Feedback for Pirelli 18-inch tires largely positive

2 Comments

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.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.