Tire-test background to Pirelli’s 2017 F1 contract

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It has been announced that Pirelli has reached a commercial agreement with Formula One Management to continue to supply race tires to Formula 1 in the 2017-19 seasons. Pirelli’s appointment should be ratified by the FIA World Council within the next couple of months.

The agreement comes despite Pirelli’s frustration with the currently limited opportunities to track-test new race tire compounds and constructions. Speaking recently to Tire Technology International, the company’s motorsport director, Paul Hembery said, “It’s a massive constraint and it stops us from being able to make very many changes. If the sport asks us to make a modification to what we currently do, the reality is we can’t actually do it!

Hembery added that a request for additional testing had been included in his company’s proposal for the 2017 contract, specifically because of the intended rear-tire width increase from 325mm to 425mm. “It’s such a substantial change that we’ve asked for a regulation change to allow us to do additional testing before the season starts. In general, there’s an acceptance that has to be the case but it’s [still]not ideal.”

A switch to bigger rims (F1 still runs 13in wheels currently) has been discussed and would depend on the teams’ agreement, not to mention considerably more track testing than is currently permitted. Pirelli has already demonstrated 18in rims and matching tires on a Lotus F1 car. No such switch has yet been confirmed, but a Pirelli spokesperson told TTI that it’s likely to happen, “in some shape or form”, for 2017.

For more on Pirelli’s F1 tire development program, read the article in the October 2015 issue of Tire Technology International

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