Should F1 switch to larger wheel rims?

Debates and Polls

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?


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.


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

  2. Shrieker (@shrieker) said on 27th September 2013, 14:31

    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.


    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th September 2013, 14:44


      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”?

  3. 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

  4. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 27th September 2013, 15:27

    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.

  5. Pandaslap (@pandaslap) said on 27th September 2013, 15:28

    @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.

  6. tvm (@) said on 27th September 2013, 15:29

    Voted 19 or bigger.

    The less Pirelli tires the better :)

  7. 370HSSV (@370hssv) said on 27th September 2013, 16:01

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. mantresx (@mantresx) said on 27th September 2013, 16:18

    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″.

  10. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 27th September 2013, 17:21

    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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Jared H (@thejaredhuang) said on 27th September 2013, 18:58

    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.

    • MuzzleFlash (@muzzleflash) said on 27th September 2013, 19:05

      @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.

  14. Phil (@minihulk69) said on 27th September 2013, 20:11

    If it ain’t broke, dont fix it.

  15. 18″ rims on an F1 car looks awesome.

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