In October 2014, Michelin and Renault Sport announced their intention to join forces to develop 18- and 17-inch diameter tires for the Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula Renault 2.0 single-seater racing cars that star in the WSR (World Series by Renault).
The decision came after a positive test at Jerez, Spain, which encouraged the two partners to continue the program. Following further testing, Renault Sport and Michelin have concluded that the replacement of the 13-inch tires that currently equip the WSR’s FR3.5 and FR2.0 cars by 18- and 17-inch tires respectively is a ‘first-class’ solution to make driving more enjoyable for competitors. Benefits include enhanced performance during transient phases. Tires with smaller sidewalls produce less yaw, greater precision and improved steering response. At the same time, the change marks a big step forward in terms of the opportunities it offers to Michelin when it comes to the technology transfer to Michelin’s range of road tires.
The World Series by Renault features two single-seater championships; the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, which is open to drivers as young as 16 years old, and the Formula Renault 3.5 Series which stands out as a benchmark series for the grooming of future Formula 1 drivers.
The conclusions of Michelin and Renault Sport with regard to the use of bigger-diameter tires eloquently illustrate the innovative philosophy that drives the two companies who, as leaders in their respective fields, have their sights set firmly on the future.
Testing resulted in the the two companies proposing that FR3.5 switch from a 26/64×13(f) and 32/66×13(r) configuration to a 28/71×18(f) and 33/71×18(r) set-up. A similar proposal has been offered for FR2.0. In the lower-tier, the proposal would see the single-seaters shift from a 20/54×13(f) and 24/57×13(r) pairing, to a 20/61×17(f) and 24/64×17(r) layout.
“There are solid grounds from both the technical and sporting viewpoints for switching to 18- and 17-inch tires,” notes Philippe Mussati, manager of Michelin Motorsport’s Customer Competition Department. “Our tests reveal that the drivers benefit from more precise performance, while the change also provides the teams with additional scope for set-up work which would consequently have a far bigger influence on results. On top of all this, bigger tires also enhance the cars’ look.
“Renault Sport and Michelin believe these new tire sizes represent the future of single-seater racing. Any decision to use them for the World Series by Renault from 2016 will only be made once the development programme has been completed, but the perspective of Michelin being behind such a ground breaking shift in the world of single-seater racing in association with its long-time partner Renault Sport is an additional source of satisfaction for us,” concluded Mussati.
Click here for a Q&A with Michelin Motorsport’s director, Pascal Couasnon.