Pirelli’s Mario Isola says that they intend to begin testing the new, bigger 18 inch tyres later this year, with an aim of initial testing going ahead by the end of September.
Formula 1 intends on changing from the current size 13 inch diameter tyres after next season, with a swap to much larger 18 inch tyres. There are numerous technical challenges involved in such a big change, meaning that Pirelli are already thinking ahead of how best to adjust to the changes.
“We’ll announce the test plan for 2020 soon – that’s the test plan in 2019 for next year.” said Isola at pre-season testing in Barcelona. “We have a target to run a concentrated test program for 2020 up until September of this year and then to finish the development for 2020 by that time. We would like to move onto the 18 inch tyre testing from the end of September onwards.”
“This will include discussions on the new cars to fit the bigger tyres and how to allocate the testing is ongoing with the FIA and the teams right now.”
Having signed an agreement to supply Formula 1 with tyres up until the end of 2023, Isola says it’s imperative that the intended technical regulation changes are nailed down pretty quickly to ensure that a plan can be put in place for the tyre size change: “We have an issue in that the 2021 technical regulations are not defined yet, that means that it is difficult for the teams to supply new cars if they don’t know the performance points that are expected for 2021 or how to build a car for the new regulations. What’s likely is that they’ll be the 2018 cars adapted or modified for the 18 inch tyres but this will include re-designing the suspension or re-designing the aero configurations to suit what will be expected in 2021. The most difficult point we are discussing is trying to get a supply of a new car that will represent the tyres.”
Asked why bother spending money on developing the current tyre sizes any further rather than settling on the current construction until the end of the current regulation cycle, Isola explained: “Even without technical regulation changes, the cars’ performance is changing. Last year we developed new ideas for construction and compounds that we would like to implement for 2020 and that’s why we want to run tyre testing session this year and not just keep the current tyres for two years.”