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.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”