Feedback for Pirelli 18-inch tires largely positive

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Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has said that the response to the firm’s test of 18-inch rim F1 tires has been largely positive, and the concept could grace the sport in three years’ time.

Last week at Silverstone, Lotus completed 15 laps using the 18-inch tires fitted to Charles Pic’s E22 car. Although the Frenchman said that they were a challenge to work with, Hembery confirmed that the feedback Pirelli had received was largely positive.

“We felt rather than discuss it, we ought to put some on a current car and people can actually decide and the F1 commission can see real images of the car with that sort of tire on them,” he explained. “These are 18 [inches], maybe 19 is probably more interesting going forward.

“Have to say that the feedback we’ve had generally has been very good. People have been forwarding us all sorts of surveys and fan surveys that they’ve had on their individual websites. Between 70 and 80%, depending on the survey, have been very favorable.”

It is thought that the move to more road relevant tires could attract other suppliers such as Michelin to F1, potentially creating a tire war, last seen in 2006. Hembery did not feel that the sport was going down that route, though.

“Ultimately the sport should primarily be about drivers and then you have engines,” he said. “If you throw in tires as well, you can tend to lose your way.

“We’d be interested if the rules were in the right direction but there hasn’t seemed to be much of an appetite for doing that. It’s another element that’s out of the control of the teams.

“We have enough controversy even when we’re the sole supplier,” he added, reflecting on last year’s tire safety debacle. “So if you add in another supplier you could have another question mark.”

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado spoke to the media on Thursday about the tires, and gave them his approval.

“Yeah, good look, good look,” he said. “But for sure, talking to Pic, it’s not the best to drive, but even the car has not been designed for this kind of tire. It’s difficult to say, but for sure the look of the car is much better, more aggressive.”

Kanaan, Dixon to rejoin Chip Ganassi Le Mans effort

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Both Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan will be rejoining Ford Chip Ganassi Racing as part of their four-car armada at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team revealed late last week. Both drivers contested the event last year, with Dixon in the No. 69 entry – finishing seventh in the GTE Pro class – while Kanaan replaced an injured Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 68 – finishing sixth in GTE Pro.

For Kanaan, this also represents a return to the Chip Ganassi organization, with which he contested the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2014 to 2017 before departing for A.J. Foyt Racing in 2018.

Kanaan will join Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the No. 67, while Dixon will reunite with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, the three drivers having won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, in the No. 69.

Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla, and Billy Johnson will share the No. 66 entry, with Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, and Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 68.

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