Pirelli has confirmed that it will test a larger F1 wheel size at Silverstone next week in an attempt to make the sport more relevant to road cars.
The tire supplier will fit the Lotus E22 car with 18-inch tires on Wednesday, marking an increase from the current 13-inch tires that are used in Formula 1.
“Pirelli is introducing a new 18-inch tire design concept to showcase the way that Formula 1 could look in the near future,” a statement from the Italian company read.
“But rather than an abstract design, this is a fully functional tire, capable of completing demonstration runs around Silverstone during the forthcoming in-season test from next Tuesday to next Wednesday.
“The 18-inch tire is an idea that Pirelli has promoted ever since the company was first announced as Formula 1 official tire supplier back in 2010. Larger wheel and tire sizes reflect modern market trends; with the adoption of a larger size invariably leading to even greater technology transfer between Formula 1 tires and road car tires.”
In recent years, the sport has looked to become more road-relevant with the introduction of more efficient power units and energy recovery system. However, Pirelli reinforced the fact that it would have to be widely accepted by those in the sport to be implemented into future regulations, and the press release did concede that the subsequent reduction in advertising space could be a sticking point.
Nevertheless, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery is excited about the test and feels that it will hark back to the 1970s when larger tires were used.
“The 13-inch tire is no longer relevant to the everyday road user, because even an 18-inch tire is used by standard vehicles these days,” he explained. “While 18-inch tires would be a big step for Formula 1, there are many other motorsport series that already use this size.” The newly-launched Formula E series is using 18-inch tires as standard.
“So there’s scope to go even bigger than that in Formula 1 in years to come,” he added. “In order to underline F1’s role as a test bed for future mobility solutions, we believe that it benefits everybody to have as close a link between road car tires and competition tires as possible: a belief we have held ever since we introduced the low profile tire from competition to road use back in the 1970s.”