Pirelli 18 inch GP2 tyre, Monaco, Monte-Carlo, 2015

Teams oppose switch from 13 to 18-inch wheels

2015 F1 season

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Pirelli 18 inch GP2 tyre, Monaco, Monte-Carlo, 2015Formula One teams do no want to change wheel diameters from 13 inches to 18, despite current tyre supplier Pirelli and rivals Michelin showing interest in such a move.

Pirelli ran a GP2 car fitted with 18-inch wheels at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix, while Michelin showed off a similar solution for a Formula Renault 3.5 car. Last year Pirelli tested 18-inch wheels on a Lotus driven by Charles Pic.

However speaking in today’s FIA press conference Ferrari technical director James Allison said: “The rim diameter’s going to stay where it is.”

“But the width of the tyre is probably still up for grabs. We’re discussing what that ought to be along with all the other aspects of the rules for around that time.”

Most of the teams prefer to stick with F1’s current 13-inch wheel diameters, according to Mercedes’ executive director for technical Paddy Lowe.

“The subject of bigger wheels has been raised many times over the last five or eight years,” he said. “But I think the broad consensus is that going to bigger wheels is not a good direction.”

Charles Pic, Lotus, Silverstone test, 2014“Certainly from a grip point of view it’s not positive, like-for-like such tyres 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.”

However McLaren engineering director Matt Morris said they would welcome a change. “It’s not just the tyre size, it’s all the other parts that change with that, all the brake internals and what have you,” he explained.

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

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  • 43 comments on “Teams oppose switch from 13 to 18-inch wheels”

    1. GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Thank you, F1 teams ! It was a ridiculous proposition, so I’m glad they are not changing something that works well for something that’s not better (and could even be worse) and needs a helluva lot of changes and recalculations to work.

      1. F1 is supposed to be the technical forefront, standing still forever surely can’t be the right thing.
        I don’t think it was a ridiculous proposition, especially compared to several others we’ve had in recent history- can’t really judge how good or bad the idea was unless they actually did it

        1. Well, F1 once had huge rims, but they didn’t stay still. They IMPROVED and got the 13 inch wheels they have today.

          Because they are BETTER.

          The end.

        2. If we were talking about soemthing that today isn’t the BEST THING AVAILABLE for the cars we have, sure, you’ve got a point.

          But 18 inches wheels are hardly the best we can get. Coincidentally, the “good old 13s” are much better.

          1. I must say that I am not at all convinced of that @fer-no65.

            I understand from Michelin, and I guess the same would go for Pirelli, that they can use far more of what they have learned from tyre development (for road cars, for performance cars, as well as racing tyres for WEC and sports cars) as well as use F1 to improve on that.

            This means that with the large tyres, there is far more knowledge to base improvements on, as well as far more incentive for the tyre manufacturers to do so, giving us potentially vastly superior tyres to what we have now (just as WEC tyres are currently a lot better than F1 tyres).

            For F1 the biggest issue is the risk and cost involved in having to completely overhaul the suspension as well as all the aero changes that come with this change.

    2. So F1 continues to live in the past with 13″ tyres that have zero relevance to anything.

      Meanwhile other categories will move forward with larger tyres that offer far more performance than crappy 13″ noddy tyres.

      1. Electric motors are the way of the future too……

        So are driverless cars.

      2. Certainly from a grip point of view it’s not positive, like-for-like such tyres will have a lower grip and the weight will go up considerably. So it’s not an attractive direction performance-wise.

        I think I’ll take Paddy Lowe’s opinion over yours.

        1. Paddy has the best car in the sport…. Any idiot knows he won’t change anything. Probably why Alison, don’t welcome the change, either…
          McLaren is in another situation, they like it….
          IMO the 18″ looks good.

    3. I gather that WSBR will be moving to 18″ tyres in the next 2 years because they have been finding big performance gains in the early testing.

      Tyre suppliers want larger tyres going forward because they see them as not only more relevant from a commercial POV but also because having multiple categories on the same size tyres allows more data sharing & cut’s costs because they can share tyre molds & some other stuff.

      There is also a performance benefit, The early WSBR 18″ test’s have seen a 1 second performance gain & all the WEC teams opt for 18″ again because there are performance benefits.

      1. @gt-racer, in the case of the WSBR cars, I would not rule out the possibility that Michelin is using its position as the sole nominated tyre supplier and as one of the primary sponsors of that series in order to promote 18 inch tyres.

        Given that Michelin have a substantial interest in pushing larger diameter tyres to the public – because they can sell those tyres at a premium and therefore generate higher profit margins – it is in their interests to push the WSBR towards larger diameter tyres. We do not know what modifications that Michelin have made to their prototype 18 inch tyres that may have had a larger influence on performance than the size alone, so to ascribe the gains solely to the switch to 18 inch tyres is a bit questionable – Michelin cannot afford for the larger tyres to offer worse performance in that scenario.

        As for the WEC, the current structure of the regulations offers incentives for teams to run large diameter, low profile tyres. Under the ACO’s current regulations, the teams can use brake disks that are up to 15 inches in diameter – now, it is pretty obvious that teams will want to run with the maximum brake disks they can get away with, so that automatically pushes teams towards a 15 inch disk. That creates a strong incentive for teams to maximise the size of the wheel rim, so it is perhaps not surprising that most of them opt for the maximum permitted wheel rim size (18 inches) in order to maximise the size of the brake disks and to optimise the airflow through the braking system.

        Now that teams can use hybrid energy recovery systems, though, the calculus is beginning to change. Because Nissan originally planned to run in the 8MJ class and to rely heavily on their energy recovery systems to recover energy during the braking phase, Nissan’s LMP1 car was originally designed around relatively high profile wheels with 16 inch rims as they actually wanted slightly more compliance in the tyres.

        As it is, because Nissan can only run in the 2MJ category and are therefore relying more heavily on the mechanical braking system, they have had to increase the size of the front brake disks and therefore have had to change to an 18 inch rim at the front.

        However, they are persisting with 16 inch rims and higher profile tyres at the rear of the car – so it is not automatically the case that a larger tyre is always a more optimal solution.

      2. Exactly. The manufacturers have vast knowledge gathered from thousands of cars using large rims

    4. That McLaren quote is hilarious given how the switch to Honda has gone, and I’m a McLaren fan. Let’s just stick with the current size and fix the teams existing problems before we ask for new ones.

    5. Do they cost twice as much, make more noise and do your back in, like the road tyres?
      How about 15s as a compromise?

      1. A compromise of what? Performance against what?

        Because 18 inch rims are:
        – uglier (because an F1 car is open-wheeled and the 18 inchers make them look like 1950s F1 cars)
        – more expensive
        – heavier
        – more dangerous (because they are unsprung weight, and think of one of those hitting a spectator or a marshal…)

        There’s no compromise. It’s just F1, once again, trying to cater to the whims of non-fans.

        Fruck them all I say.

        1. You forgot the part where they offer more performance.

          I’d also disagree on your 1st point, I think they look better than the 13″ rims F1 currently uses, I’ve always felt the 13″ rims looked really odd.

          Talking about 15 rims, Thats what Indycar has used for quite some time now & what I once read Bridgestone wanted to use in F1 after Michelin pulled out in order to use the same tyres across there Indycar & F1 programs.

          1. “Certainly from a grip point of view it’s not positive, like-for-like such tyres 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.”

            James Allison seems to think the 13″ are better performance wise.

            1. @mike Don’t know why he believes that as running actually done on 18″ tyres elsewhere shows there faster which is why other categories are going in that direction.

              Michelin put a set of 18″ rims on a world series by renault car & the car went a second faster with no other changes been made.

          2. 18 inch wheels would result in f1 going even slower. other series use them for other reasons. indycar would be nearly as quick as f1 is now if they had 13 inch.

    6. HOORAY :) :)

      The average race track is a lot smoother than the average road. Beyond vanity, motorists do not need low-profile tyres … they are not racing at the Nurburgring … they are driving to work, negotiating potholes and other defects.

      F1 doesn’t need to follow road cars to be relevant – it should be the other way round! Modern road cars are ugly enough … concave shapes galore, bulbous noses to cushion pedestrians in the event of an accident, and awkward angles, all leading to ungainly shapes that are far from aesthetic. Modern cars have MASSIVE wheels, and low-profile tyres that are useless on rough roads. Tyres are more important than the rims …. no matter how shiny they are ;-)

      Here’s to the future on 13″ !!!

      1. @downwithdrs But what benefits do 13″ tyres offer?

        They handicap suspension designs & setups (As 95% of the suspension travel comes from the tyre sidewall), Suffer larger swings in tyre pressures, Take longer to get upto temperature (Which is the only reason they are not banning tyre warmers) & offer less performance than the larger tyres.

        Michelin/Renault recently conducted a test in a WSBR 3.5 car & found that 18″ tyres were 1 second faster than the current 13″ tyres & that series is planning to move to 18″ tyres in the next few years as a result of that. WEC also found performance gains from 18″ tyres which is why all the LMP teams run them now.

        If F1 wants to be about performance then surely moving to 18″ tyres is the way to go because there clearly offering more performance than the outdated 13″ tyres.

        F1 is going to look utterly stupid in a few years when there the only series running such outdated & stupidly small looking low performance tyres.

        1. Did you read the article?

          “Certainly from a grip point of view it’s not positive, like-for-like such tyres 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.”

          People that know far more than you say the 13s have more grip.

        2. I guess Paddy Lowe needs to redo his homework then, because he clearly disagrees with you on the performance aspect.

          1. @mads And i’m unsure why because actual testing done on 18″ rims shows a clear performance gain as I said with the renault world series test.

            http://www.worldseriesbyrenault.com/Renault-Sport-Technologies-and-Michelin-evaluating-17-and-18-inch-tyres.html

            1. PeterG, you seem to be the sole person here supportign them entirely, why?? they were tried on f1 cars, and were slow and it was determined years of development would be needed on chassis and suspension among other things just to get the tyres to be as quick as the current 13 inch. you have chosen an example by Michelin, who are running 18s in Formula E, and have their own agenda. f1 does not need PRAM-WHEELS ok.

    7. McLaren should not wish for change it would take them 2 years to get the brakes up to everyone else’s standards. Probably thinking what’s the worse that can happen as things are so bad for them now it could only get better.

    8. Sad for me, because I think they look seriously cool. But I understand the teams’ concern. It’s not a matter of not moving forward, it’s a matter of costs. Redesigning the whole suspension geometry is not easy. It’s the thing about F1 cars, change something as silly as the rims/tyre diameter and the car goes to heck.
      Still hoping for wider cars and tyres, though the current formula looks good and performs good.

      1. The 1950 Alfa Romeo F1 car had 17 inch rims.
        I’m pretty sure the Mercedes had 18 inch rims, and I think the Ferrari had 16 inch rims.

        It’s not moving forward, it’s moving backwards.

        1. If going to larger tyres is going backwards then what is sticking with outdated & slower 13″?

          The 13″ tyres are outdated now, Nobody uses them outside of cheap road cars that are in no way made for performance.

          The renault world series is moving to 17 or 18″, The wec has already gone to 18″ as has the DTM, Indycar runs 15″ & GP2 has also been testing 18″.

          Pretty much every other racing category out there is moving to larger tyres, You have to ask yourself why…. Are they all going backwards or are they perhaps doing it because larger tyres are the future of the industry?

          By sticking with 13″ rims F1 is not moving forward, Its remaining in the past.

          1. Larger rims, not tyres

    9. Well, 1600cc-engine powered cars on 13-inch wheels sure is the pinnacle of automotive technology.

    10. Quinn (@quinnolabar)
      6th June 2015, 1:19

      Sure 18″ wheels are a bit much and this is the right decision, but what about 15″ or 16″? 13″ wheels have always looked odd to me and don’t really carry much road relevance so why not bump it up a few inches without going all the way up to 18? F1, the pinnacle of racing technology, surely can’t keep using the same wheel size forever, especially since road cars haven’t used 13 inch wheels in decades.

    11. Corrado (@)
      6th June 2015, 5:20

      Thank God…

    12. The biggest drawback from opposing the switch to bigger rims is that this in fact means Michelin won’t make a bid to become F1’s tyre supplier which is a pity. I still genuinely believe they could do a better job than Pirelli even with the built-to-degrade principle in place.

    13. I can’t get my head around low-profile tyres giving less grip. What’s different from road cars? Why don’t shorter sidewalls that are stiffer against lateral loads give a more stable and consistent contact patch?

      1. @lockup They don’t offer less grip, There faster which is why just about every other category are going to larger tyres.

        Michelin did a test on world series by renault cars & they went a second faster-
        http://www.worldseriesbyrenault.com/Renault-Sport-Technologies-and-Michelin-evaluating-17-and-18-inch-tyres.html

        1. Ah thanks for the link @PeterG. Makes perfect sense to me. I guess the mystery then is why Paddy Lowe is saying

          Certainly from a grip point of view it’s not positive, like-for-like such tyres will have a lower grip

    14. Alex McFarlane
      6th June 2015, 10:41

      15″ would be the best compromise I think.

      Funny how the teams all whine about the costs, but the Dallara Indycar chassis with it’s 15″ rims costs peanuts compared to an F1 chassis and provides vastly superior racing across a number of different types of circuit, and with this years aero kits (particularly Chevrolet’s), looks better than any F1 car of the last decade.

    15. Why not 15 or 16 inch? 18 is to much and 13 is old school.

    16. Lower sidewalls offer less grip in corners. Just watch slow motion of F1 car cornering and you’ll see how the tyres deform and then throw the car back into the apex.
      Also see how 13″ wheels attack the curbs and absorb the vibrations etc. – now imagine 18″ tyre hitting the curb that hard – this will send the car sideways spinning.
      Higher sidewalls expand a bit during acceleration and on straights which adds the speed.
      And one if not most important case here – you just won’t be able to make the extrreme negative camber angles with bigger rims – the tyre is loaded in a corner, and the effect of the load is to push the tyre “over”, it means that the full width of the tyre is flat on the tarmac giving the maximum grip, for the minimum wear on the tyre.
      So in case with 18″ tyres you have to redesign suspension completely, you have to lower the corner speeds, have to avoid curbs and you can’t fine tune the tyre performance on different tracks with pressure ab=nd camber angles.

    17. going bigger is not the answer. in road cars big wheels come across as “cool” but not better in any way – and F1 should not be road car relevant. motorcyles have actually gone down in size for performance. in the 80s a lot of bikes had 19 inch front wheels, then all the sports bikes moved back to 17 inch.

    18. You are all talking about performance, but it is irrelevant at this point in time.
      If formula 1 would seriously consider changing to bigger tires, it would be a main thing, and all the teams would talk about it.
      Right now what we got is gossip at best, and very bad gossip if I may.

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