Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Pirelli debuts 18-inch concept tyre as Bianchi heads timesheet for Ferrari
Posted By:   |  09 Jul 2014   |  5:58 pm GMT  |  143 comments

This week’s final day of testing at Silverstone saw Lotus’ Charles Pic complete 14 laps using Pirelli’s proposed 2017 specification 18-inch tyres as Kimi Raikkonen’s test replacement Jules Bianchi topped the times for Ferrari.

The current 13-inch wheel, which was in use for all others and for Pic later in the day is expected to be dispensed with in 2017, however Pirelli Director of Motorsport, Paul Hembery, today said that the change could come as soon as 2016 should the Italian company be given the green light from the FIA.

“We weren’t looking for performance,” Hembery told reporters at Silverstone; “the priority was to show people what a Formula One car would look like with a change of [wheel] rim.

“We will supply the people in the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission with images, so people can make a decision on the future regulations based on fact rather than computer-generated images: that was the real objective.”


Of course, with such drastic changes in configuration there must be structural changes in the tyre itself and Hembery added that today’s test had confirmed the manufacturer’s suspicions about the technical challenges the switch might bring.

“We confirmed what we knew,” he said. “You have more rigid sidewalls, so you do have an integrity challenge; the car’s sensitivity to camber will be very high; the front tyre will create a very aggressive turn in; there will be big variations in pressure. We need more detailed studies on that.

“For now, we were just confirming the things we know, and the areas you would need to start working on if indeed this is where the sport will go – and that is really now in the hands of the decision makers.”


Away from today’s main spectacle regular Marussia racer Bianchi impressed on his test outing for Ferrari, in place of Kimi Raikkonen who is being rested following his high-speed crash during last weekend’s British Grand Prix.

The Frenchman completed 89 laps for a best time of 1:35.262, just 0.02s adrift of Fernando Alonso’s best for the Scuderia in the second free practice session of the British GP weekend.

Behind Bianchi, Daniil Kyvat ended the day in second place, three tenths of a second off the pace. Kevin Magnussen was third for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton, fifth fastest today, had a spin early in the session and remained in the garage until 2pm, eventually completing 47 laps.

Sebastian Vettel, who spent the day testing 2015 Pirelli compounds as Red Bull Racing fulfilled its mandatory tyre testing day, finished the session in ninth place after he was sidelined for almost three hours as his team spent much of the late morning and early afternoon changing the power unit in his RB10.

Silverstone In-Season Test
1. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m35.262s 89
2. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m35.544s +0.282s 56
3. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1m35.593s +0.331s 91
4. Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1m36.327s +1.065s 84
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.680s +1.418s 47
6. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m37.193s +1.931s 40
7. Max Chilton Marussia 1m37.359s +2.097s 77
8. Daniel Juncadella Force India 1m37.449s +2.187s 52
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m39.410s +4.148s 76
10. Charles Pic Lotus 1m41.906s +6.644s 38
11. Julian Leal Caterham 1m42.635s +7.373s 51

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

If this is a attempt to make F1 more attractive, then i think it is a quite cheap one. Best if they change some fundamental things instead of these ‘symbolic’ adjustments.


So F1 is SO big on becoming closer to road cars with (Yuch!!!) hybrid power…yet they run around with tires that have sidewalls that are from the 50’s.

The larger tires look cool, the present tires look like dinosaurs.

Tradition is for losers…innovation is for winners.

Btw – hybrid power is not an innovation, IMO…it’s a compromise.

Major manufacturers hate all-electric cars because they have fewer moving parts and don’t break down as often (and dealers despise them as roughly 50% of their profits come from service/parts sales).

But manufacturers need to seem green. Solution…hybrid.

More complex, more parts, more cost, more profit and they look ‘green’ while doing it.

I hate them…either all electric or all internal combustion for me.

Btw, I really hope the new Formula electric series takes off.


Just a belated point, Its not just about road relevance or the looks & its not something been pushed by the FIA or Bernie/FOM.

Larger tyres is something that every tyre supplier thats been in F1 recently has wanted. Bridgestone wanted to move to 15″ tyres, Michelin proposed 18″ tyres & Pirelli have been doing the same since they entered F1.

One reason not been mentioned so far is that pretty much every other category already uses larger tyres, Indycar runs 15″ & Sportscars, GT & some other open wheel categories already run 18″ tyres.

As such F1 going the same way will allow tyre suppliers share tyre data across categories & use the same tyre molds, Compounds & construction.

Bridgestone were pushing for 15″ so they could share data between F1 & Champcar/Indycar.

Michelin wanted 18″ tyres so it could share data between F1 & some of the other categories it runs in (WEC for example).

Right now with F1 tyres been smaller than every other category tyre suppliers are not really able to share data across categories & they have to come up with F1 specific tyre molds & other tyre construction equipment.


I don’t really care so longs they are wider and stickier and put the onus back on mechanical grip rather than aero.


It’s such a shame we don’t get a ‘like’ button here… 😀


I like the 18″ rims. They look a lot better than I thought they would. The main benefit though, I think, is that a lower profile tyre should lessen the impact of the tyres’ characteristics on the cars. At present, most of the suspension’s work is being done by the tyre’s sidewall so I suspect a smaller, thicker sidewall would shift that onus back to the cars and make the tyres a bit more neutral than they’ve been in recent years.


“the front tyre will create a very aggressive turn in”

Hmmm I seem to recall that Alonso, favours an aggressive turn in. If that’s true, then this wheel can’t get here fast enough for him.

Dear FIA,

Due to safety concerns of an uninteresting remainder of the 2014 season, please expedite the changes to 18″ wheels. For next race would be just fine.

Signed: tongue in cheek.


After looking at the new rims for … maybe a minute and a half, when I saw the next image, the Ferrari, with the red 13 inch Pirellis, I thought, “those are old fashioned’.

We should have 18 inch rims for next season.


Personally I like the look, but I’m biased. Those rims are almost identical to the 18″ gold rims on my STI!

Joking aside, I’m floored that something sensible, road relevant, not ugly, not costly and competition skewing is being suggested.

I don’t want to see a show, I want to see a race.


Not an STI fan (I have a Forrie myself) but it’s closer to what we want.

I’m writing this because the last car I drove with 13″ wheels was a 1997 Renault Megane…


Love the proposed new rims and makes the car look even better. Always thought the current 13 inchers were an anachronism both visually and technically. Bring them on…


Sounds like 70% of fans in favour. Not much opposition, quite a bit of apathy


James, an important question please

can I ask are you able to confirm that Bianchi drove Alonso’s car for the test, and that PdlR drove Kimi’s??

Bianchi matched Alonso’s average laptime

dl Rosa lagged behind Kimi’s average laptime.

This is crucial


About time F1 moved to a more road relevant wheel. The tyre development technology transfer is more accurate with 18″ wheels and this will benefit road car tyres which if F1 is pushing the transfer of technology between race and road should be welcomed.

They look superb as well although people will have different views on this but as with most things change can initially look weird but once familiar the benefits will be more apparent.

Hope they change for 2016. The 13″ wheels have always looked weedy with the massive profile needed so hope this is one change they push through quickly.


I like the new rims and think they should be brought in sooner. Large sidewalled tyres just look so dated now.


If anyone’s counting, I’m voting yes for low profile tyres. I like the look of them and they are road relevant.


James if you catch this I’d appreciate a response.

I am extremely confused why Pirelli feels the need to jump to an 18″ rim for a variety of reasons:

A) 18″ is by no means the most common road wheel size.

B) Formula 1 is about the greatest performance and most optimized formula for a pure racing machine. Not to develop technologies for vehicles which possess the extreme opposite of uses.

C) A road tyre and a racing (specifically F1) tyre are used for again extreme opposite uses and therefore require completely different constructions, compounds, durability, temperature ranges etc.

So again to clarify my question – Why do F1 technologies need to drive road technology directly when the two areas ask for different demands? My opinion is – Formula 1 should innovate under it’s own power and by it’s own demands and then road technology should borrow concepts from F1 where it can apply. Right now it seems that the road side is actually influencing the race side in a sort of coercing method.

Thanks in advance.


I have asked this question for years and still no-one has been able to give me an accurate answer, or at least one that I couldn’t shoot down in about 5 seconds flat.


Interesting view. It’s part of a wider rethink of the way F1 cars can be re-imagined for the future, what do teams, fans, manufacturers, FIA etc want F1 cars to look like?

It’s long term thinking – makes a welcome change


WIll this new tyre tech drive a change in behaviour in the event of a puncture?

Could these smaller sidewalls enable some sort of run-flat technology seen in road cars? The current cost of running a lap with a deflated tyre is huge – the risk of speed vs avoiding destroying the car with flailing rubber. Would this change significantly with the new spec tyres?


I wasn’t too sure about it before, but I quite like the look of that Lotus on 18’s. Can definitely get used to that.


I am loving it. They look sexy.

The balloon tyres look silly now.


wild driving

they will make driving so difficult on extreme maneuvers and torque control will come back to pilot’s feet..

good shake for engineers too,

suspension systems engineering will get bigger developing importance against aerodynamics

at the end of the day, if engineering make the cars be the fastest, overall efficiency will become a huge advance…


Can someone tell me: if the designers had a free choice as to whether to use 13″ or 18″ tyres, which would they go for on grounds of performance alone? Which would be faster, a car designed round the 13″s or around the 18″s, all things being equal?


I quite like the look of the new rims. And I strongly suspect that the considerations mentioned (about sidewall integrity, etc) are probably due to the fact that the test car was using 13″ rim-spec suspension, which surely is misleading, since the current tyres account for about half the suspension travel, not to mention side-by-side flex…

Brakes will get a whole lot bigger, too, it seems.


How much money are Ferrari spending on changes to the car just to accommodate Kimi? Bianci then gets in the car and within 1 day goes over 1 second faster. Gives Ferrari something to think about?


Bianchi matched Alonso’s time, yes. But we need to know if he was driving Alonso’s car and not Kimi’s. It may be there are specific issues unique to Kimi’s car which affect its handling.

De la Rosa drove Kimi’s car on the first day, and if it is the case that Bianchi drove Alonso’s car, then I think Ferrari have to resolve this.


F1 is trying to be road car relevant with their F1 race cars by adopting more and more car-related things. Engines (now called PUs), KERS (now seen on super cars, Prius, etc), and now 18″ wheels.

Why not just use road cars for F1 then? A hell lot more easier, cheaper and quicker done. Comes with it are airbags to protect the drivers, A, B, C pillars plus rollcages for better protection, more body surfaces for aero, and a lot more you can think of. In turn that’ll make entry to F1 cheap as you can just bring any road car to F1 without serious R&D structure, hell you can even bring your Toyota Prius to the race as it’s pretty much setup and ready with just some modifications / updates needed to comply with the rules.

So there you go, FiA, solved. *feeling baffled*


Again I’m liking your posts :).

The whole idea that an F1 car is road relevant I find rather perplexing. The 2 are inherently different.

And nowadays manufacturers can do so much testing in their labs, on simulators etc, and then get them out on test-tracks around the world for real-world testing, that I don’t really understand why F1 is trying to be a part of this role anymore. 10-20 years ago maybe, but not now, the world’s moved on, technology has moved on.

With this in mind, F1 might aswell just revert back to being the pure and simple sprint racing series we all loved in the first place. I’m pretty sure the youth of today would have enjoyed F1 from 10-20 years ago where it really was all about wheel to wheel racing.

It just needs to not be so blooming expensive.

Put it this way, the engine saved the horse from working, so the horse became an item for leisure. Hybrid power vehicles should do the same for petrol vehicles, so F1 can become an item for leisure aswell.

But I stress again, it can only happen if costs come down. No-one is going to spend 150 million a year on a hobby. Unless they’ve got a humongous tax bill waiting in the wings :).


Thank you, goonerf1.


The wheels looks much better than current 13 inches. It would be great if teams also had a choice of colour they want to use so they can match with the colour of the car!

Just need louder exhaust now and it’s done deal. Watching previous year V8 and V10 engines and you realise how much more of a spectacle it brings to the sport.

And please get rid of the schlong noses…


I think I read somewhere that Michelin wants to come back to F1 but would like with this configuration of tire instead of the current one. Can any one confirm this? As far as they look, I would have to agree they don’t look as appealing as the F1 wheels and tires of present. That being said Im sure we would all get use to them quickly.

The comment from Allen that these tires will have less grip is interesting. If that is true and there is no reason to not believe what Allen says, then I am all for them. This would again be an element that would challenge the drivers and hopefully put the racing back in hands of the drivers and not the aero guys.

if the racing benefits I could care less how the wheels and tires look. if tires like this produce more of the racing the likes of which we witnessed b/t Alonso and Vettel this past sunday, put them on the cars asap…



Yes, that’s true. Michelin already make 18″ tyres for Formula E, LeMans and… oh, just about everything else.

It’s almost as if the technology isn’t new…


I know right! It’s almost as if people are starting to wake up from their own little F1 bubble, looking at other motorsports around the world, and realising, woah! F1 is actually a pretty long way behind everyone else.


This was certainly Michelin’s position a few years ago. Would be surprised if they had changed their views.


Yep it’s true that Michelin would only consider a return to F1 on the basis of this tyre change.

Whether we want a tyre war though is a very different thing.

Personally I’d be against it.

I think F1 are very lucky to have Pirelli at the moment, because they are willing to do whatever the FIA ask, and sometimes at great expense to their reputation. I don’t know which other tyre companies would.

Being a tyre supplier in F1 is a thankless task.


I heard on the grapevine that Bridgestone are considering it too for 2017 with 18″ wheels


tyre war good or bad for F1 racing?


I like the look, but I’d like to see 18s at the front and 20s at the rear

Top Tags