In the first few decades of F1, the rule book was ridiculously simple allowing a huge amount of freedom over design. In the 1980’s it was decided to regulate the wheels be fixed at 13 inches. At the time this was the size of a lot of ordinary road cars and was thought to be therefore relevant.
By limiting wheel size, this prevented the teams from fitting ever bigger brakes to the car – and of course when they failed and ever bigger crash.
Yet agendas have changed. Now F1 is very safe, suddenly the spotlight has moved to improving overtaking. So larger wheel sizes provide for shorter braking distances and theoretically more overtakes per race.
Pirelli recorded 36 physical test days for the new tyre, though there have been 70 vitual prototypes, 30 of which have been physically tested on track. A total of 4,267 laps have been driven at 10 different tracks, amounting to 20,000km of driving.
Whilst Pirelli have gone about facilitating this change in a professional and thorough manner, the drivers are reporting they are still struggling with extreme tyre wear when they run close behind another car.
Max Verstappen commented after his clean sweep in Imola, “When we get close [to another car] you burn your tyres a bit more than you would like and they overheat a bit more.
But we consistently work with Pirelli anyway about what we would like and what we would like to improve. So it’s also very hard for them because it’s a completely new concept. We haven’t really done a lot of testing, so I’m sure now in the coming months or maybe for next year, we can improve things.”
It’s clear the tyres are a work in Progress for Pirelli, yet the view from the grandstands is the cars appear to be able to follow closer for longer than in their previous 13 inch iteration.
The tyres are now locked in for this season, so lets see how they develop for 2023.