July 8, 2014
Concept meant to demonstrate aesthetics more than performance
Tomorrow, at one of the sanctioned in-season F1 testing days (this one to be held at Silverstone), Pirelli will be rolling out a new tire concept that could drastically change the look and engineering of racing in the world’s top series.
Teams currently engineer their cars around using tires mounted on 13-inch wheels with fairly tall sidewalls. However, this new concept by Pirelli looks to give F1 rubber a lower profile, stiffening up the tire but also losing out on branding space for themselves.
The concept is mainly meant as an aesthetic demo of what a Formula 1 car could look like in the future if shod with larger wheels and tires, with Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery stating “there’s scope to go even bigger than (18 inches) in Formula One in years to come.”
Pirelli has shown interest in constructing larger tires for Formula 1 since they joined the sport as sole supplier for all teams in 2010, following the exits of Michelin and Bridgestone. The Italian company stated they’d like to bring their F1 tires closer to road tires, in order to use the sport as a test bed for future road use, but they are not actively pushing the idea on teams.
A change of this magnitude would have some engineering consequences on teams. Suspensions are currently designed and engineered with tall sidewalls with lots of flex taken into account. A new 18-inch wheel and tire combination would require considerable effort on behalf of teams should they choose to go this way in the future.
The concept will do demonstration laps tomorrow fitted to a current-year Lotus F1 Team E22 chassis.