One of the key features of Formula 1 in 2022 is the new 18-inch Pirelli tires that will be fitted to the new cars unveiled today.
The size of the rim changes: five inches is added to the diameter that has been prevalent in Grand Prix racing since the 1960s; with compact, very wide tires including a “bulbous” sidewall, which has kept Formula 1 on the track for more than half a century.
Now is the time to switch to a more modern approach. With a greater emphasis on the technological proximity to the product for road vehicles and aesthetics, the brand new P Zero F1 tire has the same tread width as before (305 millimeters at the front and 405 millimeters at the rear), but a slightly larger overall diameter, from 660 millimeters to 720 millimeters has grown. The most significant change is a reduction in the size of the sidewall, which now resembles that of the Pirelli low profile tires, which have been the preferred choice of the world’s leading performance road vehicles for years. This new profile will change the behavior of Formula 1 cars on the track and make them more precise when changing direction. In the tests carried out so far – in both dry and wet conditions – the feedback from the drivers has been positive. In addition, the new tires will contribute to even more competitive races, with cars that are less sensitive to aerodynamic turbulence while driving in a row. The lower sidewall also allows the tire to deform less. This in turn means that it will have less of an impact on the overall aerodynamics of the car. All of this should favor close races.
The compounds for the 18-inch tires will also be completely new to ensure maximum consistency and less overheating. Five compounds will be available for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, three of which will be selected for each race weekend, as is currently the case.
With the change from 13 to 18 inches, Pirelli is the only tire manufacturer to have competed in Formula 1 with all wheel sizes that have existed in the history of the world championship. This story began in 1950 with Pirelli’s first victories and titles with Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati: these were Formula 1 cars with front-engined engines that ran on tall and narrow tires. Over time, the sport switched to 13-inch tires before Pirelli launched its current era as Formula 1 global tire partner in 2011. In 2017 Pirelli introduced an innovation: tires that were 25 percent wider than before and thus offered a larger contact area and more grip. This in turn led to the lap records being broken worldwide.
Another new chapter is now being opened with the 18-inch tires: a new dimension with which Pirelli can accompany Formula 1 into the future.