George Russell, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2020

Russell completes 18-inch wheel test for Mercedes at Yas Marina

2021 F1 season

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Mercedes became the latest team to test Pirelli’s 18-inch tyres at Yas Marina today.

Test driver George Russell, who lapped quickest for the team in last week’s two-day test, covered 100 laps at the home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He drove a W10 fitted with 18-inch wheels and Pirelli’s development tyres.

The new 18-inch wheels will be used for the first time in the 2021 F1 season.

While F1 will continue to use 13-inch wheels next year, Formula 2 will switch to 18-inch rubber for 2020. Its teams completed their final, three-day test on 13-inch wheels last week.

Pirelli began tests of its new 18-inch Formula 1 tyres in September. Renault test driver Sergey Sirotkin tested them at the Paul Ricard circuit.

Meanwhile teams are due to decide tomorrow which tyres they want to use for the 2020 season. They are considering whether to continue using the same rubber as in 2019 following concerns over the new compounds Pirelli has developed for next year. Pirelli is keen to use its new tyres partly because they include technology changes which they hope to develop further for their 18-inch tyres.

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Picture: Pirelli via Twitter

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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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25 comments on “Russell completes 18-inch wheel test for Mercedes at Yas Marina”

  1. Heh, I can’t remember why I was so concerned about the appearance of 18″ wheels. They look pretty fine here. Dang it, do we have to wait until 2021 to see them in action?

    1. They will run wheelcovers so they look a lot better now than they will look in 2021. Most likely they will have stickers of wheels on the wheel covers.

    2. Because they look ugly even now?

    3. Yes, not too bad looking, but the FIA-mandated spinners weren’t part of this test.

      Disappointed FIA/Liberty didn’t have the courage to fulfill America’s longing for open wheel lowrider racing. That’s the kind of active suspension that even a casual fan could see in action.


  2. I have to admit, with black rims, that looks properly good!

  3. I wonder how fragile these wheels will be with less tyres for shock absorption

    1. Not sure why they’d be fragile at all. I’m sure they know how to build them plenty strong enough. WEC etc has it figured out.

    2. Rather it might mean teams will have to tune their suspension play a bit in reaction to the tyres having less scope for deforming @paeschli.
      But once they figure it out, it should be a more stable platform for downforce, because tyres have shown time and again to be quite fickle to model their behaviours accurately.

  4. They must have softened up the suspension on that Mercedes to the max for the test, to get anywhere close to useful data and feedback.

    1. Yeah, I am sure this test with the current car could only be done at a place like Abu Dhabi where the track is smooth so that the current suspension can be setup soft enough to even out the car to be able to do a solid amount of running @robbie

      I’d think that in a place like Silverstone, or say Brazil, or worse CotA, the current suspension would struggle to cope!

  5. Ooh that looks nice.

    I do hope teams are able to play around with the colour of the wheels though.. black is still nice but barely visible.

    Maybe red wheels for Ferrari, yellow for Renault, white, blue, turquoise…

    Even if just for one off races. Although I can understand that may be negative for performance, either with extra weight or dissipating heat/tyre management…

    Didnt the 90’s touring cars have different coloured wheels?

    1. To tell you the truth, I always loved the red/gold combo wheels of Ferrari.

      But since the rims will be covered we need to wait out to see how the teams will play out… but I suspect somethjng jn the ljne of 2009 onward… boring stuff you know?

  6. I wonder why Ferrari opted out of creating a mule car for testing 18 inch wheels.

    McLaren and Renault will hardly be a threat ever, but Mercedes gaining such an early knowledge…

    Or maybe they plan to veto these stupid wheels?
    That will be awesome!

  7. Why build a mule care when you only get to test for 200 laps or so.? Not worth the effort (or cost).
    The suspension, brakes, aero and frivolous body-work will all be different to what you would be permitted to run in testing now.
    I also suspect that Pirelli has terms in place that all the data is made available to all the teams. If Ferrari, Merc or who-ever, were to collect data that other teams couldn’t access (and yes, we know it has likely happened) there would be cries of foul. Did I hear something..??

    1. Yeah, Pirelli is the one with access to the data, and they guarantee that all the data will be shared equally with all teams.

      1. @bascb The teams can gather more data when it’s their own car.

        Well the teams are mounting infrared camera’s on their cars to keep an eye on the tyre temps. Mercedes did that last season already and now most teams have it.

        1. Just look up the agreement about which teams would provide cars @fiosaurus. It was agreed that the team is explicitly NOT allowed to have any sensors that gather data to keep for themselves, all (relevant, i.e. I am sure Mercedes keep tabs of things like engine temperature etc) sensors are ran by Pirelli and all data gathered during the test are Pirelli’s to analyse and share.

          1. @bascb

            all (relevant, i.e. I am sure Mercedes keep tabs of things like engine temperature etc)

            There you go already. Extra data which will not be shared, btu which might be beneifcial for Mercedes to have.

            There are hundreds of sensors on an F1 car. I seriously doubt Mercedes will be sharing intimate knowledge of their car downforce level sensors and such either.

            Or are you saying not even Mercedes willl be allowed to see their own data?

          2. I am not completely sure, but I am sure that the agreement over tyre testing did in fact cover the operating team doing so without being able to register data for later use (but you surely have checked that right).

            So while they would be obviously monitoring engine data to make sure the car is running fine, it is fairly certain that they would not be able to keep for themselves any relevant data, and might either not be allowed to store any such data at all, or have to share it with others.

    2. To reverse engineer the data from the track and apply that to your new car model obviously. The mule cars would have been “calibrated” in the wind tunnel and CFD to enable this reverse engineering from track data.

  8. I imagine going over bumps like at CoTA are going to hurt even worse now

    1. Why? With 13-inch wheels about 60% of the suspension movement is in the flex of the tire. So basically a non-dampened air spring bouncing around as it will. With 18-inch wheels the majority of the suspension compliance will be fully in the hands of the teams – with dampers, progressive rates and a lot of other clever engineering (even though some hydraulic elements will be banned). I reckon that will actually be a smoother ride over bumpy surfaces.

  9. Prefer the look of rhevthirteens. The eighteen makes the cars look too small. Thirteens seem more aggressive. Big gumballs for wheels.

    1. Cars are largest in history of F1.

      What do you mean they look too small?

      Cars need to loose 80-100cm in length and get 18 inch rims on.

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