F1 technical bosses uneasy about change in tire rim size

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Technical chiefs from three of the leading Formula 1 teams have expressed their desire to retain the current rim size for tires in the sport in spite of a recent push to make changes in the future.

In a bid to make F1 more road-relevant, it was thought that the change would be made in 2017 upon the next overhaul of the technical regulations.

Pirelli has completed a number of tests using tires with an 18-inch rim in the past year, with the latest coming in a show-run using a GP2 car in Monaco two weeks ago.

French supplier Michelin has expressed an interest in returning to F1 in the event of a move from 13-inch to 18-inch rim tires.

However, speaking in Friday’s FIA press conference, technical bosses from Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren said that they would prefer to stick with the current size of rim.

“I think the broad consensus is that going to bigger wheels is not a good direction,” Mercedes’ Paddy Lowe said.

“Certainly from a grip point of view it’s not positive. Like for like, such tires will have a lower grip and the weight will go up considerably so it’s not an attractive direction performance-wise, so I think generally we would intend to stick with the 13 inch wheels.”

McLaren’s Matt Morris said that any changes would be dealt with accordingly by the teams, but he did explain how the changes would go beyond just the rim size.

“It is a big change like Paddy said,” Morris said. “It’s not just the tire size, it’s all the other parts that change with that, all the brake internals and what have you.

“From our side, we relish change as any engineer does so yeah, if that is going to change, we have a great knack of finding the best way around it and then potentially it’s an area where if you do a good job you can be competitive, so we’re happy if that was to go ahead.”

Ferrari’s James Allison was quick to identify the difference between a change in the size of the tire rim and that of the actual tire, with the latter still being a possibility for the future.

“As Paddy said, the rim diameter is going to stay where it is but the width of the tire is probably still up for grabs,” Allison said. “We’re discussing what that ought to be along with all the other aspects of the rules for around about that time.

“I would say that sooner the better would be good for things like that. Tires are maybe the most complicated bit of the car and the bit of the car that we have the least data about because we’re not allowed, by regulation, to test them, either on the track or off the track.

“So sooner the better from our point of view but there’s still time from where we are today. So as long as we get on with it from here it will be fine.”