Testing has been completed on Pirelli’s new 18in Formula 1 tire, which will replace the 13in tire for next year’s season. The program was concluded with a wet tire test in France at Paul Ricard, performed by Daniil Kvyat who is a reserve driver for Alpine.
The move to low-profile tires represents a step-change in motorsport technologically. It required an intensive research and development regime to create the tire from a blank sheet of paper. Every element of the tire has been re-thought, from the profile to the structure to the compounds.
Testing also had to be exceptionally thorough. More than 10,000 hours of indoor analysis were conducted and more than 5,000 hours of simulation. Over 70 prototypes were developed virtually, 30 of which were taken into physical form and analyzed on-track. A total of 392 sets were used, the equivalent to 1,568 tires.
Evaluation work began at the end of 2019 but was disrupted when Covid-19 hit. In 2021, the program resumed, with test hours amounting to 28 days. A total of 4,267 laps were driven, adding up to more than 20,000km of driving. Overall the tire has been tested over 36 days.
Almost all the teams took part in the regime, including 19 drivers, 15 of whom are regular competitors in F1. According to Pirelli, their feedback was invaluable in making the final refinements to the tire.
Mario Isola, head of F1 and car racing, Pirelli, commented, “With this latest wet test we finally close our development schedule for the new 18in tires. Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic meant that we had to revise our test program entirely, cancelling on-track testing to concentrate on simulation as well as virtual development and modeling. This system of virtual screening helped us optimize the number of physical prototypes produced and return to on-track testing for 28 days throughout 2021.
“We started off the development process with the profile, before moving onto the base construction, and finally homing in on the five compounds that we will homologate for next year. The results obtained up to now have been arrived at with the input of the drivers currently competing in the championship, a vital aspect for us, albeit using mule cars.
“Next year, we will still have some test days at our disposal, which will allow us to fine-tune the 2022 tire with the new cars if needed. Once the specification has been validated by the FIA, the drivers will have the chance to try out the definitive 18in tires at the test after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, although we will have to wait for next year’s pre-season tests to see these tires in action on the 2022 cars for the first time.