Pirelli says it is delighted to start work on 18-inch Formula 1 tires after completing two days of testing with the size that will be introduced in 2021.
The arrival of the increased size will coincide with new technical regulations, and follows Pirelli having secured the contract to be F1’s tire supplier until 2023. After Jean Alesi debuted the 18-inch tires on a Formula 2 car at Monza last weekend, Pirelli has been testing both its 2020 compounds and its first iteration of a 2021 tire at Paul Ricard this week, and the Italian company’s head of car racing Mario Isola says it has been a successful start.
“We were delighted to open up a brand new chapter at Paul Ricard, with the debut for our 18-inch tires – which will change the face of Formula 1 – taking place alongside our latest development test for next year’s 13-inch tires,” Isola said. “Renault provided a 2018 mule car for the 18-inch test, with Sergey Sirotkin driving to mark this historic moment.
“We completed our planned program as expected, covering 213 laps with the 18-inch tires over two days. This was very useful for us to take a first look at the new generation of tires and start shaping the development path that we will follow for the remainder of this year and next year.
“Of course, it is hard to read too much into this test as these are still very early days, but we have accumulated all the preliminary data that we wanted in good weather conditions, so thank you very much to Renault and to Sergey for their availability.
“With the 13-inch 2020 tires, we covered 212 laps over the two days thanks to Esteban Ocon and Mercedes. The work consisted of assessing a range of prototype slick tires, as we begin to finalize next year’s specification: the last season of 13-inch tires before we move on to 18 inches in 2021.”
As part of the switch, Formula 2 will use 18-inch tires from next season in order to provide additional data that could be relevant for the F1 tire development. At present, a tire warmer ban is proposed from 2021 onwards, but it remains an area of discussion as the publication of the technical regulations have been delayed until later this year.