Pirelli introduces the new 18-inch Pirelli tires for Formula 1 cars.
Adding five inches to the diameter that has held sway in grand prix racing since the 1960s, the new announcement is one of the most relevant features of Formula 1 in 2022.
With a bigger emphasis on technological proximity to the road car product as well as aesthetics, the brand new P Zero F1 tire has the same tread width as before (305 millimetres at the front and 405 millimetres at the rear) but a slightly bigger overall diameter, which grows from 660 millimetres to 720 millimetres. The most significant change is a reduction in the sidewall, which now resembles that of the low-profile Pirelli tires that for years have been the preferred choice of the world’s leading performance road cars.
This new profile will change the behaviour of the Formula 1 cars on track, making them more precise when changing direction. From the tests carried out so far – in both dry and wet conditions – the drivers’ feedback has been positive and the new tires will contribute to even more competitive races, with cars that are less sensitive to aerodynamic turbulence while following behind one another. The lower sidewall also means that the tire will flex less, meaning that it will have less impact on the overall aerodynamics of the car. All of which should favour close racing.
The compounds for the 18-inch tires will also be completely new, to ensure maximum consistency and less overheating. Five compound grades will be available for the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship™, three of which will be chosen for each race weekend; just as is the case currently.
By going from 13-inch to 18-inch, Pirelli is the only tire manufacturer that has competed in Formula 1 with all the wheel sizes that have been part of the World Championship’s history. It’s a story that began in 1950, thanks to Pirelli’s first wins and titles with Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati: front-engined Formula 1 cars that ran on tall and narrow tires. As time went on, the sport moved onto 13-inch tires, before Pirelli embarked on its current era as the Global Tire Partner of Formula 1 in 2011. In 2017, Pirelli innovated by introducing tires that were 25% wider than they had been previously, providing a bigger footprint and more grip, which in turn resulted in lap records being lowered all over the world.