F1 teams’ relief as Pirelli decides against changing 2014 tyre size
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Aug 2013   |  5:16 pm GMT  |  135 comments

The F1 teams heading back to work after the enforced summer shutdown with next week’s Belgian Grand Prix, will be relieved to learn that Pirelli has bowed to their wishes and decided against increasing the size of the rear tyres for 2014.

Just before the shutdown it emerged that Pirelli had requested some changes to the dimensions of the tyres for next year – they wanted to increase the rear-tyre width by 20mm to 400mm and the diameter to increase from 660mm to 690mm.

But today sources within Pirelli have confirmed to this website that the tyres will stay the same size.

JA on F1 technical expert Mark Gillan, former Williams chief operations engineer, analyses the situation:

“This was a really difficult one. On the one hand you can have sympathy for Pirelli; with new rules, no-one knows what the improvement will be in aerodynamics over the course of next season – there will be huge steps in development compared to this year for example, generating performance gains and thus significantly higher cornering loads – and Pirelli have to allow for that. They learned this lesson from the huge gains teams made with the blown diffusers, for example.

On the other hand, the last thing the teams needed now with 2014 chassis designs being finalised, was a significant last minute change like this, which would mean a lot of work in certain areas being thrown away and design teams having to start again, with very tight deadlines for producing chassis before the testing starts in January. (There is also a significant extra cost implication at a time when teams are already spending more on the new power trains)

No-one wants to see tyre failures, so Pirelli has to allow quite a margin. An increase in tyre size, as proposed by Pirelli, would have helped to produce a stronger tyre able to handle higher loads.

They don’t know what to expect because there has been no testing.

But it’s not surprising that 10 of the 11 teams were said to be against the change when it was discussed before the Hungarian Grand Prix. They feel that the footprint of the tyre should be fixed, as any change has a massive impact on aerodynamics and ride height.

The team’s headache over last minute changes

Ride Height: Currently F1 tyres have a diameter of 660mm, while it’s slightly more 670mm for wet tyres, to give more ride height to avoid aquaplaning. To change to 690mm at this stage is a real problem, as the layout of the cars will already have been done based on 660mm and to raise the cars this much is a huge difference. The rear ride height of the car is typically 100mm, so to raise it by 15mm at this stage is big.

Aerodynamic and mechanical change: The extra diameter and especially the width of the tyres will have a significant bearing on the aerodynamics of the car and the aerodynamicists would have to throw away a lot of the work they have done and start again with a different shape tyre and ride height changes. New wind tunnel tyres would have to be built with this aspect ratio of height to width, so teams can get accurate data from the wind tunnel. It will take significant time to do that with a new aspect ratio.

A change to the height of the rear wheel has an impact on pick up points of suspension, axle heights. It is very late in the day to be making that sort of change.

It is hard to explain to F1 fans just how sensitive an F1 car is to the contact patch and shape of the sidewall of the tyre, tiny differences make a big change to the numbers in the wind tunnel.

The timetable to build new cars
The issue needed to be resolved urgently as there is not a lot of time for teams to do all the new work they need to do to accommodate new tyre sizes.

The teams are up really against it in terms of getting the cars built for the earlier start of testing in 2014 (due to the introduction of complex new hybrid turbo engines, it’s been decided to allow more testing time, so the cars need to be ready in January, rather than the usual February 1 date).

Working backwards from the January tests, you need 2-3 months for chassis construction, so you really need to have the drawings released and signed off in late September.

So you can see that if teams had a load of work to redo, to incorporate these changes, there wasn’t a lot of time to do it.

It was looking especially tough for teams who buy in their power train, such as McLaren, Force India, Lotus and a possible advantage for the works teams: Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

The teams will be delighted to stay with the same aspect ratio of height to width as used currently.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Not in topic james but, what is the reason Rosberg’s engine has been blown up?

just because of banal in traffic overheating? I think there was no info from Mercedes about that.


I wondered how low profile tyres might look on F1 cars. Not bad it seems – if the Le Mans racers are a guide.

I’m sure F1 will come up with some fancy aerodynamic tweaks and tricks. Shame that the opportunity is missed. But its not Pirelli’s fault – they’ve been asking for contractual and rule clarity quite early on.



Who are the tyre experts, Pirelli or the teams?

I don’t understand why Pirelli always requests the team’s permission to make safety related tyre enhancements.

I hope they do a better job of the tyres and not mess up next season.


Who are the tyre experts, Pirelli or the teams?

I don’t understand why Pirelli always request the team’s to make safety related tyre enhancements.

I hope they do a better job of the tyres and not mess up next season.

Tornillo Amarillo

James, is it already signed the new contract with Pirelli?


No. I understand it that 8 teams are signed up, as is FOM for signage etc


Hi James do you know what the situation is with the tyre contract and any thoughts on reports that Riccardo has been given the red bull seat?


Working on it. Thoughts but not ones to share yet


Yeah F1 has been talking about it for years but as usual done nothing.

There is way to much politics and far less relevance being looked at.

There is a dinosaur running F1 with Stone Age mentality. The automotive industry had energy recover systems years ago and now only in 2014 F1 are doing it- under much protest of that same dinosaur! And now that we have it, F1 is still run on rims minis run on. The FIA needs to collaborate with the tyre supplier and the teams to make it happen.

I suspect the commercial agreement with Pirelli is something te FIA never really wanted and Bernie won on the money side of things again!


This is ridiculous and unfair on the part of the teams. They whine now and force Pirelli to comply with their wishes saying they do not have time to make changes. But the only reason they would not have time is because the teams- and F1- wasted time bickering over tire regs. Pirelli said several months ago they needed the teams to come to an agreement and needed F1 to finalize their contract so they could provide the teams with the 2014 tire specs in good time. Everyone needs to remember this if and when the high torque engines over-power the narrow rear tires in 2014 and we all complain that the drivers are driving at 70%.


It’s true. A cynical person would see politics from the teams making sure that there is always a high profile supplier where they can place the blame for their own failures.

This didn’t work very well with the fans blaming alternator suppliers but when Vettel blames the tires for costing him the win, when all other drivers are on the same tires, it seems to work. When DiResta or Button blame the tires for costing them time in qualifying when all other drivers, and their teammates, are on the same tires it works.


I see…

So the good-old idea of moving to more ‘normal’ tyres, i.e. away from the outdated and patently ridiculous high-profile ‘balloon’ tyres of today, is probably dead.

At first I thought it might be introduced later, as a deference to the already plentiful changes for 2014. But if the teams need to agree, even for a change as basic as the one proposed by Pirelli (to compensate for the 2014 engine’s ability to spin the tyres, I assume), I suppose a change as big as moving to low-profile tyres (AND suspension with radically increased travel, to compensate) is out of the question.

For those who don’t know/remember what I’m rambling about:



I think they would have been Ok a few months ago as they were not so far with the car design.


Yep, if they were going to go to low profile tyres then 2014 would have been the perfect time to do it since they’re already changing so much.

Nevermind, wait until the next big regulation change circa 2020 and we’ll all go ’round the F1 Merry-go-round again 🙂


My understanding is that the teams did not agree because they have already proceeded with the design of next year’s car. In the present financial climate, where a few teams are on the verge of collapse, most could not afford to redesign the car in order to incorporate the new tyres. My hope is that the subject is put on the table for discussion for the 2015 season.


Yes, but early in 2014 and not when the cars have already been designed!


So Pirelli have finalised the tyres for the entire 2014 season then?

That’s good – the teams must have peace of mind knowing that nothing related to the tyres can possibly change now 😉




As long as driver safety is guaranteed and no extra costs needed – they can make square tyres. I don’t mind.


I’m hugely disappointed they haven’t increased the minimum ride height of the cars…looks like we’re in for more wet races behind the safety car :/


Great point.


It is weird that Pirelli has no contract signed yet for 2014, but everyone tacitly thinks it is the supplier.



This is my question too… Is the tyre supply contract signed or not? Or is the delay all about price negotiations?

Personally I think Pirelli should close their F1dept. , lay off the staff and watch the FIA squirm!

Nobody else would be able to come in at short notice and so Pirelli would be able to supply whatever they want and F1 would just have to suck it up.


Except F1 wants to run on Fred Flintstone style stone tyres, Pirelli is the only option.

It is impossible to sign a new supplier for 2014 for enormous (read “tectonic”) legal and technical reasons.


If I’m honest I would rather see the return of the fat front tyres from 2009. They looked ridiculous, but with such a forward bias of grip they oversteered like there was no tomorrow.

As someone who watches a lot of on-board footage, I miss that (and the characteristic ‘DRS wobble’ that left with the banning of free DRS usage for this season too… though this isn’t really related).


Great idea. Why are we asking the teams what they want? Because the answer will be cars on rails, no surprises. When what the fans want is cars scrabbling for grip under braking and oversteer exiting the corners.


Agreed – driving on rails is just so dull… F1 drivers are not fighting at all with the cars…

Where is the fun in that?


No way! Bring back the pre 93 season tyre dimensions… 18 inch wide rear tyres power sliding through corners, yes please!

And while we’re on it, can we please have the wide lens on-board camera removed and replace with a “normal” lens? It’s alot more fun to watch the old onboard cameras where we can actually see how close the cars are than this stupid wide lens footage which makes the cars infront disappear into distance.


I second this! Also the insane precision of the image stabilization makes the ride look too smooth and comfortable. The old, less stabilized cameras made it look more spectacular.


It’ll be a little disappointing if we get to see ‘racing’ once again hindered by the tyres.


It’s my bet that Pirelli will go really conservative with compounds and construction in 2014 because they are to some extent going into the unknown. the sensible thing would have benn larger rear tyres, but I guess we will have to wait until 2015 for that.


I would assume the the one team that was in favor of changes is Mercedes, correct? Apparently they have an engine that can be as much as 100 HP more powerful and yes, they would need to have different tyres:-)


The engine regulations being what they are, I don’t believe they will be more than a 20 HP difference between the strongest and weakest. And much of that difference will be due to drivability considerations i.e. some manufacturers will sacrifice a few HP at peak revs in order to get a broader power curve.

The interesting question will be, who is going to have the most reliable motor next year? There’s a good chance that one of the three will be plagued with reliability issues for at least the first half of the season.


This whole story shows the lack of (high level technical) coordination in F1 nowadays. Or is perhaps Pirelli not as proactive to enage with the teams to discuss tyre design.

Could Pirelli not have foreseen that the loads on tyres would be much higher, and much earlier have engaged with the teams.


I thought it was generally accepted that the 2014 power units are being found to deliver more power than had been expected at the beginning of the year. How could Pirelli have been expected to anticipate the power output would be 10-15% more than all the leading engineers were telling them would be possible.

With this being learnt so near to the the first race with the new power plants it is not just the tyres that will need to be considered. January testing will really test the teams ability to think fast!


Pirelli had to make a forced mid-season change from the rubbish tyre lottery philosophy, so suddenly found themselves caught out with the requirements for solid tyres for 2014.

I’d put the blame for this late shuffling game squarely on Pirelli.


To be fair when it rains or you drop your ice cream cone you also put the blame on Pirelli.



More mechanical grip will equal geniune overtaking and slip-streaming…

Its been a long time since I’ve got a buzz from watching a driver use skill to get past another.

Colombia Concalvez

watch ”Lewis Hamilton – King Of The Kill” on Youtube


That is the problem – not all drivers can be Hamilton… you need more mechanical grip to allow lesser drivers to defend and attack like Hamilton.


I guess you mean 3 weeks is a long time. There were quite a few daring overtakes in the Hungarian Grand Prix.


DRS position swaps are about as exciting as watching a blue flag position swap…


Hamilton on Webber, Grosjean on Massa didn’t do it for you? Mechanical grip and balls won the day.

Maybe it was just an exaggeration to support an argument to fix a problem that doesn’t exist? ;-p

Tornillo Amarillo

Yes, this summer break is driving me crazy!!!


James, thanks for the very interesting article.

Who is that Ferrari employee on the photo?


So will Mercedes be using their wet setting in the dry?


Does anybody know which team agreed with the changes?


Merc reserved its vote


I would have preferred the broader and higher tires for a change.

James I thought by this time most team would’ve got their chassis designs sorted out? if not completed but at least 60% and above.

So when does FIA finalise the specs rules usually, they cant be changing them at the last minute sending teams into a panic situation.

That will surely affect the cost which they are trying to cut.


It is all about efficiency, both aero and energy. It is not about peak numbers so i do not buy much into mercedes Horse power advantage much.Plus the price difference on mercedes and renault is to much for no reason at all.


But since it’s fuel limited, efficiency is how you will get the power.


It’s not about power, it’s torque. The electric motors will have no problem spinning-up the rears… so increasing the tyre’s footprint would make quite a bit of sense.

Of course what would make even more sense, would be a move to the lower-profile tyres, as used in… erm, let’s see: oh yeah, everywhere except F1. First Michelin, then Avon then (drum-roll please) Pirelli advocated this change, back in 2010, i.e. when Bridgestone was leaving the sport, but it was quietly forgotten afterwards…


James it’s another perfect example of the FI really not taking a lead role and thinking things through. As much as I dislike Pirellis take on things there is a real lack of consideration going into the rules. The powertrain formula has been in discussion for what 2 years now. Since Easter Pirelli have been pleading for more testing and feedback for 2014 ( hence Merc trial) and now here we are another season almost gone and we have heavier cars and more torque with the same basic tyre!- aside of the reliability concerns is its a sporting and entertainment concern we will not see the full performance of the new cars because they are again limited by that demonised word- tyres!!.

Of course the teams don’t want to start again – the real question is why have the FIA sat on their hands without factoring this in early in the year ot even last year and have a more open dialogue with the teams and tyre supplier – especially when we have a Paul Hembrey beating his head on the wall for months suggesting they do it! Really really Ridiculous!..last thing anyone wanted to be talking about in 2014 racing season.


Agreed, you would swear Pirelli just recently found out about 2014, and they’re only now scratching their about it to find solutions.


Its just the tyre dimensions that will remain the same, not the construction or compounds.


Yes but if you have more torque at lower revs you will have more corner exit wheel spin,sliding, and hence we will have more controlled driving and racing.


Of course it is way too late to change for 2014. It’s not Pirelli’s fault.

Hopefully changes can be made for 2015. It will be good to have more mechanical grip back in the cars.


The change I would like to see for 2015 is the low-profile tyres we were promised back when Pirelli was entering the sport.


I beg to differ.

Of course the geometry and general engineering is well understood. However with F1 being so extreme and the current components having been optimised for aero, current geometry and minimal weight the change is massive. Some current components break – changing to bigger wheels would make the shock loadings far greater and the learning curve for brake cooling and heat management would be pretty steep. The suspension would have to be far stronger and heavier leading to more space being needed in the front of the monocoque – and, therefore, significant changes to the whole car aero concept. If, as you suggest, it increased front downforce then, again, this effect the whole car as McLaren have suffered this year. Many have suggested that their problem is a poor front wing – but they are running a lesser front wing because they have not caught up with the rest of the car. Front – back aero balance is extremely important.


Erm, read “heat” instead of “head”, further up. Sorry about that…


Brake cooling and heat management?

Bigger wheels=bigger brakes=more mass for the head to spread on=less heat.

As for the strength of the suspension, once again: MOST other formulas have low-profile tyres. F1 is the one that’s grossly out of date. There are plenty of racing engineers out there that know how to solve these problems. Yes, this would have probably been an unnecessary distraction had it been set to appear in 2014, but I really don’t see why it can’t be pencilled in for ’15.

Beyond all that, in the current F1 cars ANYTHING that takes focus away from aero surely must be a plus… so the potential for such a change to increase downforce, is the one thing I fear could make the idea backfire.


+ 1

With the steering and suspension changes this would need it would be as big, if not bigger than, an engineering change as the 2014 power units.


Not really… other Formulas already have such tyres and suspension, so they won’t be starting from a clean slate.

Not only that, but with more ‘complete’ control over the suspension, maintaining ride height and therefore, a more stable stance over the track, such a change might actually INCREASE downforce.

It will also be more efficient, and therefore more in keeping with the new, ‘green’ face that F1 seems desperate to acquire.


Totally off topic this but my mates were going on and on about at the match earlier. Would love some inside intel on it to shut them up! What does it mean for the British GP and who are the new bosses? Looks really important if this is true:



From that article:

“The circuit has a contract in place to host the British Grand Prix until 2027”

New owners shouldn’t make a difference…in theory.


They aren’t new owners, they have purchased a lease.

The ownership of Silverstone and BRDC’s rights are ring fenced


That’s what is being reported on Autoweek:

The British Racing Drivers Club, the owner of the Silverstone circuit, is expected to announce next month that the British Grand Prix venue has finally been sold on a long lease to a real estate developer.

The 800 BRDC members oppose an outright sale but the club has been trying to sell a lease on Silverstone for several years. That process was accelerated in December 2009, when it secured an unprecedented, 17-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One group. Facility development was a condition of the deal and in 2011 the BRDC invested heavily in changes to the track configuration and construction of a new pits and paddock complex. The works contributed to the BRDC’s debt pile of more than $40 million.


Yes but the detail is that it’s a lease

Silverstone is ring fenced by statute it cannot be sold outright


James my understanding of this was that the BRDC sold the circuit but still own the rights to the lease – meaning they can still operate the British GP. The sale of the land will allow the development of a business park and other assets at the circuit whilst the circuit still remains tied to the British GP via the lease and the rights.


It says the lease is 150 years which is no different to owning something. Most houses in places like London have leases for 150 years or more and the people who buy them are the owners. Dont see why Silverstone is any different but what will the new lot do?


Not according to ESPN:

“Silverstone is under new ownership after being sold by the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC)”

So JA vs. ESPN?

Difficult decision lol – sticking with JA 🙂


Read lower down – they say its a lease


Can only mean ticket prices will be going up.

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