Charles Pic, Lotus, Silverstone test, 2014

Doubts raised over plan for 18-inch and larger wheels

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Charles Pic, Lotus, Silverstone test, 2014Formula One should be clear on its reasons for introducing larger wheel sizes if it decided to do so, according to the teams’ technical chiefs.

Pirelli tested wider 18-inch wheels at Silverstone earlier this year and has expressed an interest in increasing wheel sizes even further from the current 13-inch format. However some car designers raised concerns over making a change solely for stylistic or commercial reasons.

“Maybe I’m ignorant in this sense or ignorant of what’s been going on but as far as I understand the only reason for proposing this is to suit, to make it look more like the road tyres that particular tyre manufacturer makes,” said Red Bull’s chief technical director Adrian Newey during today’s press conference at Spa-Francorchamps.

“So it’s not being done for technical reasons, it’s not being done for performance reasons, it’s being done purely for styling and commercial reasons. That to me does not seem the right reason to make a technical change.”

Williams’ head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley endorsed Newey’s view: “We have to really question the reasons for doing that and what does it actually bring to the sport.”

“As an engineering exercise then all the teams are big enough just to get on with it, to be fairly honest. It’s not a great engineering challenge – it is an engineering challenge, as most things in Formula One are – the question that Formula One has to ask itself is what are the reasons we’re doing it for, are they the right reasons, does it actually bring anything to the sport?”

However teams expect they will be able to cope with the change which, if it does happen, is not expected to be implemented for at least three years.

“We’re halfway through 2014, we’re talking about something to be introduced in 2017, so there’s certainly adequate time,” said Ferrari’s James Allison.

“And it’s the tender process for deciding on the new tyre supply is something which the FIA looks after and they’ve been taking the trouble to consult amongst the teams for what type of consideration should be built into the timing of that so we can manage the engineering of it.

“So I think there is enough time and as long as the various inputs from the teams are heeded it will all be fine. And it will be exciting, and fun for us to have a change in the geometry.”

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Image © Lotus/LAT