TOWCESTER, England (July 7, 2014) — The Formula 1 racing community will get a preview this week of what the future of the sport might look like in a few years when Lotus F1 Team will test 18-inch rim diameter tires that supplier Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. is proposing.
The change is a drastic one — moving from the current 13-inch configuration — but one Pirelli claims would lead to increased technology transfer between Formula 1 racing and road-going tires.
Pirelli claims moving to an 18-inch tire would provide performance advantages such as increased rigidity through less sidewall flexibility—although this could have an effect on car design since sidewall flexing plays an important part of the current Formula 1 car's suspension and damping.
Pirelli calls the 13-inch configuration — a size that's been standard for the past few decades — “no longer relevant” in the general marketplace, where the standard OE fitment is edging steadily toward 18 inches.
From the tire maker's point of view, Pirelli said a smaller sidewall would lead to drastically reduced branding space and could present manufacturing challenges.