Lotus E22, Silverstone, 2014

First pictures: Pirelli & Lotus begin 18-inch wheel test

2014 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Pirelli and Lotus have begun their test of 18-inch Formula 1 wheels and tyres at Silverstone.

The team’s E22 chassis is running on the prototype rubber for the second day of testing today. It will be driven by Charles Pic.

Formula One rules currently stipulate the use of 13-inch wheels. Pirelli have said they only intend to pursue the idea providing there is agreement from “the teams, promoter and other stakeholders” to do so.

Although the new rubber has the same width as the 13-inch tyres, its diameter is 30mm larger. The total weight of the tyre plus wheel is 4kg heavier.

The main advantage of the lower profile rubber, according to Pirelli, is that as it contains less air the pressure within it remains more consistent.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says he was pleased with the test and response to it. “In our view, the new tyres looked stunning fitted to the Lotus, and the reaction has already been felt all over the world,” he said.

“These are just a prototype concept, but if the teams decided that they wanted us to proceed in this direction, we have the capability to carry on development in this area and come up with a production-ready version in a comparatively short space of time. We’ve heard a lot of opinions already and we look forward to canvassing other opinions in the coming weeks and months.

“Even though performance wasn’t by any means priority here, the new tyres still behaved exactly in line with our expectations, so we’re clearly potentially at the beginning of a huge development curve, with the wheel and tyre size rules having remained unaltered for many years.”

Pic gave his impression of driving on the new wheels: “It was a very early evaluation test and the different tyres and wheels affect the aerodynamics of the car quite a lot,” he said, “but you could certainly feel that the tyres felt different to those we’re used to on an F1 car”.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

2014 F1 season

Browse all 2014 F1 season articles

Image via Lotus on Twitter

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

145 comments on “First pictures: Pirelli & Lotus begin 18-inch wheel test”

  1. Nice! Really looking good. However with tyre degradation, They’ll look like trains after 5 laps! :)

    1. @spoutnik

      Well, they always said the cars run on rails XD

    2. I SERIOUSLY don’t like it…

      1. Just wait till they add the spinning rims to improve “the show” next year! LMAO!!!!

        1. exactly!! also put chrome, hidraulic suspension and some hip hop during race, jeesh, the f1 sucks and gonna sucks more

        2. @daved it looks like a train… 18 inches is way too much… there’s so much empty space in the middle of the rim, the discs look tiny.

          I don’t see this as a needed change…

          1. Yeah, I thought I’d like it, but I’m not sure now that I’ve seen it. I’d get used to it, but it looks just “strange”.

            I wonder what it does to the overall weight of the wheels? Less rubber, but longer spokes on the magnesium allow wheels….would it balance out or be slightly lighter/heavier???

            Would the contact patch be more consistent with less tyre deformation? Does anyone have technical details about how this would affect performance?

          2. Remember the current brakes are designed to fit in 13″ rims

          3. @raceprouk I seriously down FIA wants braking distance to be shorter…

            @daved I bet they are heavier. It also needs more torque to rotate, there’s more mass, more unsprung weight…

            Again, I don’t see this as a necessary change…

          4. @fer-no65 – They won’t be; the tyres can only handle so much :P
            Bigger brakes will be easier to cool though

        3. they’ll ban it because it’s an “movable aerodynamic device” :D

      2. Yes, maybe they could be an inch or two smaller, yes, they look a bit strange, but generally I like it.
        Remember new noses, new engines and new sound? Almost everyone were shouting it’s ugly, too “eco”, too quiet, it’s not F1 etc. Now – silence. People got over it and enjoy racing, I bet we’ll have the same story with big rims.

        Also I don’t know what problem some people have with relevance to road cars.

    3. I’ve seen many negative opinions. It feels weird to go against the stream, but I really like the looks of these. I am, however, quite worried about the costs that its introduction would have. Having to redesign the suspensions, brakes, car geometry in general, must be a pain in the arse for the engineers and another contradiction in F1’s already bad “cost-cutting policy”. As awesome they might look, I don’t know if it’d be convenient to make them mandatory.

      1. Yeah, I’m really surprised by those many negative opinions aswell. It looks perfect to my eyes. Feels weird to be in favor of something new about F1 these days, but really liked it this time…

        1. A fair number of negative comments are about how the brakes don’t fill behind the wheels. Seems they expected Lotus to waste money making new brakes just for a feasibility test.

      2. I don’t think they look bad and as F1 always talks about being relevant to road cars, I think this is a logical step to make. Hopefully it can help to entice more manufacturers too.

  2. That looks really good. I wonder how the cars will perform with them on though, they would need a fundamental rethink of the suspension set up to get the most out of them.

    1. i imagine it will be a pretty hard ride now, as its missing about a 3rd of suspension (which is currently done by the tyre sidewalls!)

      1. I wonder how much of a knock-on effect this will have on performance/set-up…

        With less sidewall and less travel in the tyres, it changes what was almost a constant between all teams (tyre pressures could be adjusted) into something that is in the teams control, allowing more variance across the grid.

        The other thing that I think will have a bigger impact is, bigger wheels could mean bigger breaks, making managing and cooling the breaks nearly a non-issue. That is one element of this years F1 I have really enjoyed, when teams are lifting and coasting to manage break temperatures meaning the cars behind can attack into corners.

        Does anyone know if there is an explicit rule governing the size of breaks, or is it simple a case of what fits into the wheels.

        1. @alanore the maximum thickness and diameter is in the regulations.

    2. @geemac it’s not just the suspension also aerodynamics needs a complete rethinking. The costs would be enormous, considering you have to start from scratch with your car. imo, introducing these tyres would defeat the purpose of all cost saving initiatives.

      1. You do know all the teams develop the aero constantly, irrespective of changes to tyres and wheels?

  3. Corrado (@)
    9th July 2014, 9:38

    Nope, not for me. Try 15” (or 16” max) !

    1. Not for me either.

  4. Like a real tuner with tiny stock brakedisks. Don’t really like it.

  5. Milky White
    9th July 2014, 9:42

    I say use these but let the discs grow to fill the rim and stipulate that the disc must be visible from the outside so you can see them glow red in the corners.

    1. I agree, i think this will happen anyway, as it will make sense for the teams to make the discs bigger as it will bring the discs closer to the wheel and aid tyres getting temperature into tyres

      1. i disagree on the basis that it would make the brakes too powerful (bigger disc equals more stopping power) and therefore braking zones would be too short, hampering overtaking. i realise most overtaking is now done in DRS zones, but that sucks! outbraking manoeuvres are the best.

        1. Bigger brakes DO NOT mean shorter stopping distances. The limiting factor on braking distance is tire grip.

          1. To add to this the only true advantage to larger brakes is to aid in cooling.

            If you can still lock your wheels up your not being limited by anything but the tire compound.

  6. It totally reminds me of a V8 Ariel Atom. Probably it’s the paint scheme as well. I like it.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      9th July 2014, 9:48

      I’m not a big fan of the bigger wheel rims, but I totally agree that it looks like the Ariel Atom. My first thought when I saw it haha

  7. I like it! :)

  8. I kind of like it but I think 15´s would be more than enough.

  9. Nice! I don’t think they look as good here as they could with another car… them big gold wheels of the Lotus are a bit ugly to me!

  10. Rear one I could survive, but the front one looks like some crappy cart wheel. And I don’t mean racing carts, I mean horse-pulled cart.

    1. Alex McFarlane
      9th July 2014, 22:00

      Maybe 18-inch rears and 15-inch fronts would look better, would give it a bit more of a retro look

      1. as long as they keep the low profile, if not, they will look plain ridiculous…

      2. @Alex McFarlane – I would love that. will make the cars look like the old days…

  11. First impression of that is that it looks ridiculous. From the renders it looked like it’ll be good and it may just be the angle this picture is taken at, but it looks like someone has gone out and bought the biggest wheels they could find to put on their car to look cool and its had the complete opposite effect.

    1. I dont think it helps the imagination when you see these enormous wheels, and then the word ‘saxo’ written on the sidepod, instantly takes the mind to max power magazine.

      Personally though, I like the larger wheels, I think a better rim design would make a huge difference. 18 inches of difference.

  12. Can we keep the small ones at the front, please…?

    1. A difference between front and rear would be much appreciated, yes. However, the current 13-inch rims with the current tyres seem as big as the new 18-inch-rims with those proposed new tyres, whereas what I would wish for is rather the front/rear-ratio of the late 70s.

      1. Exactly! I want the tyres to be fatter too, the rear ones…

      2. I LOVE IT! But I want fatter tyres as well in the

  13. Looks like chariot wheels, don’t like it one bit.

    1. My thought exactly. This is a big no no for me…

  14. I like the 13″
    The 15 ones make me think about ‘regular’ racing cars, wich F1 are not.

  15. That looks like someone built an F1 model in their shed. Horrible, just horrible.

    1. Yes- now we’re talking !!!

    2. Oh, yes…PLEASE bring those wheels back!!!! We could have real racing again!

  16. I think its a bit much. I’d like to hear about how they drive though. I’d expect that they’re very sensitive, and can get away quite quickly with little chance of saving it. Would be sad to lose the big drifts we’ve had this year, but more punishment for over-driving would be welcome.

    1. Increase in braking capacity is going to shorten braking distances too, making out-braking someone more marginal. This is what’s given rise to the Tilke long-straights-into-hairpins methodology.

      1. The current brakes can already provide more stopping power than the tyres can handle, so bigger brakes won’t decrease braking distances appreciably. What they’ll make much easier is brake cooling, which should actually improve reliability overall.

  17. Matt (@hamiltonfan1705)
    9th July 2014, 10:43

    Do notice a difference but I can tell when they are introduced for real by the first race with them we will have completely forgotten about them

  18. In terms of aesthetics, this is hideous, ugly as hell!! how someone could think this looks good is beyond me.

  19. I think it looks great

    1. Matty Nowell
      10th July 2014, 10:38

      I like them too.

  20. I agree with @electrolite, it looks like an unhappy choice of colour: http://oi61.tinypic.com/2yufzm8.jpg

    They don’t look so bad, though.

  21. Absolutely gorgeous! Lets be having some of these please!

  22. The rim isn’t deep enough. It looks deeper and thus better in the preview picture Pirelli gave.

    But hey, it’s more up-to-date and not gimmicky, refreshing on the back of the introduction of the Super bonus Double Points Season Finale Bonanza.

    1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      9th July 2014, 11:31

      The rear rim looks deep enough, although I wouldn’t object to it being deeper. But the front definitely needs more depth.

  23. Oh, and there’s Saxo Bank instead of EMC^2 (based on E=MC^2 they might as well have written E^2 since E^2=EMC^2).

    Congrats on that, Team Enstone!

  24. The US broadcasters often point out how the sidewall of the tire acts as a part of the suspension when it flexes and I’m sure that is taken into consideration when the cars are designed. So I don’t think changing to the larger wheel and low profile tire is as simple as bolting them on, as it will probably require major suspension changes. So how does this fit into the cost cutting measures?

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      9th July 2014, 13:31

      The biggest benefactor will be Pirelli, as 18″ wheels are very similar to what they provide in most other racing series. This saves them a lot of money as current F1 tires are much different and expensive.

      I believe Pirelli, Michelin, and Bridgestone were pushing for lower profile tires for the past few years, primarily for the reason above.

      As for the suspension, it needs to be softer because it will be doing more movement than with current wheels. It would have to be redesigned similar to a road car to get the most benefit from these new wheels.

    2. @velocityboy I read years ago that the sidewall is about 50% of the suspension travel. So even if it’s only 10% of the suspension travel, all teams will spend millions in suspension R&D to optimize everything. And to think the teams and FIA “want to save money”

    3. @velocitybo As evidenced by this test, they can just bolt on the wheels and it works. No redesign required.

      But of course they will optimize the suspension, because it will give them large performance improvement that’s guaranteed, instead of spending tens or hundreds of millions on aero finding tenths or not finding them in many cases.

      They redesign the suspension each year anyway to find small aerodynamic benefits (like pull rods, or McLaren mushrooms etc.) or to suit the new chassis requirements and tyre changes, or to simply optimize the system.

      All that would change for next year is that the requirements and geometric options would be slightly different as they start the new design.

      And the teams don’t have to make any major changes anyway, as seen here. But they would be silly not to do so, because everybody will, because it will be a cheap performance boost.

      FIA have just given the teams a much bigger headache and technical problem to be solved by (potentially) banning FRIC suspension mid-season.

  25. Surprised by the negativity from some. Looks amazing to me, much more modern. Two thumbs up!
    Would love to see a poll on them.

  26. I say bring them on. I like them.

  27. I think they are a tad big. 15-16,s would look miles better.

  28. totocaster (@)
    9th July 2014, 13:16

    What is the ultimate purpose for the switch? Looks or road tyre advancement? I do like current fluffy donuts, but if 18 inch ones will drastically improve road and sport-street tyres, so let it be.

    1. it is nonsense to think an 18 inch tyre on a 600kg 750hp single seater pitting 2-3 times a race will improve road tyre technology. there are so many other racing series with cars closer to road cars to develop technology to filter to road cars – but road cars drive at such slower speeds than any racing series and don’t need extreme turning and braking, so I don’t see how any racing series will help make better road tyres, the road tyres we have are already excellent in the past 20 years, even chinese made ones. in the past 20 years I have noticed lower profile tyres just make for a stiffer ride, it seems to only be fashion that we have bigger wheels. low profile tyres often have less rubber on them and cost more too…

      1. totocaster (@)
        9th July 2014, 14:35

        Generally, I’m on the same page. I’m not confident to know much about tyre technology. In case you are right, only thing I can think of is another disruption for teams. I’m pretty sure it will have huge impact on thermal management of tyres, break technology and maybe even suspension architecture and aerodynamics.

      2. when michelin introduced the radial tyres in the 70¿s they still were open wheelers going faster than any other road car, and now pretty much any road car uses the radial… why wouldn’t it work?

      3. You never know what tech they can take from race tyres to road tyres.

  29. Michael Brown (@)
    9th July 2014, 13:26

    I’m looking forward to how these wheels will perform, but the colour and rim design just doesn’t work for me. They look better in black or grey.

  30. Looks hideous, if I’m honest.

  31. Can anybody, skilled enough, to resize the tyre and the rim to 15”-16” ?!? I’m really curious how a wheel like that wheel.

    1. trying another link

  32. oh god it’s like a rapper’s car with the bling bling yo! going on with the flow!
    please keep the 13′ inch wheels

  33. I never liked it when road cars went to bigger wheels, I don’t see the point, seems to make cars more stiff on the road. I also hate on road cars when people put bigger wheels on their cars, “pimping” them, and making them look like prams. I don’t want to see f1 cars have pram wheels. f1 cars are so small…. why put these pram wheels on? it makes sense maybe on a large 4wd, but a 600kg open wheeler? and Pirelli are talking even bigger – 20 inch. I guess that will suit Hamilton’s hip hop image, maybe they can attach a subwoofer to the back of the cars to (to amplify the exhaust).

  34. With the bigger wheels, are they going to allow for bigger brakes as well? There seems to be a lot of space available now.

  35. My opinion is: 13-inch is to small 18 to big! Diameter of new wheel rim is almost the same as the complete 13-inch tire. The irony is that new concept tires are tested by the team that doesn’t know how to use 13-inch rubber properly, not to mention 18…

    1. don’t be silly, it doesn’t matter if they use them better or worse then other teams, so much info can be gained by whatever team testing them – at least they are testing them on an f1 car, instead of say a gp2 car. it is a first run anyway – just for general data, it is not like they are race ready tyres.

      1. I agree with you regarding the new tires. However, the situation they’re having at the moment as a team requires 110% effort dedicated to solve contemporary issues. The show should be the last thing on their mind. The season started off on the wrong foot for Lotus F1 team, it might end up in the same manner.

  36. I hope Charles Pic gives an insight into the tyres, and doesn’t do PR speak. he was 9 seconds off the pace with the 18 inches :P

    1. Makes sense since the car would not have in it the right suspension to deal with these new rims/tires. Made me wonder the value of testing these tires but perhaps Pirelli has gleaned at least some info for themselves while at the same time F1 getting a feel, in a trial balloon sort of way, for viewers reaction.

  37. Someone asked for image how the tyre & rim will be is it was 15″ but i cannot find the question to reply there so here is a fast examble that i did in photoshop…. not my best work but you get the idea.


    1. Liam McShane (@)
      9th July 2014, 15:14

      That looks much nicer, good job.

    2. I asked for a 15”-16” wheel. Actually, wanted to see them on the car, but it’s great that way too. Thanks a lot. Looks like a pro job. Still think the 13” should be kept in the end.

    1. @lite992 18’s look way better in motion, especially that first picture. I’m curious if someone could photoshop 15″ wheels/tires from perhaps indycar or rough estimate from F1 cars into a side by side by side comparison.

  38. Anything to get the maximum amount of set-up control in the hands of the individual teams (shocks,springs, dampers), rather than in the hands of a “hunk of sidewall rubber” made by the tire manufacturer.

  39. I can see that these are drawing mixed views from the fans… personally I think they look awful

  40. I don´t think that it will be down to what we say here.
    Love it or hate it.

    I have mixed emotions, but in this pic I think it looks okay.
    It´s again just a matter of getting used to it.. We do not talk about the quiet engines as much as we did at the start of the season either..


    1. i think things should always be “wow thats amazing” from the first impression. Never “eh i got used to it”. To me thats not how visceral appeal works. F1 needs more visceral appeal.

  41. jochenrindt78
    9th July 2014, 15:17

    I think they look pretty rude! Will this have an impact on safety if the wheels are flying around? I know the 13″ are still deadly if you catch one in the face but surely a bigger rim would be more dangerous in that relatively common situation…if we were racing them at Silverstone would Max Chilton still be here?? Just a thought…

    1. he got hit by a tyre not the rim. the rim was still attached to the bodywork

      1. and with the tyre itself having less mass, it would be safer

        1. It’d still be heavy enough to be potentially lethal. Remember, Massa was almost killed by a 1lb spring.

          1. you’re right (anyway, i’ve said “safer” not “like throwing him with a ball of cotton candy” :D

  42. It looks ridiculous! Like a toy car.

  43. Formula Chav

  44. I don’t like to bring up the past every time we’re getting something new in F1 but… I just can’t help it this time

    However, if it’s going to make F1 a bit more road relevant then I’m all for it. Aesthetics should be F1s last concern right now.

    1. Edit: This was the link that I was supposed to post http://oi57.tinypic.com/ztafpk.jpg . I just don’t think larger rims are necessary in order to look good.

  45. Looks great, love it!

    This makes much more sense than stupid hibrid systems. Low profile tires actualy improve roadcars performance, unlike hybrid sistems that exist to save fuel, wich isn’t what F1 is all about, F1 is about going fast

    1. This makes much more sense than stupid hibrid systems

      Without which Renault would have pulled out, Honda wouldn’t be returning, and Merc would probably stop not long after.

      F1 is about going fast as efficiently as possible


      1. Honda is returning because they think they have a chance of winning with new formula, they pulled out before because they failed in last formula. Mercedes also only stayed because of new formula as it gave them a new opportunity – as before they too were failing. it is all about business, and that’s what bought about the new formula – not anything about efficiency.

  46. Wicked awesome! I love it!

  47. I like ’em.

  48. I like the size, though the rim choice reminds me of wagon wheels.

  49. Formula Gringo

  50. They may look nice, but the problem will be with pitstops. No way can you have 2.5-second pitstops with 18-inch tyres, they are too unwieldy for the mechanics to be able to carry out a quick changearound

    1. The total diameter of the wheel/tyre combo is only slightly larger than current. Plus one GT and LMP pit worker seems able to lug two 18″ rims around without difficulty, so three F1 crew should be able to manage fine.

  51. I like it.

    Everyone commenting about the brakes needs to realize that nothing was changed on the lotus except the wheels, there still running there brake package for the 13’s and therefore you see a lot of empty space.

  52. Quite like the look of this, preferable to the 2014 noses anyway!
    Can someone tell me what the difference of the old size versus the new is ? I know this is a proposed move from 13″ to 17″ however it is the tyre profile I’m curious to know. As some have mentioned the suspension is surely going to need to be redesigned to allow for these as the sidewall will be considerably stiffer.

  53. Mark McDonald
    9th July 2014, 18:37

    Wheels look good!

  54. Hideous.

  55. I don’t like it, whats next, spinning wheels or 22 inch wheels….

  56. So now that we have introduced something ugly, we need to improve the show. I know, half points for the first round.

  57. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    9th July 2014, 19:45

    TOO big. I said it when F1F had their Ferrari rendering up.

    They need to be 16″ or 17″ at most. They look very cartoonish at 18″. The sidewalls are all much shallower than ordinary road cars.

  58. It makes the car looks like it is way smaller, like a remote controlled car.

  59. Im not sure i like them just yet, probably still need to get used to them. But i do see the logic behind it. F1 should definitely introduce them in 2015 if you’d ask me.

  60. Hideous. Look like old wagon wheels from far away. Tire degradation will make them useless after 7 or 8 laps depending on tire compound. Let’s stick with what we know for these tires.

  61. Tried myself to create a 15” wheel in Photoshop. This is what I got:

    gold rims:
    grey rims:

  62. Awesome.
    The 13 inches, looks like my grandmothers wheels….
    Finally something that makes the cars look better.

    1. Very cool. For me the 15’s don’t look different enough. I’m all for the 18’s. Thanks for that.

  63. Quote – “The main advantage of the lower profile rubber, according to Pirelli, is that as it contains less air the pressure within it remains more consistent”

    Eh? PV = mRT applied last time I checked, ie it’s the temperature of the gas that determines the pressure, not the amount. I would have thought a smaller quantity of gas would be subject to greater temperature variation for a given change in loading and therefore greater pressure variation.

  64. Those 18 inch tyres are much better than the current ones but maybe a tad big.
    I wonder if FIA could make them 16 inches and that what most of the every day cars drive on anyway.

  65. Larger rims would make it easier and safer to return to the pits with a puncture.
    I’m guessing the larger rims and lower profile tyres would take less kindly to wheel-banging incidents, with the rims more likely to make contact with one another and less sidewall to absorb shock. Suspensions would surely be more vulnerable to damage in impacts.
    My opinion on the aesthetic side is that it looks 21st century. The current tyres look to me like they were stolen from a drag racing circuit. And that the wheels help compensate aesthetically for the ugliness of the noses and oddly proportioned wings.

  66. TERRRIBLE!! three things:
    1- for me the small wheel and chunky rubber ties F1 back to karting. To me its important to have a solid link to the beginning of the chain.
    2- im am really tired of all this “road relevance” talk. these are RACING prototypes. They should be the opposite of road relevant. Its a sport. Sport is about visceral excitement. Bringing F1 down to a family sedan is the philosophical opposite.
    3- if the first impression isn’t “wow that looks amazingly cool”, then its not right. All this talk of “they look weird at first but then you get used to it” is nonsense. Trust the first impression. Don’t try to rationalize.

  67. the future of F1 hahaha


    sarcasm. (maybe not?)

  68. I’m surprised by the weight increase. I always thought less rubber meant less unsprung weight with the wheel being the lighter element.

    Oh well…

    But I must say – since when has F1 been about aesthetics? Who cares if they look better or worse. Will they provide better driveability and thus faster everything?

  69. in the motorcycle world, it seems to have gone opposite to cars – previously bikes in the 80s often were using 19inch tyres (for front mostly), where as now most bikes use 17 inch.
    this test by Pirelli – to me it is a bit like motogp trying 22inch tyres. its just not needed.
    18inch tyres on a 5 meter long, 1800kg car is one thing, but on a 3m long, 600kg, and not very tall open wheeler is just bizarre. it is not right to copy road car trends, f1 cars are not road cars.

  70. I cannot unsee this, now the old tires just look sooo archaic too me, like something from the 50’s

  71. If it is introduced in F1 fia has to plan ahead just like the engine because of suspension problems that will automatically appear, and by the way they look ugly

  72. I don’t understand what everyone is moaning about. I’ve followed F1 for years, and I think this is a great change as it bring the F1 technology into line with road cars, which is key to making the developments relevant. To add to that, I think they look great as well. People complaint about how they look – have you seen the Caterham nose? Surely far more worthy of complaint (still!)

Comments are closed.