or the V8 Supercars.

      From a fan’s POV, it shouldn’t be about “Let’s see how quickly we can make F1 realistic to everyday roads.”

      It’s the same reason you might play ridiculous video games. You play them because they’re ridiculous and not trying to replicate real life.

      F1 does not use these smaller wheels for performance reasons, it’s purely a throwback in the regulations.

      In my view, it’s all the more reason to keep these higher profile wheels in the sport. Formula 1 is already changing so quickly, with these 2014 regulations, and a vast expanse of Herman Tilke circuits that are on their way and are utterly rubbish and have no tradition at all.

      Formula 1 needs to keep all the tradition it can hold on to.

      1. I agree, largely, with your reasoning and motivation, but come to a separate conclusion.

        I don’t want F1 to mirror what is happening on the road, i want it to lead what is happening on the road, be that in terms of safety or performance.

        I’d be interested to know more about the performance or practicality benefits to having lower aspect ratios. Do they make the tyres grip better? they seem to have a more square shape – what is the benefit of this? Would punctures be less likely, due to smaller tyre walls? Would it make the tyres more dangerous – ie would a tyre made up of more metal be more of a hazard to marshals and other drivers?

        I’d be interested to hear a more developed argument, especially from a manufacturers POV – would it deter or tempt other manufacturers?

        1. And could the increased size have a cost/benefit gain in the brakes.

        2. +1
          Couldn’t agree more with you guys… I would be open to bigger rims if they manage to improve the car’s performance… unlike things like KERS, that is a technology with a very low specific power output (power to weight)…

    2. Yes.
      Wider rear tires withe 18″ rims with a lower profile would be perfect.
      Todays tires and rims don’t have that intimidating look that wider rear tires had in the past and larger rims would look more like road car.

  2. If anything, this reminds me of when we put big rims on our formula student concept. I hate to admit, but it looks terrible
    http://www.coroflot.com/njoydesign/Formula-Student

    Honestly, i find the current size rather cute, so I voted NO

    1. To be fair, the biggest problem for me there is the rim design, which makes it hard to decide of the rim size is actually bad.

      (sorry if it was you who designed the rims)

      1. the rims were scavenged from another project (for a road car) as we were running out of time. Their scale is my fault though))

        But this is just another highlight that not everything that is good for road cars is good in the world of formulas.

    2. I agree I too find the 13 cute. I also like those illustrations of 18’s but I still prefer the 13’s. As I’m staring to my f310b and f2002 models I’m reminded of how much did the 13’s enhance the wow factor of moving f1 cars.I think the 13’s look outdated because of the increase in wheelbase since 2010.

    3. You might be on to something. F1, the pinnacle of “cute”.

      Perhaps they should add some Hello Kitty touches and Little Tikes design cues.

  3. It does seem strange to have the world’s fastest racing cars running on dinky wheels of dimensions so small it’s getting increasingly difficult to buy an equivalent for a road car.

    It’s also difficult to buy road cars which weight as little as F1 cars, after-market aero parts as effective as F1 wings, or steering wheels as integral to the car and complex as those in F1. Maybe the tyre size should change (it would be nice to see it simply de-restricted, but that isn’t feasible), but that is not the reason why.

    I used to think larger rims would look strange, but I was wrong. That doesn’t stop me liking the relatively unique appearance of F1 tyres though, so aesthetics don’t really concern me either.

    I’d rather see a review carried out to assess which rim size (and the resulting changes in suspension) is likely to result in the fastest cars, then opt for that if it’s financially viable for most teams. It would be nice to see one of these rigid regulations based on maximum performance rather than an arbitrary number (as the rim size is now) or something intended to limit performance (strict engine regulations, wing dimensions, etc.).

  4. I have always found large wheel rims horrible aesthetically but its clear amongst car enthusiasts I am in the minority. And I have never understood what the performance gains are from larger rims when the F1 cars are able to be much more compliant over kerbs and bumps with the smaller rims but I am sure there is an obvious answer.

    Anyway, no is my answer. Even if I was in favour there are so many other things I would like changed first.

    1. @dworsley 19″ or 20″ rims would be indeed “horrible aesthetically”, but I think 17″ or 18″ would be perfect fit for a Formula 1 car. I really dig this look.

      I have never understood what the performance gains are from larger rims

      Larger rims can accommodate larger brakes, but that’s only important if we’re talking about road cars and racing series where brake development isn’t locked. In F1 low profile tyres would be easier to warm-up (no need for tyre-blankets). Low profile also means better structural integrity and less “bouncy” tyres. So when a car looses a wheel it’s less dangerous for bystanders.

      1. But also consider that a lower profile tyre would mean a larger hub, which would be heavier, making it more dangerous were it to get launched.

        Swings and roundabouts!

      2. Larger rims give many benefits, as well as having some downsides, and it’s all down to the situation.

        In general, lower profile tyres are “stiffer”, so will deflect less due to cornering forces, and Larger rims (as stated above) allow for larger brakes. There are many others. A larger rim, however, tends to be heavier.

        I am pretty certain, however, that the main reason they are used on road cars is for aesthetic reasons. This is similar to alloy wheels. They were originally used because they were lighter. You can now get cars with alloys which are much heavier than steel wheels. They are there purely for aesthetics.

        1. “I am pretty certain, however, that the main reason they are used on road cars is for aesthetic reasons”.
          Yes that is correct, but the origins of the aesthetic inspiration comes from Le Mans and Porsche Cup racing series. They have large rims and low profile tyres.

      3. Those bouncy tyres are actually integral part of suspension. So, changing them means huge cost to do complete redesign of suspensions.

        For me, those Formula E tyres look like some tuning gimmicks instead of high performance race tyres :D

      4. From my experience you always wanted the smallest wheel possible that would fit the brakes required to stop the vehicle from Vmax at the maximum rate that the tyre grip allows. Increasing the wheel size will increase the rotational inertia which means it will require more power to accelerate and more braking to slow down compared to smaller wheels. The only reason you would want to increase the brakes is for cooling and there are very few times you hear F1 cars having an issue with overheating brakes (usually caused by things getting stuck in the brake ducts). The reason other race series have larger wheels is often due to regulations not allowing a change from production wheel size. They are also often a lot heaver than an F1 car (approx 640kg F1 VS 1150kg WTCC) requiring a larger disk.

    2. @dworsley in road cars, bigger wheels and rims actually reduce performance, because makes the gear ratios longer and the wheels are a lot heavier.

      That being said, isn’t there a clear performance gain with this big walled, small tyres? I always supposed that it’s fundamental to the car behavior because the sidewall acts as a suspension, and effectively, the travel is a lot bigger with the tyres than the suspension.

      I don’t think team NEED bigger rims. Bigger wheels, for sure, as it increases the contact patch to the road. But bigger rims, not at all.

      I say: I don’t have a problem with these 13 inches. I never had. I’d love to have bigger tyres at the back like we used to have in the 80s, but I doubt that’s happening. It’s not an issue I think about every fortnight

  5. From a technical standpoint it would raise costs not only from the redevelopment of suspension components but would also likely have an aerodynamic impact due to the change in vehicle dynamics. Afterall lest we forget the significant challenges the teams faced at the start of this season from a change in philosophy from Pirelli and tyre construction. Increasing rim size would likely mean reducing the sidewall size to keep the same rolling radius thus changing the dynamic properties of the car. For these reasons alone it would be better (both technically and financially) to stick to 13″ wheels for the foreseeable future in my opinion, with the first opportunity for change coming around 2016/17.

    1. But a vote for a change in 2/3 years is a vote for a change, I also voted for a change with the caveat that it will need to be planned for well in advance.

  6. To me this is only an issue for Michelin, and their business case of wanting to get back into the sport.
    For the good of the sport the wheels need to stay at 13″ purely because several midfield teams are really beginning to struggle with funding. Change in F1 is fiendishly expensive, as we are now being made acutely aware of regarding next years engine and transmission units costing teams roughly double what they have been paying for their V8’s. When you have championship winning teams like Lotus and Williams struggling to find that money, this wheel/hub change is one too many at the moment. I won’t even begin with the Sauber and Sergey Sirotkin situation…

  7. 18 inch wheels and wider rear tires by 1 – 2 inches would look the best.

  8. I voted 13 inches.
    Although I think that a change to 18 inches would be good in many ways, but I simply cannot vote for it right now because of the costs of making such a change.
    With the new engine regs. putting all-ready economically pressured teams into much more trouble it is just not the time to make the switch.
    I know pay drivers isn’t a new thing, but it seems to get increasingly worse. Just look at the number of brilliant talents standing the sidelines, having to give way to average drivers with a very large checkbook.
    That is, very much a problem for F1 right now. Outdated tyres, is not. That can always be changed later on. But loosing Sauber or Williams is not going to be reversible.
    So while I am in favour of 18 inch wheels, I would rather have that they limit the costs of competing to help the struggling teams until a more financially sustainable solution can be agreed upon. And THEN they can make the change.
    We have had those tyres for decades. I think we can live with them for the next 5 years as well.

  9. Yes, I’d like to see the wheel sizes increased to 17 or 18 inches for 2015. Small wheels are a ridiculous anachronism. And they introduce an element into suspension design which is very hard to control or fine-tune, compared to suspension done via springs and dampers. It’s really sad how many people like the small wheels just because they’re used to it in F1, or to see people justify it because they want F1 to be different from any other form of wheel design. Yawn.

    1. I are agreeant.

    2. Me too, I think Keith missed an opportunity by not asking people to vote on what they would like to see rather than what they think the teams can afford.

  10. Not bothered. What does it matter.

    1. Then why did you comment?

    2. It matters for aerodynamics, it matters for suspension geometry and load paths into the chassis, it matters for spring rates and the range the dampers need to work over, it matters for the rim manufacturer marketing to consumers, it matters for safety, it matters for the drivers, it matters for aesthetics.

      So that’s engineers, drivers, fans and sponsors it’ll matter to, which including the governing body who will legislate for it, is pretty much everyone.

  11. I voted for the 13 inch rim because I actually like the bulging sidewall. I don’t agree that it is one “Of the many aesthetically displeasing characteristics of modern Formula One cars” to me that makes it look like a Formula One car. I actually thought the Bridgestone tyres didn’t bulge enough and was pleased that the Pirelli’s do bulge more. I’ve no other reason than that – I just like the look.

    1. You could put wheels and tires like this on your road car. Maybe you’d need to use 9- or 10-inch wheels to achieve the same ratio of sidewall height to tread width. Could also be quite a bouncy, flobbery ride, but hey – wheels are all about the look and nothing else, aren’t they?

  12. An F1 ‘balloon tyre’ weighs a bit more than a low-profile equivalent due to the extra five inches or so of sidewall. Shipping these extra heavy ‘balloon tyres’ around the world to however many locations is consequently more expensive than it would be to ship normal-style low-profile tyres. There is also the material cost – that rubber is presumably recycled, however, with five inches less sidewall then there would be material savings.

    Sure it is going to cost a bit more to test the cars on the new tyres, however, this is a one-off expense and, from then on, there is going to be on-going savings in rubber and shipping. To mitigate against cost the disc size for the brakes could be maintained to the 13″ standard.

    Despite what some people say, those Pirelli ‘balloon tyres’ are not a good advert for the sport (or even Pirelli), I think some innovation would be welcome. Who knows the change could actually help the mid-back-marker teams if they can somehow do a better job than the front-runners of adapting to this new change. Without giving it a go we will never know.

  13. Honestly, until I read this article, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about, and certainly the current wheels don’t bother me at all. They look they way they’ve looked for long time.

    Given that at present teams as well established as McLaren, Lotus and Sauber are struggling financially to greater or lesser degrees, let’s not fix something that probably isn’t broken. It would just cost teams a whole lot of money for no improvement to the racing.

    1. McLaren aren’t struggling financially – The F1 team is just having an off-year and is reviewing costs in the wake of the reduced prize money they’ll be accepting at the end of the year, as any company should do.

      The main company is in rude health.

      1. McLaren aren’t struggling financially

        There are strong rumours that Telmex haven’t paid them on time. I said “to greater or lesser degrees” because I’m not suggesting that McLaren are in the same boat as say Lotus – but even the Woking based team are having headaches.

  14. michelin’s slick wet weather tyres probably depended on the 18 inches rim

  15. I say leave well enough alone. Besides, the laws of physics say smaller diameter means quicker acceleration whereas larger diameter means more top end. I’ll go with acceleration in racing every time.

    There are far more urgent things that need changing before the size of the rims do. I know more than one thing can be changed at a time but to be honest, until you mentioned it now, the size of the rims wasn’t even in my mind. It’s simply not an issue.

    1. acceleration logic is not really applicable here as we are talking about rim diameter, not the overall diameter of the wheel, which would stay more or less the same

      for the rest of what you said, i agree

    2. @bealzbob
      You do realize we’re not talking about the outer diameter, but just the rim size, right? Complete wheel diameter would stay at about 26″ (to be precise: 660 mm with dry-weather tyres and 670 mm with wet-weather tyres).

      1. That being said, in drag racing, where acceleration is very important, they use big tyres and relatively small rims. However there are slightly different principles at work there. These tyres have relatively soft sidewall, which means that they have a huge initial contact area with the road. When the wheels start turning, they literally bite into the asphalt.

        Once they start going their geometry changes drastically (the diameter increases, but they become narrower, which helps with top speed). The problem is that these sidewalls can’t handle any serious cornering.

        1. wow, thanks for the pic, cool stuff

    3. That would only be true if you had no gears. You can always choose gears to suit the wheel size.

      In any case, as the others said, I don’t think the overall wheel size will change.

    4. Doh, yes, forgive me. Overall diameter would be staying the same so the acceleration/top end point is completely irrelevant.

      It then becomes a cost / aesthetics discussion to which I stick with my original vote. Leave well enough alone. Looking at the rim of a Formula E car, I don’t think it would particularly improve F1 or make F1 in any way ‘more relevant’ to today’s road cars in terms of tyre technology.

  16. Steve Hopkinson
    27th September 2013, 12:42

    I seem to remember that a couple of years ago a leading F1 engineer (possibly Brawn) said that moving to low-profile tyres would actually make the cars slower, in the short term at least. The compression that you get with current high-profile tyres is an essential part of the cars’ suspension, and in some ways is preferable to the behaviour of low-profile tyres. Switching to larger rims would mean a complete revision of the cars’ suspension and the way teams model suspension behaviour, which would be a major setback initially.

  17. For all these issues with costs, give the rules are fairly strict with regards to what a tyre can do (‘rotate’ is basically the limit of it) would the costs to change necessarily be that stratospheric, providing enough notice is given to teams so they can implement it into future car designs?

    The chassis rules are being tweaked for next year anyway, meaning teams are already likely to be redesigning their suspension and (unless they do a Ferrari or McLaren and go for a different concept entirely) as long as the main dimensions don’t change, there’s not a lot of airflow change.

    This is, of course, a layman’s view.

    1. it’s not just the airflow, it’s also the fact that current tyres act a lot like shock absorbers, allowing for less suspension travel. There are other things too, such as behaviour of the contact patch etc, which would require some dramatic changes to the suspension, when compared to what 2014 regs bring. In fact, I do not think we will see any noticeable changes to the suspension geometry of next year’s cars (other than Maccas who will be dropping front pull rod).

  18. Low profile also means better structural integrity and less “bouncy” tyres. So when a car looses a wheel it’s less dangerous for bystanders.

    They would also be heavier, maybe the cameraman hitted by Webbers tyre would be dead …
    I just want F1 cars to be fast, so what should I vote? People above said larger tyres would mean worse acceleration but better braking, is that true?

    michelin’s slick wet weather tyres probably depended on the 18 inches rim

    I think that those slick weather tyres would be great for Formula 1! :D

    Btw, now teams have to pay Pirelli for the tyres but if Michelin can use the +/- same tyres for Endurance and F1, that would mean less costs (and more road relevance) for Michelin and the teams would get cheaper tyres, no?

    1. @paeschli

      A larger diameter wheel (rim + tyre) is essentially like a ‘final’ final gear so for fixed gear ratios (like in a road car) yes it would result in poorer acceleration. However if the rim gets bigger the tyres will be made a lower profile so the net result will be the same. Even if not, the teams pick their own ratios, and next years engines have more torque.

      1. Also, regarding the costs to the teams, it’s not the cost of supplying the tyres which would be the problem, but the complete redesign of suspension and perhaps braking systems.

        Aerodynamically it would be rather pleasing, though.

  19. Would there be bigger brakes as a result?

    1. Exactly! The cooling will be easier and the brakes efficiency will increase.

  20. I’m with Keith, the ‘top-ten’ rule and the ‘both compounds’ rule are the first things that should go – scrap them for 2014. Sure, increase the size for 2015, but it’s too late for next year.

    1. Agreed… I’d even go one step further and have the choice of all four “hardnesses” available at any time (limit numbers to keep costs down if necessary.) I really don’t care if it’s faster (i.e. more winning) to do zero stops on hards or six stops on super softs. Just retain some limits on set-up changes between qualifying and the race. My gut feeling is that it would mix up the grid and lead to more overtaking and race position changes.

      1. Hmm.. It would be brilliant if every team could choose compounds for weekend. And maybe even pick only one compound (ie. prime and option both super softs etc) if they desire. It would raise costs a bit but reason behind those silly compound rules is that Bridgestone wanted that there is something to discuss about tyres after end of tyre war. Having that kind of tyre gamble every weekend would definitely keep tyres under discussion :-)

  21. I’d love to want to pretend to care about this issue but… I just can’t work up the enthusiasm.

  22. Living in Johannesburg where potholes are so deep, you lose mobile reception, I cannot understand the need to run anything over a 16″ Which is why I am quite happy to run them on my Sportage.
    With regards to F1, I think to move to a more “modern” size is long overdue.

  23. At approx 43% aspect ratio, it’s difficult to claim that the current F1 tyres are not in line with the aspect ratio of modern tyres. Yes some cars have tyres with lower aspect ratios than this, but not many.

    But I’m not really bothered either way.

  24. And some spinners

  25. While it was Michelin that initially began the push to go to 18″ rims, Should be noted that Pirelli also want to go to larger rims.

    When the teams rejected Michelin’s 18″ proposal back in the 2010 tender process, Pirelli put forward a compromise to go upto 15″ with the idea been to move to 18″ in the future.

  26. I voted no opinion because I don’t know how it would affect the performance of F1 cars. I would like someone with better understanding to jump and clarify it.
    Actually, in road car the high profile tires were introduced more as an aesthetic feature, rather then performance. And it became a trend. The best benefit of high profile tires is the driver has better feedback about speed, track, surface, cornering. It does offer also less rolling resistance. But on the other hand, it has worse acceleration and deceleration, less suspension and less contact patch which can affect cornering speed. Also, someone mentioned that it will bump less, which I don’t think is true because it is more stiff and carries more momentum.

    1. @caci99, you have some errors, particularly your second last sentence.

      1. @hohum I’d be happy if someone would correct and point to what is right. Or is it completely wrong so not worth correcting it :).
        Unfortunately I have no personal experience about low profile and high profile tires. But I can relate to some other experiences like bicycle. In a bicycle a low profile tire is stiffer and a lot bumpier, it has less traction and less brake power.

        1. @caci99, acceleration and deceleration, you are assuming greater inertial mass I presume which is not necessarrilly true, otherwise it is the outer circumference of the tyre that affects gearing, not rim size. The contact patch will also stay (fairly) constant if the outer diameter and width of the tyres remains the same, with an advantage more likely with LOW profile tyres.

          1. @hohum you are correct, I am assuming grater mass because of the rim. And this greater mass will shift outwards of the radius of the rim, thus making it carry more momentum.
            On the other hand a low profile does have stiffer sidewall, and as result deforms less, reducing the contact patch. One would also tend to inflate with more air pressure such tire, I guess.
            But I am surely guessing, would have been interesting someone with good insight of the matter to write a thorough article about the tires and their influence on F1 cars.

  27. redbull’s vision on future of F1 is this

    http://www.indiancarsbikes.in/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Red-Bull-X1-race-car-in-Gran-Turismo-5-image.jpg

    18 inchers would fit that without destroying the looks of it. Also, with turbo i gues, a bigger wheel diameter would transfer the torque easier?? any tech insight into that, anybody plz?

  28. I’d have liked a more specific option in the poll where I could voice my preference for the happy medium of 15″ wheels.

    1. @guilherme “As high as 18 inches” is intended to cover that.

  29. The rim diameter should be based on engineering choices, or compromises, made by each team and taking into consideration many factors such as performance, cost, weight, aero, safety etc… Considering this, maybe 13″ is the best solution, but maybe it isn’t. One thing is sure, a fixed rule makes the use of 13″ rims artificial.

  30. FYI the first to ask for 18 inches wheels were Pirelli three years ago, that’s were the idea comes from…

    1. Michelin certainly did when they were considering a return in 2010. I don’t recall Pirelli saying likewise, perhaps you could refresh my memory?

  31. It could be 14 or 15, but WHY 18 ??

    I don’t know whether those wheels in the pics are 18 inch wheels or not, but they look HIDEOUS.

    End.

    1. @shrieker

      I don’t know whether those wheels in the pics are 18 inch wheels

      You mean the ones that are labelled “18-inch Michelin tyres…” and described as “illustrations of how F1 cars might look on (Michelin) 18-inch wheel rims”?

      1. Yes, I saw the labels after posting. Thanks.

        On a side note, I always thought the wheels on WEC cars looked funky. On F1 cars, they look totally out of place unfortunately.

  32. I voted No and stay on 13′ because Formula 1 shouldn’t follow other racing series, other racing series should follow Formula 1.
    Formula still is the pinnacle of Motorsport

    1. That pinnacle is suffering some serious erosion.

  33. I would say yes, they should update them to a size that’s more relevant. HOWEVER, I think mayhaps it should wait another year or two until the engine development has settled so that the small teams can survive.

  34. @keithcollantine Seeing the second image of the car without a livery made me wonder… Has anyone ever designed an F1 Fanatic livery? That would be really cool to see.

    1. @pandaslap You’ve never got a 404 error here, then? :-)

      1. @keithcollantine lol… I guess not :)

        Still, I would love to see the livery on one of the realistic images.

    2. Didn’t @ajokay once design an F1F-sponsored F1 car?

      1. I did. But it was an HRT with the ‘Your Name Here’ bits replaced with F1Fanatic logos.

  35. Voted 19 or bigger.

    The less Pirelli tires the better :)

  36. I voted no as it’s not about making the wheels look like a modern car because no other part of an F1 car looks like any other car in the world. These “archaic” rules were originally put in place to limit brake disc sizes and thus efficiency. I would expect all sorts of problems arising in the braking and suspension aspects of the car which potentially would have a negative effect on racing. I urge people to rethink all the implications in voting yes as I can only see worse racing from a change to bigger wheels.

  37. I’d welcome the change, as the cars are changing as well and it would probably not take much getting used to.

    Thing is, with the changes coming up next year and their cost, it’s probably going to be too much to deal with for a lot of teams any time soon. The added testing would take a lot of planning and money, plus, if one team got more testing in than the others (Merc this year) there will be more drama.

    In the future, I’ll be for it, but not any time soon.

  38. If the option is either 13″ or 18″ tyres then I prefer 13″, but I do think there should be a change in the future so for me the best solution would be 15″.

  39. Larger rim with lower profile tyre is the better solution from an engineering perspective. That should be the only thing to consider. So I’ve voted for 18″ wheels with low profile tyres.

    1. I agree, although I voted 19+ because it was the only option open to optimisation.

  40. I thought it was well know that Pirelli also wanted to change to large wheels/tyres. It was a straightforward common sense matter, the torque from next years engine+ERS will be very much greater than is available this year. More torque requires more track contact or a bigger contact patch. Pirelli wanted to make the tyres wider and of a larger diameter. If we keep the same wheels/tyres as this year they are obviously going to:
    a) Spin a lot unless traction control is allowed back. and
    b) Wear out quicker.
    I would have thought that fairly obvious, but the teams had already designed their new chassis and bigger wheels means different suspension geometry and fixing points. Different unsprung mass, roll centres and heave characteristics, in fact it’s all different, so they said no. But they will struggle with tyres next year.

  41. Let’s get to the real reason for wanting bigger rear wheels, cos it will benefit Mercedes. They’ve already mentioned that they would like to have bigger wheels to give them the grip with the power they will get from the engine.

  42. I say no because the trend of big wheels on road cars is dumb. It is just like the trend of making every subsequent generation of car bigger and heavier. There is absolutely no reason why a Honda Civic with a 11″ brake rotor needs an 18″ wheel and why it is as big as a mid 90s accord.

    1. @thejaredhuang I think the general trend of ever-growing cars is a safety thing. Crumple zones, airbags, clearance for heads and limbs in the event of a roll. The tyres are just a ‘sporty’ look though, even though what’s quick on track is rarely, if ever, quick on the road.

  43. If it ain’t broke, dont fix it.

  44. 18″ rims on an F1 car looks awesome.

  45. No, I don’t quite like them. It looks like it came out from PIMP MY RIDE garage. I like the current wheels. They’re 1 of the unique visual features of F1. Also, I don’t like F1 being road-relevant. This should be the pinnacle of motorsport, not some test-bed series for road cars new tech !! There’re lots of series, road relevant, to step on for this position. But why did they jump to 18” rims ?!? The gap is too obvious for not creating mixed feelings. Why not taking it step by step. Why not try 14” or 15” rims ??

  46. I do agree Formula 1 should have cutting-edge tyre technology, but that also requires the return of a tyre war. With standardized tyres, it makes no sense to change the tyres any way.

  47. In my opinion this is such a non issue. Change such an important aspect of the car so late in the year when all teams have already designed their chassis. In a year with already a major engine regulation change. Causing more cost pressures on all teams. Why? Because it looks sportier in some people opinions and would make it more “road relevant”? Please, let’s stop with this now.

  48. The only reason to do this, and indeed the only reason tyre manufacturers want this, is road relevance to help promote their road products. Low profile tyres are not beneficial from a performance perspective. It would require much softer and longer travelling suspension, and would significantly reduce grip and the scope for changing pressures. With a bigger sidewall, the tyre is more capable of conforming to track surfaces, which means more grip. It also gives much more room for changing tyre pressures to change performance of the tyre (heat up, grid start launch grip, wear rates). I’m not sure of the exact differences in aero performance, but as far as mechanical grip, a very well informed technician friend of mine once told me that, within reason, higher profile tyres are better for racing. I think they could probably go as big as 15″ rims, whilst still keeping a good profile. Obviously the point of going to 18s is purely for road relevence, and hence marketing purposes for the supplier. The ONLY advantage of bigger rim/lower profile is weight as far as I can see. Rubber weighs more than a few inches of spindly magnesium spokes. However, that could prove a double edged sword, as it’ll mean the wheels are far more likely to break in wheel to wheel bumps or even light contact with barriers, as we see in Monaco and Singapore. That means flying shards of magnesium. All in all, I say keep them as is, or at most increase to 15″

  49. Increasing the tire/wheel size would have a huge engineering impact on the car.

    [1] Increased drag
    [2] Increased unsprung weight
    [3] Increased rotational inertia and gyroscopic effects

    These would require changes to the suspension, steering system, brake system, body design and aerodynamics at the least. There is absolutely nothing trivial about making a change like this.

  50. Voted no because I can’t see a good reason to change it. It won’t increase performance, it will increase costs to redesign suspension and all other affected aspects, it won’t do anything to change issues that need to be fixed long before changing the way F1 cars look just for the sake of change. I would much rather see rule changes that would make for less turbulent air when following another car closely and attempting to pass. Less aero, more grip, those would be examples of positive rule changes.

    I can’t honestly find one single good reason to change F1 wheels to a taller size.

    1. +1 thats what needs to be changed.

  51. Seems like the people that want it kept at 13 inches are the most vocal but its obvious from the poll that a large majority, me included, would like a change to 17 to 18 inches.

    1. Apart from cosmetic reasons, why? Not to be argumentative, just curious.

  52. Excelent analysis, first of all. Now, I think increasing wheel diameter would be a good idea for Formula 1, as would increasing engine volume, budgets and last, but not least, balls. Also, another tire war would be very much apreciated, i believe. So, the main problem with F1, at this time, is this idiotic FIA belief that motorsport (it’s supposed pinnacle, more exactly) has to be, somehow, “cheap”. Everything about F1 is made to be expensive. It’s very foundation is to be the highest standard in motorsport, at any cost. And now, it very much isn’t that. Actually, it’s starting to get further away from beeing as good as it can be and that upsets me (and I don’t think I’m the only one) quite a lot. You simply can’t be the greatest, the fastest or “the best” in anything, while your main concern is not to get hurt or spend too much. (That’s why there is no low-cost business class. That’s why you don’t go into a fancy restaurant saying: “Your best champagne, please. Oh, and…make sure it’s not very expensive.”. It just dosen’t make any sense)
    So, in my opinion, the 13″ wheels are just the tip of a very slippery iceberg…
    (I realise I’m a bit off-topic, but I hope you can understand my reasoning)

  53. It would really harm the racing. The larger brakes would mean very few out-breaking overtakes (so DRS only). The lack of compliancy in the tyre would make the cars turn unbellievably qjick – initially a plus, but it would be very difficult to drive and close racing would suffer. And powerlides and drifts would dissapear because the cars would be too twitchy to correct and balance in the limit. I also enjoy seeing slo-mo shots of tyre deformation. And Gordon Murray loves high profile tyres, and he has a moustache.

  54. dont fix whats not broken…

  55. I think wheel size should be reduced to 10″. Then cars could start using 6 or 8 wheels (sorry…a Tyrrell P-34 joke). Seriously tho, any wheel change should be aimed at improved tire durability. I’m sick and tired of listening to radio orders to “slow down, save the tires”. These are the best drivers in the world. The sport is called “racing”. It is becoming the story of the tortoise and the hare. I hate it.

  56. I’m not a fan of big wheels.

    It’s a Formula1 car, not a road car. They should not be “road relevant”, people don’t moan about wheel sizes in karts or whatever.

    Maybe we can discuss their ride height next. Should they go for 15cm, like road cars? Maybe parking sensors that beep when another car is following you closely.

    1. @alves that last one is an idea, but then put them in the sides of the car to avoid contact, even if only because that sounds so annoying!

  57. I need more information on how this would affect the performance of the cars as i haven’t seen anything that fully explains this. From what i have heard i would conclude that an increase in wheel rim size would result in the following:

    1) Heavier wheels overall meaning more energy required to accelerate and decelerate
    2) Larger wheels can accommodate larger brake discs, increasing potential braking power. However, i don’t know if braking is already limited by tyre traction in which case larger brakes may make no difference to performance.
    3) Not read this but my theory – lower profile tyres would have less deflection, meaning a smaller contact patch and lower overall grip. Although perhaps tyre compound and construction can compensate for this.
    4) A question more than a point – how would lower tyre profiles affect the ‘designed to degrade’ tyres currently used in F1? I expect similar characteristics could be designed in.

    Overall my reasoning leads to me thinking there would be a reduction in performance, but if other racing series’ use them maybe i am wrong. Would like to hear an explanation if that is the case. In my opinion it would need more than ‘road relevence’ to justify the cost of redesigning suspension (and other elements), even if it is planned a few years in advance.

  58. Put 18″ rims on your 13″ stock rims car, with appropriate tyres and see how your back and teeth feel in about a month. Changing rim size changes EVERYTHING, even if wheel diameter stays the same. Not a good ideea. Open wheel cars need beefy tyres.

  59. mountaintopsage
    11th February 2014, 15:44

    When I was young, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, tires were all much higher in profile. Sports cars sported 70 series tires, and really, really sporty cars used 60 series tires. Race cars used 50 series tires (still used today). It was said that 50 series tires were pretty much the limit for safety, as anything less would not hold enough air. Modern, ultra-low profile street tires tend to be quite stable, because of the short side walls, but hold so little air that they heat up very fast, and with the high cornering loads and hard braking found in racing, the tire’s carcasses would over-heat causing catastrophic failures. Back then, the 50 series tire was considered the best compromise between safety and stability. It is likely that the 50 series tire is still the best compromise between stability and safety.

  60. No. Wheels should remain the same size. Smaller wheels are lighter, they have less rotating mass, and less gyroscopic force to overcome.

  61. I design wheels in light alloy wheel company, so here are facts I can give:

    F1 wheels are light as a feather compared to 18″ wheels not only because of alloy but also because of size.

    Heavier wheels would decrease the speed of Pit Crews.

    If a heavier wheel gets loose and crashes into s/o or sthg, it would cause more damage than a lighter one does at the same speed and situation.

    Obviously bigger wheels are heavier. So they make the car heavier and hamper maneuverability.

    Weight increases fuel consumption.

    They need more power to get them start turning and more power to stop them.

    They require lower tyre walls to have a reasonable overall diameter causing more impact on wheel itself and suspensions from the track surface.

    F1 is about extreme performance, and we already see its relevant technologies on the road. Sure it gets longer to get to ordinary passenger cars, but we get there. While trying to make it look road relevant, people risk damaging the sport irreversibly and hampering forefront technology research. I understand and totally support the effort to make it greener but trying to over-tame F1 frustrates fans.

  62. Firmly against 18″ wheels. F1 cars are open cockpit, open wheel racing machines. If you want road relevance go to WEC or Touring Cars. F1 is the pinnacle of motor-SPORT. And the ladder to F1 begins with karting. I love the fact that the wheels of an F1 car resemble those of a kart, therefore tying all of the disciplines together.

  63. Elijah Hallandal
    26th February 2015, 19:03

    What’s the point to change wheel size purely because bigger wheels look nicer? Formula 1 cars are developed to go fast and win races, not car shows. Unless there is significant proof that the change would be beneficial then maybe, but if not then they are costing themselves money, but nothing in return. It doesn’t matter what the car looks like if it’s winning races. Although, with these V6 turbo engines it’s hard to say it doesn’t matter what they sound like because that noise…So, I say no to the bigger wheels.

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