Pirelli reveal 18-inch tyre design ahead of test

2014 F1 season


Pirelli have revealed how the 18-inch wheel and tyre they intend to test at Silverstone tomorrow will look.

Formula One cars currently run on 13-inch tyres, but Pirelli believe a switch to lower-profile rubber will make F1 tyre technology more relevant to road cars.

“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 Pirelli 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.”

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134 comments on Pirelli reveal 18-inch tyre design ahead of test

  1. Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 8th July 2014, 12:41

    Does anyone know how these would affect tyre performance? My thoughts would be:

    1) Lower profile means less deflection – so lower contact patch area and less grip?
    2) Lower deflection would give drivers better feel, more predictable tyre performance?
    3) Lower internal volume so faster warmup times
    4) Heavier wheels have higher inertia, so require more energy to accelerate or deccelerate – slower in a straight line and less fuel efficient. Also marginally slower in corners due to higher weight.
    5) Less tyre travel over bumps so suspension would need to be softer to compensate.
    6) Possible to have larger brake discs but don’t think this is a limiting factor currently.

    Overall, it looks like this might be a marginal decrease in performance by my reasoning. Maybe these factors can be compensated in the tyre design, but Pirelli will still need to meet their targets for degredation. Would be interested to know what others think/know from other series.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 8th July 2014, 12:54

      Heavier wheels have higher inertia, so require more energy to accelerate or deccelerate – slower in a straight line and less fuel efficient. Also marginally slower in corners due to higher weight.

      Would they actually be heavier? And more important for rotational inertia would be where the concentration of the weight is.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 8th July 2014, 12:58

        I don’t think they would be heavier. I’m pretty sure the rubber of the tyre is heavier than the metal alloy of the wheel.

        • Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 8th July 2014, 13:00

          maybe you’re right, i was hoping someone would know for sure ;)

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th July 2014, 13:16

          I also think the wheels would be about the same weight, maybe a tad lighter.

          The surface/contact patch might be wider because of greater stability (with smaller side walls) much like Pirelly tried to give the teams with the steel belt carcass last year.

          As for Brake discs, it might be that they get larger but thinner which would actually help with aerodynamics (because its easier to cool them like that meaning less need for big air ducts).

      • Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 8th July 2014, 12:59

        I think so, because the wheel itself (made of metal or similar materials) will be larger while previously that space was taken up by the tyre, which is just rubber with air (or whatever fancy gas mixture they might use) in the middle.

    • mateuss (@mateuss) said on 8th July 2014, 13:19

      Lower profile certainly means larger contact patch and more constant one.

      Also there would be less unwanted movement in the sidewall, that should increase the positive effects of good suspension systems.
      This is often mentioned on the commentary, how most of the suspension effectively is in the tyre sidewall, because we have such high sidewalls now, but it isn’t actually good for performance. What it basically means is that the tyres bounce uncontrollably. Modern multi-element suspension systems are soooo much better at maintaining a constant contact with the surface than a plain, non adjustable, peace of rubber.

      By my understating all the changes point to increased performance, of course depending on the effectiveness of the design.

      Maybe except for the larger wheel rim. I don’t know how the mass distribution comperes, and if it has larger rotational inertia it would affect the acceleration slightly, but not the grip, or cornering. But this would again depend on the design of the rim and there has not yet been an 18” hardcore F1 performance wheel rim.

      They should probably allow carbon fiber wheels if they go ahead with this.

      • Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 9th July 2014, 8:29

        @mateuss Interesting points regarding suspension and contact patch, i hadn’t thought of it that way. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether the larger rims will increase or decrease unsprung weight, or whether the overall performance will be better or worse. The teams or Pirelli will hopefully give a definitive answer soon (unless the difference is extremely marginal).

    • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 8th July 2014, 14:27

      I understand reducing unsprung mass is the most compelling reason for this change.

      The rubber of existing tyres is as light weight as it can be. They tried reducing weight last year and this was a big fail, as we well know.

      So the only option available is to reduce the amount of rubber without compromising integrity. An 18″ wheel with suitable rubber is the answer (or rather, the best compromise).

  2. Wessel (@wessel-v1) said on 8th July 2014, 12:47

    Not only look these tires good on that car, the car looks good as well. Let’s hope that’s what the new rules of 2015 lead to, because this really looks promising.

  3. marc512 (@) said on 8th July 2014, 13:19


    look at the size of them! They are huge!

  4. Casanova (@casanova) said on 8th July 2014, 13:25

    I personally don’t like the look of big wheels, on road cars or on racing cars. For me, small wheels and fat high-profile slicks are one of the fundamental defining characteristics of an F1 car.

    • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 8th July 2014, 14:57

      Yes, this whole forward motion in evolving how the cars look and behave is nonsense! Look at all this aerodynamics film flammery. Cigar shaped tubes are the fundamental defining characteristic of an F1 car. We shouldn’t allow change for the sake of progress.

      • anon said on 8th July 2014, 18:37

        Pirelli themselves have stated that the decision to move to larger rims is really driven by the marketing potential than the technological transfer potential though – it would be like reintroducing the ‘shark fin’ engine covers on the cars solely for the purpose of increasing the advertising space…

  5. Michael Brown (@) said on 8th July 2014, 13:56

    I’m looking forward to how these wheels work in the test tomorrow. One question though: Which part of the wheel is heavier, the metal or the rubber?

  6. Joaquin (@fat-tyre) said on 8th July 2014, 13:57

    Don’t like them at all. Prefer fatter ones.

  7. Valhyre (@ausuma) said on 8th July 2014, 13:58

    They look awful like seriously ugly.

  8. Fixy (@fixy) said on 8th July 2014, 13:59

    I seem to be in reverse trend, but I’m not excited about this prospect – the wheels and tyres don’t look so great to me… I’m still fascinated by these tyres!

  9. greg-c (@greg-c) said on 8th July 2014, 14:15

    There will be challenges to make them accelerate like the 13’s
    the 13’s run at very low pressures, lots of give in the tyres,
    this helps traction,

    remember silverstone last year, teams asked by Pirelli to raise PSI by 2.
    this reduces grip, there will be the (1 of many) challenges ,

    Im guessing the low profiles will need to run higher pressures, (just a guess)

    think of drag racing tyres, big walls, low pressures, the flex gives part of the overall grip,

    I have some friends who drag race their street cars,
    they always remove the low profile street tyres for the strip as they offer far less traction than the higher profile tyres ,

  10. Mr win or lose said on 8th July 2014, 14:17

    These wheels are really awful.

  11. American F1 said on 8th July 2014, 14:17

    Another reason for the push to 18″ tires, the low profile tires do not require the tire warmers like the 13″ as the sidewalls heat much faster than the wider walls of the 13″ tires. Virtually every other series out there uses them, it makes no sense for the “pinnacle of motor racing” to be on antiquated tires…or “tyres” for all my British friends.

  12. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 8th July 2014, 14:41


    They don’t look bad at all, but I prefer the current wheels. I think 18” is too much. I know it’s not (enough) relevant for Pirelli, but if they wanted to get closer to the street cars size, why not a 15” or 16” rim ?? Would have been better for sure. We have Formula E for this kind of wheels… and I don’t like IT (IT = Formula E) at all.

  13. ^Mo^ said on 8th July 2014, 14:41

    Pretty cool they added skid blocks to the car, makes it look much more exciting! ;)

  14. BlueChris (@bluechris) said on 8th July 2014, 14:47

    I like the look of them but i dont want them and i explain my negative points..

    F1 runs with 13″ inches for how long? its in all teams DNA how a car must behave with the current tyres and what the suspension needs to make the car sit in the tarmac. If this changed then we will see in the year that will introduced what is huppening this year with Merc engine but bigger. The problem stands in how the 13″ wheel work in comparison the 18″ wheel.
    The 13″ inch does at least the 1/3 of the suspension travel and if this changed then the analogy of the suspension travel will go almost fully on suspension so we will need new designs in suspensions etc.
    A car with a 18″ wheel can sit lower in the ground with stiffer suspension settings. This will be better in grip but worser for the curbs. A f1 car with this tyres will not be able to go now ON the curves as it goes now.
    A car with a 13″ absorbs hard impacts with the wheels.. we all have seen situations where a driver losing his brake point and goes all over the curb… what a 18″ wheel car will do in this situation? in my mind it will fly high more easily but also in landing it will be destroyed much faster (i speak for suspension and rims)
    F1 is not BTCC… not anything road car relevant… camber settings with 13″ wheels are less strict meaning that camber is changing according the tyre shifting in vertical axle when huge grip exists and the car behavior when loosing grip is a bit smoother even in our eyes seems hard. With 18″ the tyre will not be able to transform so we will have a situation in a corner where a car is in great grip but suddenly loosing traction damn faster than a 13″ even if the grip will be a bit better.
    Also i see another camber problem.. the 18″ will affect all the setups and the teams will need too much practise to fully understand and utilise setups…we will have cars that destroy the inner part of the tyre damn fast because of camber settings.

    I dont know guys… i dont know what they smoke in F1 Management but this is wrong.. totally wrong and changes the looks of F1 cars totally and makes them road cars which is unucceptable imo.

    Please Leave F1 as it is now at least.

  15. Oli (@dh1996) said on 8th July 2014, 14:50

    I love change in F1 and I’m surely not one of those “everything should stay as it was!” kinda guys but that looks horrible.

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