Formula 2 will switch to 18-inch wheels in the 2020 season in order to provide development for Pirelli ahead of a similar change in Formula 1.
The tender for F1’s next tire supplier from 2020-23 was won by Pirelli and states F1 will switch to 18-inch wheels from 2021 onward. With the Italian manufacturer also supplying F2, it has now been decided that the feeder series will change wheel sizes next year, with the president of the FIA’s single seater commission, Stefano Domenicali, stating it will prepare drivers better as well as improve tire technology in F1.
“The FIA Formula 2 Championship marks the final step in young drivers’ careers as they strive to achieve a place in Formula 1, and with these plans to introduce, test and develop a new tire profile next season ahead of its introduction into F1, we are showing that Formula 2 is not only the place to prove the top driving talent, but also the latest technologies,” Domenicali said.
“Former F2 drivers have been very impressive so far in the 2019 F1 season, and the more we can make Formula 2 aligned with the technical and sporting philosophies of Formula 1 the better prepared young drivers will be to come and take on motorsport’s top challenge.”
F1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds says the ability to race with the new tires in F2 will complement Pirelli’s own testing schedule ahead of F1’s 2021 rule changes.
“The FIA Formula 2 Championship has already proven to be the best possible feeder series for young rising talents who aspire to succeed in Formula 1 and now it’s going to used as a feeder for technology,” Symonds said. “It’s a great opportunity for our sport that the tire development for 2021 can be done not only during bespoke testing but also in a racing environment. The amount of data that Pirelli and Formula 2 will be able to collect in the next 16 months will be very important for the next generation of Formula 1 tires.”
With last year’s top three in Formula 2 — George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon — all stepping up to F1 this season, Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola says the change will also help ensure young drivers are as prepared as possible for future regulations.
“We are delighted to introduce 18-inch tires to grand prix weekends next season, a full year before they race in Formula 1, as the next chapter of our pioneering and proactive partnership with Formula 2,” Isola said. “This move will assist us greatly as we develop a new generation of Formula 1 tires for 2021, and also benefit next year’s Formula 2 drivers themselves as they gain early experience of the future tire size in Formula 1.”