Pirelli 18-inch tyres on a Formula 2 car, Monza, 2019

Alesi demonstrates Pirelli’s 18-inch F2 tyres at Monza

Formula 2

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Pirelli gave fans at Monza a preview of the 18-inch tyres which will be used in Formula 2 next year, and Formula 1 from 2021.

Former Ferrari driver and F1 race winner Jean Alesi lapped the circuit in an F2 car fitted with a development set of Pirelli’s 18-inch tyres, running on OZ Racing 18-inch wheels. Pirelli also presented an examples of its 18-inch F1 tyres.

Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola said “the demonstration run with the new 18-inch tyres at Monza, courtesy of a legendary driver who will always be associated with this track, provided a fascinating glimpse of a future that will be with us before we know it.

“The links between Formula 2 and Formula 1 have never been closer, symbolised by this latest demonstration and display at our home circuit. Now we look forward to track testing some 18-inch Formula 1 prototypes for the first time next week in France.”

Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn, FIA Single Seater Commission President Stefano Domenicali and Formula 2 CEO Bruno Michel attended the presentation

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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...

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11 comments on “Alesi demonstrates Pirelli’s 18-inch F2 tyres at Monza”

  1. I have huge respect for Jean… but Jean? Because F2 lacks any promising stars?..

    I am not a fan of 18-inch wheel, but they don’t look THAT bad, so in the end… nice to see what’s coming.

  2. I’m not a fan of these 18 inch wheels.
    In my opinion they look absolutely horrible, and the only reason for their introduction is purely marketing.

  3. I’m not a fan of these 18 inch wheels.
    In my opinion they look absolutely horrible, and the only reason for their introduction is purely marketing.

  4. I already don’t notice them. Even quicker than the halo and the wide front wings.

  5. On an F2 car? They should’ve got Alonso to demonstrate it :)

    1. Hi @Phylyp yes, he was contacted but he declined. He would have accepted only to test a new engine, japanese preferably 😝

  6. F1 slowly losing itself.

  7. I think they look great but will be even better on F1 cars. Still seem more balloony than the rubber bands we see on so many of the (particularly high end) sports and super cars let alone performance sedans. Looking forward to the new look, not that I was bothered one iota with the old.

  8. Anyone know the tyre size in standard tyre sizing?

    I thought the introduction of the 18″ was because the 18″ wheel is the most common in consumer vehicles, yet I imagine the profile and width would not be anything close to what the standard sedan or SUV would use.

    1. @travis, 18″ is not actually the most common size for consumer vehicles by a long way – 14″ to 16″ tyres are far more common (in the UK, for example, I believe that the most common type of tyre is a 205/55/16).

      To be honest, quite a few designers have admitted that aesthetics is a big driver for having bigger rims, partially because it plays into a “sporty” image and partially due to the fact that, with the general growth in the size of cars, they have chosen to fit larger wheels because, if they didn’t, the wheels would look undersized compared to the car.

  9. There are practical reasons to go with larger wheels, and specifically 18″ wheels. Shorter sidewalls provide better handling because there is less deformation in the form of roll over and they can handle more lateral load. That’s the size I run on my track car, and it’s also a really common size in GT and sports car series. There is a reason the vast majority of track wheels out there are 18″. However, there is a diminishing return the larger the wheel gets. The greater size of the wheel, the more it weighs and the farther the tire weight is from the center. That robs some of the power for acceleration because the farther the weight is from the center and the heavier the wheel itself is, the more energy it takes to rotate it. So, as with everything else in race car performance, there is a compromise that must be made. Here is what Turner Motorsports says about it on their wheel fitment guide:

    “In the grand scheme of things wheel diameter doesn’t make much of a difference as long as the revolutions per mile are the same, and in many cases running a smaller diameter wheel with a taller sidewall is desirable on track cars as long as they clear the brakes due to lower unsprung rotating mass and cost and availability of tires. The further away from the center of the wheel the weight is, the more difficult it is to speed it up or slow it down, and the heavier the wheel becomes. In most cases, a 18″ diameter wheel is the theoretical ideal for the balance of weight and tire performance. There is an increase in the cornering performance of the tire by going to a shorter sidewall, but there comes a point where the extra weight and further outboard location of the weight offsets the benefit of the shorter sidewall.” https://www.turnermotorsport.com/t-wheel_guide

    I realize F1 tires are an entirely different league of tire, but the fundamental principles are the same.

    The reason F1 wheels are so small right now is that long ago, the FIA used this as a way to limit brake performance. But now, brake technology is so good that it easily overwhelms the grip of the tire on the track. F1 engineers wouldn’t need to make the brakes larger to slow the car faster, because the tire grip is already the limiting factor. They might make them bigger for better heat dissipation, but they also don’t want to increase their weight, especially because it is unsprung weight. And in any case, the FIA can mandate rotor sizes, pad surface area, and pressure just like they do with everything else. It’s also one of the parts of the car they have been discussing making a standardized part for cost reduction (I’m not personally in favor of that).

    Shorter sidewalls also do not overheat the carcass as easily because there is less deformation. No doubt you’ve seen how much vibration goes through those tires in the super slow motion shots of the wheels going over the kerbs, and you can see how much they deform. It’s one of the reasons Pirelli is constantly monitoring pressures that the teams would prefer were lower. Yes, in a way, the increased deflection increases grip because the tire bites into the pavement better because the tire sits flatter with the sidewall becoming part of the contact patch. But there is a limit to this because it also overheats them faster, causes more stress on the tires, and wears on parts of the tire that shouldn’t be in contact with the ground. This is why drag strip tires have such tall sidewalls and low inflation pressures, but they also don’t have to worry about lateral grip or tires overheating due to the short duration of a pass.

    Springs and dampers can be tuned with a great deal of accuracy to absorb the bumps and curbs while maintaining optimal contact patches with the track surface, making the handling more precise. The window of adjustment with the balloon tires is far more limited because they are required to run a minimum starting pressure dictated by the FIA and Pirelli for safety reasons, but there is so much deflection that they can’t add or subtract much more from the springs and dampers.

    Most importantly, the better handling will be necessary, because F1 is moving to cars with much less down force from the top of the car, and the increased bottom side down force will not be enough to compensate. For the lap times to remain or improve from where they are now, the cars will need more mechanical grip to help compensate. Remember when everyone complained at how the turbo era cars were slower and some people lamented they might never break the all time records? Eventually the tech improved to the point that they are now faster than ever, but I doubt FOM wants to repeat that phenomenon in addition to all the other drama that will inevitably come with the rule changes.

    Remember also that there won’t be tire warmers in 2021. The shorter sidewall tires and more tunable suspension should also make it easier for teams to generate proper tire temperatures, and pressures will be less of an issue.

    I know some people have mooted another tire war as a way to spice things up, but it really doesn’t work so well when you go back and look at what actually happened. Tires are the best common denominator to implement among all teams because they make the car’s interface with the pavement standardized. Right now, the tires are so variable and fickle that regardless of how well the team does with building the car, the unpredictable nature of the tires means they are often left scratching their heads. This head scratching is where a hell of a lot of the development money in F1 is going, and another of the goals of FOM is to make the racing closer between all teams by reducing the ridiculous costs. A lot of that talk about “going the wrong direction” on aero is the teams trying to deal with unpredictable tires, and the smaller teams can never hope to spend enough to get a proper handle on all the variation like the big teams can. You hear people say “The tires blah blah blah, but it’s the same for everyone.” but it isn’t the same for everyone, because some teams can spend 3 or 4 times the amount of other teams. Random and unpredictable does not automatically equate to more exciting. If that were the case, why have qualifying at all? Just pull their names out of a hat and hold two races.

    The problem with having so much variability and fickleness in the part of the car that is supposed to be the common denominator element is that it makes it more difficult to compare the car’s quality and the driver’s skill. Maybe some people like that, but I want to watch teams build the best car they can for tires they can understand, and watch drivers extract the maximum from their cars to race each other on a level playing field (which is the tires!) without the tires being such a crap shoot to get right. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sick of hearing about how weird the tires are behaving every single race weekend.

    * Disclaimer: I’m neither a tire or wheel expert, just a well rounded geek who goes down deep rabbit holes trying to understand the things that I love.

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