Lotus E22, Silverstone, 2014

First pictures: Pirelli & Lotus begin 18-inch wheel test

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lotus E22, Silverstone, 2014

Pirelli and Lotus have begun their test of 18-inch wheels and tyres at Silverstone.

The team’s E22 chassis is running on the prototype rubber for the second day of testing today. It will be driven by Charles Pic.

Formula One rules currently stipulate the use of 13-inch wheels. Pirelli have said they only intend to pursue the idea providing there is agreement from “the teams, promoter and other stakeholders” to do so.

Although the new rubber has the same width as the 13-inch tyres, its diameter is 30mm larger. The total weight of the tyre plus wheel is 4kg heavier.

The main advantage of the lower profile rubber, according to Pirelli, is that as it contains less air the pressure within it remains more consistent.

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Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says he was pleased with the test and response to it. “In our view, the new tyres looked stunning fitted to the Lotus, and the reaction has already been felt all over the world,” he said.

“These are just a prototype concept, but if the teams decided that they wanted us to proceed in this direction, we have the capability to carry on development in this area and come up with a production-ready version in a comparatively short space of time. We’ve heard a lot of opinions already and we look forward to canvassing other opinions in the coming weeks and months.

“Even though performance wasn’t by any means priority here, the new tyres still behaved exactly in line with our expectations, so we’re clearly potentially at the beginning of a huge development curve, with the wheel and tyre size rules having remained unaltered for many years.”

Pic gave his impression of driving on the new wheels: “It was a very early evaluation test and the different tyres and wheels affect the aerodynamics of the car quite a lot,” he said, “but you could certainly feel that the tyres felt different to those we’re used to on an F1 car”.

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Image via Lotus on Twitter

145 comments on “First pictures: Pirelli & Lotus begin 18-inch wheel test”

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  1. Nice! Really looking good. However with tyre degradation, They’ll look like trains after 5 laps! :)

    1. @spoutnik

      Well, they always said the cars run on rails XD

    2. I SERIOUSLY don’t like it…

      1. Just wait till they add the spinning rims to improve “the show” next year! LMAO!!!!

        1. exactly!! also put chrome, hidraulic suspension and some hip hop during race, jeesh, the f1 sucks and gonna sucks more

        2. @daved it looks like a train… 18 inches is way too much… there’s so much empty space in the middle of the rim, the discs look tiny.

          I don’t see this as a needed change…

          1. Yeah, I thought I’d like it, but I’m not sure now that I’ve seen it. I’d get used to it, but it looks just “strange”.

            I wonder what it does to the overall weight of the wheels? Less rubber, but longer spokes on the magnesium allow wheels….would it balance out or be slightly lighter/heavier???

            Would the contact patch be more consistent with less tyre deformation? Does anyone have technical details about how this would affect performance?

          2. Remember the current brakes are designed to fit in 13″ rims

          3. @raceprouk I seriously down FIA wants braking distance to be shorter…

            @daved I bet they are heavier. It also needs more torque to rotate, there’s more mass, more unsprung weight…

            Again, I don’t see this as a necessary change…

          4. @fer-no65 – They won’t be; the tyres can only handle so much :P
            Bigger brakes will be easier to cool though

        3. they’ll ban it because it’s an “movable aerodynamic device” :D

      2. Yes, maybe they could be an inch or two smaller, yes, they look a bit strange, but generally I like it.
        Remember new noses, new engines and new sound? Almost everyone were shouting it’s ugly, too “eco”, too quiet, it’s not F1 etc. Now – silence. People got over it and enjoy racing, I bet we’ll have the same story with big rims.

        Also I don’t know what problem some people have with relevance to road cars.

    3. I’ve seen many negative opinions. It feels weird to go against the stream, but I really like the looks of these. I am, however, quite worried about the costs that its introduction would have. Having to redesign the suspensions, brakes, car geometry in general, must be a pain in the arse for the engineers and another contradiction in F1’s already bad “cost-cutting policy”. As awesome they might look, I don’t know if it’d be convenient to make them mandatory.

      1. Yeah, I’m really surprised by those many negative opinions aswell. It looks perfect to my eyes. Feels weird to be in favor of something new about F1 these days, but really liked it this time…

        1. A fair number of negative comments are about how the brakes don’t fill behind the wheels. Seems they expected Lotus to waste money making new brakes just for a feasibility test.

      2. I don’t think they look bad and as F1 always talks about being relevant to road cars, I think this is a logical step to make. Hopefully it can help to entice more manufacturers too.

  2. That looks really good. I wonder how the cars will perform with them on though, they would need a fundamental rethink of the suspension set up to get the most out of them.

    1. i imagine it will be a pretty hard ride now, as its missing about a 3rd of suspension (which is currently done by the tyre sidewalls!)

      1. I wonder how much of a knock-on effect this will have on performance/set-up…

        With less sidewall and less travel in the tyres, it changes what was almost a constant between all teams (tyre pressures could be adjusted) into something that is in the teams control, allowing more variance across the grid.

        The other thing that I think will have a bigger impact is, bigger wheels could mean bigger breaks, making managing and cooling the breaks nearly a non-issue. That is one element of this years F1 I have really enjoyed, when teams are lifting and coasting to manage break temperatures meaning the cars behind can attack into corners.

        Does anyone know if there is an explicit rule governing the size of breaks, or is it simple a case of what fits into the wheels.

        1. @alanore the maximum thickness and diameter is in the regulations.

    2. @geemac it’s not just the suspension also aerodynamics needs a complete rethinking. The costs would be enormous, considering you have to start from scratch with your car. imo, introducing these tyres would defeat the purpose of all cost saving initiatives.

      1. You do know all the teams develop the aero constantly, irrespective of changes to tyres and wheels?

  3. MG421982 (@corrado-dub)
    9th July 2014, 9:38

    Nope, not for me. Try 15” (or 16” max) !

    1. Not for me either.

  4. Like a real tuner with tiny stock brakedisks. Don’t really like it.

  5. Milky White
    9th July 2014, 9:42

    I say use these but let the discs grow to fill the rim and stipulate that the disc must be visible from the outside so you can see them glow red in the corners.

    1. I agree, i think this will happen anyway, as it will make sense for the teams to make the discs bigger as it will bring the discs closer to the wheel and aid tyres getting temperature into tyres

      1. i disagree on the basis that it would make the brakes too powerful (bigger disc equals more stopping power) and therefore braking zones would be too short, hampering overtaking. i realise most overtaking is now done in DRS zones, but that sucks! outbraking manoeuvres are the best.

        1. Bigger brakes DO NOT mean shorter stopping distances. The limiting factor on braking distance is tire grip.

          1. To add to this the only true advantage to larger brakes is to aid in cooling.

            If you can still lock your wheels up your not being limited by anything but the tire compound.

  6. It totally reminds me of a V8 Ariel Atom. Probably it’s the paint scheme as well. I like it.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      9th July 2014, 9:48

      I’m not a big fan of the bigger wheel rims, but I totally agree that it looks like the Ariel Atom. My first thought when I saw it haha

  7. I like it! :)

  8. I kind of like it but I think 15´s would be more than enough.

  9. Nice! I don’t think they look as good here as they could with another car… them big gold wheels of the Lotus are a bit ugly to me!

  10. Rear one I could survive, but the front one looks like some crappy cart wheel. And I don’t mean racing carts, I mean horse-pulled cart.

    1. Alex McFarlane
      9th July 2014, 22:00

      Maybe 18-inch rears and 15-inch fronts would look better, would give it a bit more of a retro look

      1. as long as they keep the low profile, if not, they will look plain ridiculous…

      2. @Alex McFarlane – I would love that. will make the cars look like the old days…

  11. First impression of that is that it looks ridiculous. From the renders it looked like it’ll be good and it may just be the angle this picture is taken at, but it looks like someone has gone out and bought the biggest wheels they could find to put on their car to look cool and its had the complete opposite effect.

    1. I dont think it helps the imagination when you see these enormous wheels, and then the word ‘saxo’ written on the sidepod, instantly takes the mind to max power magazine.

      Personally though, I like the larger wheels, I think a better rim design would make a huge difference. 18 inches of difference.

  12. Can we keep the small ones at the front, please…?

    1. A difference between front and rear would be much appreciated, yes. However, the current 13-inch rims with the current tyres seem as big as the new 18-inch-rims with those proposed new tyres, whereas what I would wish for is rather the front/rear-ratio of the late 70s.

      1. Exactly! I want the tyres to be fatter too, the rear ones…

      2. I LOVE IT! But I want fatter tyres as well in the

  13. Looks like chariot wheels, don’t like it one bit.

    1. My thought exactly. This is a big no no for me…

  14. I like the 13″
    The 15 ones make me think about ‘regular’ racing cars, wich F1 are not.

  15. That looks like someone built an F1 model in their shed. Horrible, just horrible.

    1. Yes- now we’re talking !!!

    2. Oh, yes…PLEASE bring those wheels back!!!! We could have real racing again!

  16. I think its a bit much. I’d like to hear about how they drive though. I’d expect that they’re very sensitive, and can get away quite quickly with little chance of saving it. Would be sad to lose the big drifts we’ve had this year, but more punishment for over-driving would be welcome.

    1. Increase in braking capacity is going to shorten braking distances too, making out-braking someone more marginal. This is what’s given rise to the Tilke long-straights-into-hairpins methodology.

      1. The current brakes can already provide more stopping power than the tyres can handle, so bigger brakes won’t decrease braking distances appreciably. What they’ll make much easier is brake cooling, which should actually improve reliability overall.

  17. Matt (@hamiltonfan1705)
    9th July 2014, 10:43

    Do notice a difference but I can tell when they are introduced for real by the first race with them we will have completely forgotten about them

  18. Becken Lima
    9th July 2014, 10:53

    In terms of aesthetics, this is hideous, ugly as hell!! how someone could think this looks good is beyond me.

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