Pirelli to run F1 car on 18-inch wheels in test

2014 F1 season

18-inch Michelin tyres on a Ferrari F138Pirelli will run an F1 car on 18-inch wheels during next week’s test at Silverstone as its urges the sport to consider a move towards larger wheels.

F1’s official tyre supplier says its 18-inch prototype tyres are “fully functional” and will be used for demonstration runs during the test next week using Lotus’s current car.

“The 13-inch tyre is no longer relevant to the everyday road user, because even an 18-inch tyre is used by standard vehicles these days,” said motorsport director Paul Hembery.

“While 18-inch tyres would be a big step for Formula One, there are many other motorsport series that already use this size. So there’s scope to go even bigger than that in Formula One in years to come.

“In order to underline F1’s role as a test bed for future mobility solutions, we believe that it benefits everybody to have as close a link between road car tyres and competition tyres as possible: a belief we have held ever since we introduced the low profile tyre from competition to road use back in the 1970s.

“However, we’d like to emphasise that this move is not something that we are actively pushing for, as our role in Formula One is not to instigate changes. Instead, it’s to help teams and drivers make the most out of the equipment, regulations and resources they have at their disposal – whatever they decide that framework is going to be.”

Pirelli acknowledged that moving to 18-inch tyres would mean less space for their branding on the wheel rims.

The above image is an artist’s impression of how 18-inch wheels would look on a recent F1 car.

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59 comments on Pirelli to run F1 car on 18-inch wheels in test

  1. DK (@seijakessen) said on 4th July 2014, 17:29

    “In order to underline F1’s role as a test bed for future mobility solutions, we believe that it benefits everybody to have as close a link between road car tyres and competition tyres as possible: a belief we have held ever since we introduced the low profile tyre from competition to road use back in the 1970s.”

    So why make tires that degrade as fast as they do, and do not hold up under on-the-limit driving?

    lol, such self-serving garbage.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th July 2014, 17:33

      @seijakessen

      So why make tyres that degrade as fast as they do, and do not hold up under on-the-limit driving?

      Because that’s what they were asked to make.

      • matiascasali (@matiascasali) said on 4th July 2014, 18:03

        also, i don’t think a Fiat Punto, or a Peugeot 208 can stand 4g of lateral and 5G longitudinal acceleration, or get up to 80 c°, right? the same with the PU, how many road cars go about an hour and a half reving up to 12000rpm?

        • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 4th July 2014, 18:34

          Race tyres need to balance grip and durability.
          Road tyres need to balance grip and durability.

          Also, if you know how to make an efficient engine that revs to 12000rpm last 5000 miles, you can use that knowledge to make a road engine that revs to 7000rpm last 100000 miles.

        • Breno (@austus) said on 4th July 2014, 19:51

          Im led to believe the V6 LaFerrari did pretty well =P

      • Jason (@jason12) said on 4th July 2014, 19:31

        @keithcollantine
        If they’re building degrad tyres as requested, they must making misleading utterances like:

        we believe that it benefits everybody to have as close a link between road car tyres and competition tyres as possible: a belief we have held ever since we introduced the low profile tyre from competition to road use back in the 1970s

        It’s a contradiction in terms.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 5th July 2014, 3:57

        Sad but true, the novelty has worn off now so it’s time for something new, I don’t know how the suspension (or driver) is going to stand up to non-compliant low-profile tyres though.

        • kpcart said on 5th July 2014, 6:40

          why is it a novelty? having low profile tyres on a single seater is more a novelty. some things in single seaters should remain, ie open face cockpit, and wide slick tyres. these other things can be done on lemans prototypes

  2. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 4th July 2014, 17:29

    Best Pirelli decision, since they’ve come to F1.

  3. Michael Brown said on 4th July 2014, 17:34

    I think 18 inch wheels would be good for F1. Easier to heat up, although the added weight would be a detriment. F1 cars need to be much lighter anyway.

    • anon said on 4th July 2014, 17:55

      The rate at which tyres tend to heat up tends to be as much a function of the actual construction of the tyre and the nature of the rubber compound (IndyCar, for example, has no problems with running on relatively high profile 15 inch tyres).

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th July 2014, 17:34

    Some of you may recall we had a debate on this very topic last year and more than half supported a move to larger wheel rims:

    Should F1 switch to larger wheel rims?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th July 2014, 6:23

      I think its great if Pirelli adds the opportunity to try it out to the discussion. IMO there is no good reason to stay on 13″ wheels apart from maybe saving the cost to rethink the suspension and learn new aerodynamics to work best with bigger rims

  5. Strontium (@strontium) said on 4th July 2014, 17:39

    Very interesting. I think larger rims look uglier, but more futuristic.

    It doesn’t bother me personally though, and nor do aesthetics. If they do it, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

  6. Nick (@npf1) said on 4th July 2014, 17:46

    Wait, something sensible? Does the FIA know? Have Todt and Ecclestone taken steps against this yet?

    Unless Pirelli is going to test double tyres or tyres that produce sound and isn’t telling us..

  7. David not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 4th July 2014, 17:47

    Current Team Enstone car? Or perhaps the Lotus Evora?

    Anyway I’m not pushing for this and prefer the way it is today as one of the unique things about F1, but it’s not like it’s the Super Bonus Season Finale Double Points Bonanza or standing restarts or trumpets one the back of the car……..

  8. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 4th July 2014, 17:56

    Voted ”NO” last time when this matter was discussed and I still say NO. Doesn’t really work with this kind of car. It’s better to keep them beefy. It’s 1 of the unique features of this particular sport and visuals matter too. Then, I don’t know who looks at racing in general, but at F1 even more so, if it’s road relevant or not. Personally, I’m not at all. I’m for the show, not making all kind of calculations if those technologies could be under the body of my car or not. I just take IT as it is. It is known generally anyway that race cars are “special”, that’s why most of them are not allowed on public roads. So, who cares if F1 cars have something to do with the road cars or not ?!? I think only the constructors care about this part, they mention it every time it’s needed, that’s why I’m thinking the big car companies like (Mercedes and Renault now) are 1 of the big dangers for F1. They care just about the image and if it’s road relevant. Mercedes’ threat to leave F1 if V6s are not adopted is the latest proof.

  9. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 4th July 2014, 17:59

    I don’t see this as a massive necessity… bth, I don’t think they look that nice, but appart from looks, I don’t see much benefit in the change…

  10. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 4th July 2014, 18:14

    Not exactly a cost cutting measure if the FIA does decide to go ahead with this in the future. Seems it would guarantee redesign of suspension components and possibly aero too.

    Interesting to see how a move like this would be justified if approved by the powers that be. Road car relevance, improved performance or to bring in new fans because of the look?

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 4th July 2014, 18:25

      It’s my hypothesis that this is purely road relevance – for Pirelli. In the past, tyre companies could say ‘buy our tyres, we rule in F1!’, but with a single supplier, the current ‘built not to last’ request and Pirelli not being aimed at the average Golf/Vectra driver, I think Pirelli prefer running something of which they can use the data of in a broader perspective, rather than a tyre which you can’t even relate to other racing series.

      If given the time, (as in, the decision taken before november or later) the teams should be able to develop a new year’s car as they used to, without that much loss of data, I’d imagine.

    • Andreas said on 4th July 2014, 18:46

      It could end up saving the teams lots of money, if the regulation change to 18″ wheels also includes a move to steel brakes. The small wheels they run now makes it impossible to run anything but carbon brakes (at a huge expense), while the larger wheel diameter could easily hold the larger steel disc setup.

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 4th July 2014, 19:10

        They use carbon brakes because they don’t fade, they are better and lighter, not because they cannot fit steel brakes within the rim.

        If anything, they’d run bigger carbon brake discs if the regulations allow them.

        • anon said on 4th July 2014, 19:34

          As you say, steel brakes are technically feasible for the current generation of F1 cars – when Jaguar entered the sport, they tested steel brakes and found that, provided adequate cooling could be provided, there was no significant difference in braking distance.
          However, carbon brakes were preferred for a number of reasons – safety being one major reason (steel brakes were found to be more likely to crack or warp under heavy braking loads), along with reduced unsprung weight and, as you say, greater resistance to fade at high temperature.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 6th July 2014, 8:55

          could go larger but thinner discs, making heat management easier (more surface).

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 4th July 2014, 19:48

      @bullmello This was never sold to be a cost-cutting measure. In fact, this should increase spending quite a lot as the current tires are roughly 50% of the suspension travel. Re-engineering the suspension in dampers and such will certainly cost many millions.

      • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 4th July 2014, 22:56

        @beejis60
        Agreed, I just find it ironic to hear the talk about how important cost cutting is while also discussing new possible regulations will add more more costs. The FIA merely pays lip service to cost cutting measures.

        This isn’t inherently a bad idea, but it is more than likely going to increase costs. I’m for the notion of incorporating good innovations into F1. I’m rather ambivalent about the increased wheel/tire size.

        The hybrid V6 turbo move has been a good and timely idea in my opinion. F1 is expensive. Teams should be prepared. At the same time, massive spending does not always mean massive results.

  11. ASN (@ninefiveasn) said on 4th July 2014, 18:41

    Me and my dad went to the Raceweek london event and whilst we were (refreshingly) up close to the 2012 Lotus he pointed out how comparatively small the wheels were to the tyre sidewalls. I think after all the ugly noses and narrow rear wings it’s good to see that there might be an aesthetically pleasing rule change.

  12. Steven (@steevkay) said on 4th July 2014, 18:59

    Hah! My car runs on 14-inch wheels. I like the fact that I can replace a whole set of tyres on my car for the cost some people pay to replace one 19-inch tyre.

    In any case, tyre size has never been a gripe of mine, it’s the compounds that they need to get right. Make them easier to heat up, since most drivers seem to be having issues, and more durable. There are many more changes I would prefer to see.

    • anon said on 4th July 2014, 19:42

      And that is the one fact that seems to be driving the decision – it is not so much technical feasibility but aesthetic considerations. Hembery himself has made that clear in a related interview:
      “We thought let’s have a look at it to see what it looks like, because essentially it is about aesthetics to see if it looks more relevant to a road car and is that a direction the sport would like to take.”
      http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/motorsport/story/165455.html

      Added to that, as you rightly note the profit margin for the tyre manufacturers on a large diameter low profile tyre is substantially higher, whilst the performance benefits are not always quite so clear – in fact, Hembery has hinted that large low profile 18 inch tyres could actually be something of a detriment to ride quality due to the reduced compliance of the tyre sidewall.

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 4th July 2014, 19:55

      @steevkay Yes, you’re right… but a race tire vs. street tires are vastly different. FWIW, I have 17″ and 18″ wheels on my race car and the 18″ tires run about $410 each whereas the 17″ tires $175 each.

      • Steven (@steevkay) said on 4th July 2014, 20:47

        @beejis60 I know, you can’t compare race tyres to road tyres. Oddly enough, I have a set of Pirellis on my car, too, but if you tried to put these on an F1 car, I’m sure the failures would be even more spectacular that what we saw in Silverstone last year (if the tyres didn’t just fail while trying to get up to any sort of speed). Works great on my ~110hp daily driver, not so much on a 700+hp downforce machine.

        In any case, 18-inch or 13-inch rims, there are many other issues I feel strongly about. This is one decision that I don’t feel strongly about, one way or the other.

        P.S. It’s crazy that the 1-inch extra in diameter drives up the cost by such a margin. It must add up quickly if you’re a track enthusiast!

  13. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 4th July 2014, 19:13

    Don’t think it is such a necesity but if Pirelli insist on it I see few reasons to not go ahead with it.

  14. PeterG said on 4th July 2014, 19:17

    Its also important to point out that if F1 moves to 18″ rims it will mean Pirelli could share the tyre moldings between the categories which run 18″ slicks.

    Thats also a part of why Michelin were pushing for tyres that size when they were pushing to enter F1. I also think Bridgestone were after 15″ tyres when they were in F1 so that the y would be in line with the tyres there Firestone brand were supplying to Indycar.

  15. Giggsy11 (@giggsy11) said on 4th July 2014, 19:41

    Aesthetically in my opinion I would much rather they change the rim size to something similar to Indy car and have 15/16 inch rims, that would look the best. However, the change would make an improvement on the tiny rims we have now. People will probably talk (and moan – as is seemingly the new thing to do for every rule change) about them at first but will soon get used to them.

    Also the Formula E cars look to have these larger rims and look beautiful so I’m all for it.

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