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Pirelli to test 18-inch F1 wheels next week

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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.”

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.