Inside the technical challenge of 18-inch F1 tires

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Lotus technical director Nick Chester has shed some light on the challenge that the engineers and designers in Formula 1 could face if Pirelli’s prototype 18-inch rimmed tires are adopted in the years to come.

Pirelli piloted the concept tires at Silverstone earlier this week, with Lotus test driver Charles Pic completing 14 laps using them. The Frenchman said that it would be a big challenge for the sport if they were used, and Chester echoed his words.

“The 18-inch Pirelli tires are obviously very different to the tires used in F1 now, so we viewed it as a shakedown run – simply a case of ‘let’s see’ for Pirelli, rather than a performance run,” he explained.

“The bigger size meant we had to trim the floor and change the ride height to adapt to the different loaded radius of the tires. Some of the suspension set up also had to be modified, such as the cambers. These were very basic revisions to enable Pirelli to evaluate the concept for the future and see what the bigger wheels look like on the car.”

If the tires are to be adopted in F1, all eleven of the teams would have to be in favor, and they would not be introduced until 2016 at the absolute earliest. Chester inferred that such a big lead-up would be required thanks to the challenge posed by the tires.

“Having 18-inch tires would have a big impact on design,” he said. “We would want to be testing in the wind tunnel for at least a year ahead of their introduction.

“The ride height and suspension packages would have to be changed and the tire profile itself would be very different. It would be an interesting challenge.”

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”