Despite Formula One being the pinnacle of automotive technology, the cars have been running on the small 13-inch wheels for many years. However, that is possibly set to change as tyre supplier, Pirelli, is looking into introducing 18-inch tyres to F1 cars. These wheels are in-line with the modern cars we have today and could possibility make an appearance by 2016.
The Lotus F1 team became the first team to test with these 18-inch tyres and rims during the in-season test in Silverstone, UK. The team’s test driver, Charles Pic, made a few short stints in the E22 fitted with 18-inch Pirellis and found there are huge differences compared to the standard 13-inch tyres.
While admittedly, 18-inch wheels do look good on an F1 car, larger tyres will make a huge impact in the way the car works aerodynamically; notably a race can be won or lost due to the car’s aerodynamics. However, grip from these prototype tyres was low, which translated to the car running 5-6 seconds off the pace compared to the normal F1 car with 13-inch wheels. However, this test will provide useful data to Pirelli, and there’s hope the Italian tyre makers will make improvements on this concept, provided there’s support from other F1 teams as well.
[Image Source: Lotus F1 Team]