VIDEO: Pirelli begin 18 inch tyre testing in France

Pirelli have offered up the first look at contemporary F1 machinery running the bigger 18 inch wheels and tyres, with Renault testing in France.

Pirelli have begun initial testing of the new specification 18 inch tyres that will be introduced to Formula 1 in 2021.

With Formula 1 set to introduce larger wheels and tyres in 2021, this is a major switch away from the current small 13 inch diameter wheels and the first such change in three decades.

Obviously, this presents a huge change in design affecting areas such as suspension, aerodynamics and brakes. Speaking to FormulaSpy, Pirelli boss Mario Isola outlined the technical challenges behind the switch to 18 inch tyres – these changes can be read here.

Renault were amongst the volunteers to Pirelli to begin the initial testing this year, and they get the first taste of the 18 inch tyres. Sergey Sirotkin will drive a mule car at Paul Ricard for two days this week, with McLaren carrying out a similar test in November. Mercedes will then do a test in December.

“We are ready and Pirelli start with a baseline, obviously.” said Isola over last weekend in Monza. “The test will be more on construction. That is what happens usually, when you have a new size, a new challenge. I have not a clear idea what to expect. We started already the F2 tests with 18-inches. That is going quite well, so hopefully we have the same result with Formula 1. It’s obviously more… I don’t want to call it a ‘shakedown’, because we are going to test for two days and we have a programme that is quite big. We want to test different solutions to have a better idea. We have these three sessions to understand and assess the baseline for next year and then, obviously, we will have a full year of development next year to finalise. The challenge is big, as I’ve said many times, and happy and excited to start very soon.”

Isola said that all these tests are planned by Pirelli as “All dry sessions for the moment. We will start soon to make a plan for 2020, where we have 25 days of testing to distribute to the teams that are willing to test 18-inch tyres.”

Alongside the initial F1 tests, Pirelli will be conducting testing with Formula 2, as they will introduce the new wheels next season in preparation for Formula 1’s switch.

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Thomas Maher

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