F1 got a glimpse into the future on Tuesday, when Pirelli released images of its low-profile, 18-inch concept tyre.
For years, the sport has stuck with what Williams’ Pat Symonds recently described as “rather old-fashioned” 13-inch tyres, while rival categories like Le Mans and even Formula E race into the future with more modern profiles.
But on Wednesday at the Silverstone test, Lotus test driver Charles Pic will be in charge of a prototype Pirelli 18-inch tyre.
On Tuesday, F1’s official tyre supplier revealed a computer-generated glimpse of what it looks like.
Earlier in 2014, Symonds said 18-inch tyres could be a way for F1 to push ahead with a ban on expensive tyre warmers.
“If we had a lower profile tyre with a stiffer sidewall and a lower-volume air cavity,” he said, “it would certainly be much easier to manage.”
But Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said this week’s 18-inch prototype test is more about simply showing fans what a modern tyre looks like on a formula one car.
“It’s not in the regulations,” he warned. “It’s not going to happen for two or three years, so it’s part of enabling people to understand what it would do for the look of the car.
“We will have to make some minor changes to the car to enable us to do it, but we thought it would be a worthwhile exercise, because everybody has talked about it but it’s not something anyone has seen,” Hembery added.