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

2014 F1 season

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

  1. Matty No 2 (@mattynotwo) said on 9th July 2014, 10:56

    I think it looks great

  2. Oana Cambrea (@cutteroz) said on 9th July 2014, 11:20

    I agree with @electrolite, it looks like an unhappy choice of colour: http://oi61.tinypic.com/2yufzm8.jpg

    They don’t look so bad, though.

  3. Spud (@the-spuditron) said on 9th July 2014, 11:20

    Absolutely gorgeous! Lets be having some of these please!

  4. David Not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 9th July 2014, 11:24

    The rim isn’t deep enough. It looks deeper and thus better in the preview picture Pirelli gave.

    But hey, it’s more up-to-date and not gimmicky, refreshing on the back of the introduction of the Super bonus Double Points Season Finale Bonanza.

  5. David Not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 9th July 2014, 11:26

    Oh, and there’s Saxo Bank instead of EMC^2 (based on E=MC^2 they might as well have written E^2 since E^2=EMC^2).

    Congrats on that, Team Enstone!

  6. Velocityboy (@velocityboy) said on 9th July 2014, 11:32

    The US broadcasters often point out how the sidewall of the tire acts as a part of the suspension when it flexes and I’m sure that is taken into consideration when the cars are designed. So I don’t think changing to the larger wheel and low profile tire is as simple as bolting them on, as it will probably require major suspension changes. So how does this fit into the cost cutting measures?

    • Michael Brown (@) said on 9th July 2014, 13:31

      The biggest benefactor will be Pirelli, as 18″ wheels are very similar to what they provide in most other racing series. This saves them a lot of money as current F1 tires are much different and expensive.

      I believe Pirelli, Michelin, and Bridgestone were pushing for lower profile tires for the past few years, primarily for the reason above.

      As for the suspension, it needs to be softer because it will be doing more movement than with current wheels. It would have to be redesigned similar to a road car to get the most benefit from these new wheels.

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 9th July 2014, 15:07

      @velocityboy I read years ago that the sidewall is about 50% of the suspension travel. So even if it’s only 10% of the suspension travel, all teams will spend millions in suspension R&D to optimize everything. And to think the teams and FIA “want to save money”

    • mateuss (@mateuss) said on 9th July 2014, 18:50

      @velocitybo As evidenced by this test, they can just bolt on the wheels and it works. No redesign required.

      But of course they will optimize the suspension, because it will give them large performance improvement that’s guaranteed, instead of spending tens or hundreds of millions on aero finding tenths or not finding them in many cases.

      They redesign the suspension each year anyway to find small aerodynamic benefits (like pull rods, or McLaren mushrooms etc.) or to suit the new chassis requirements and tyre changes, or to simply optimize the system.

      All that would change for next year is that the requirements and geometric options would be slightly different as they start the new design.

      And the teams don’t have to make any major changes anyway, as seen here. But they would be silly not to do so, because everybody will, because it will be a cheap performance boost.

      FIA have just given the teams a much bigger headache and technical problem to be solved by (potentially) banning FRIC suspension mid-season.

  7. skipgamer (@skipgamer) said on 9th July 2014, 11:50

    Surprised by the negativity from some. Looks amazing to me, much more modern. Two thumbs up!
    Would love to see a poll on them.

  8. Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th July 2014, 12:20

    I say bring them on. I like them.

  9. AmbroseRPM (@ambroserpm) said on 9th July 2014, 12:47

    I think they are a tad big. 15-16,s would look miles better.

  10. totocaster (@totocaster) said on 9th July 2014, 13:16

    What is the ultimate purpose for the switch? Looks or road tyre advancement? I do like current fluffy donuts, but if 18 inch ones will drastically improve road and sport-street tyres, so let it be.

    • kpcart said on 9th July 2014, 14:06

      it is nonsense to think an 18 inch tyre on a 600kg 750hp single seater pitting 2-3 times a race will improve road tyre technology. there are so many other racing series with cars closer to road cars to develop technology to filter to road cars – but road cars drive at such slower speeds than any racing series and don’t need extreme turning and braking, so I don’t see how any racing series will help make better road tyres, the road tyres we have are already excellent in the past 20 years, even chinese made ones. in the past 20 years I have noticed lower profile tyres just make for a stiffer ride, it seems to only be fashion that we have bigger wheels. low profile tyres often have less rubber on them and cost more too…

      • totocaster (@totocaster) said on 9th July 2014, 14:35

        Generally, I’m on the same page. I’m not confident to know much about tyre technology. In case you are right, only thing I can think of is another disruption for teams. I’m pretty sure it will have huge impact on thermal management of tyres, break technology and maybe even suspension architecture and aerodynamics.

      • matiascasali (@matiascasali) said on 9th July 2014, 17:26

        when michelin introduced the radial tyres in the 70¿s they still were open wheelers going faster than any other road car, and now pretty much any road car uses the radial… why wouldn’t it work?

      • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 9th July 2014, 18:13

        You never know what tech they can take from race tyres to road tyres.

  11. Michael Brown (@) said on 9th July 2014, 13:26

    I’m looking forward to how these wheels will perform, but the colour and rim design just doesn’t work for me. They look better in black or grey.

  12. Tiago Sá said on 9th July 2014, 13:28

    Looks hideous, if I’m honest.

  13. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 9th July 2014, 13:45

    Can anybody, skilled enough, to resize the tyre and the rim to 15”-16” ?!? I’m really curious how a wheel like that wheel.

  14. Valhyre (@ausuma) said on 9th July 2014, 13:53

    oh god it’s like a rapper’s car with the bling bling yo! going on with the flow!
    please keep the 13′ inch wheels

  15. kpcart said on 9th July 2014, 13:58

    I never liked it when road cars went to bigger wheels, I don’t see the point, seems to make cars more stiff on the road. I also hate on road cars when people put bigger wheels on their cars, “pimping” them, and making them look like prams. I don’t want to see f1 cars have pram wheels. f1 cars are so small…. why put these pram wheels on? it makes sense maybe on a large 4wd, but a 600kg open wheeler? and Pirelli are talking even bigger – 20 inch. I guess that will suit Hamilton’s hip hop image, maybe they can attach a subwoofer to the back of the cars to (to amplify the exhaust).

  16. Joshj81 said on 9th July 2014, 13:58

    With the bigger wheels, are they going to allow for bigger brakes as well? There seems to be a lot of space available now.

  17. Boomerang said on 9th July 2014, 14:23

    My opinion is: 13-inch is to small 18 to big! Diameter of new wheel rim is almost the same as the complete 13-inch tire. The irony is that new concept tires are tested by the team that doesn’t know how to use 13-inch rubber properly, not to mention 18…

    • kpcart said on 9th July 2014, 14:25

      don’t be silly, it doesn’t matter if they use them better or worse then other teams, so much info can be gained by whatever team testing them – at least they are testing them on an f1 car, instead of say a gp2 car. it is a first run anyway – just for general data, it is not like they are race ready tyres.

      • Boomerang said on 9th July 2014, 23:23

        I agree with you regarding the new tires. However, the situation they’re having at the moment as a team requires 110% effort dedicated to solve contemporary issues. The show should be the last thing on their mind. The season started off on the wrong foot for Lotus F1 team, it might end up in the same manner.

  18. kpcart said on 9th July 2014, 14:28

    I hope Charles Pic gives an insight into the tyres, and doesn’t do PR speak. he was 9 seconds off the pace with the 18 inches :P

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th July 2014, 14:38

      Makes sense since the car would not have in it the right suspension to deal with these new rims/tires. Made me wonder the value of testing these tires but perhaps Pirelli has gleaned at least some info for themselves while at the same time F1 getting a feel, in a trial balloon sort of way, for viewers reaction.

  19. BlueChris (@bluechris) said on 9th July 2014, 14:38

    Someone asked for image how the tyre & rim will be is it was 15″ but i cannot find the question to reply there so here is a fast examble that i did in photoshop…. not my best work but you get the idea.

    http://i61.tinypic.com/25tz12q.jpg

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 9th July 2014, 15:11

      @lite992 18’s look way better in motion, especially that first picture. I’m curious if someone could photoshop 15″ wheels/tires from perhaps indycar or rough estimate from F1 cars into a side by side by side comparison.

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