Sunday, July 14, 2024


The challenges Pirelli faces to fulfill the targets set out within the F1 regulations for 2026

As a part of an effort to make F1 cars smaller and lighter, Pirelli has agreed to cut back the front tire width by 25 mm and the rear tire by 30 mm. The tires themselves will even reduce in diameter, from the present 720mm to 705-710mm, although F1 will still use 18-inch wheels.

Despite the reduced tire sizes, the FIA ​​doesn’t expect the brand new Pirelli tires to have significantly poorer grip in comparison with current products.

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“We do not expect any significant differences to the changes made to the tires in terms of overall mechanical grip,” said FIA technical director for single-seaters Jan Monchaux. “It may be a small reduction because the tires are smaller, but it's not a departure that would be a real concern for us.”

There was talk of reducing tire and wheel sizes even further, and a move to 16-inch rims was on the table. However, the FIA ​​and Pirelli agreed it could be unwise so as to add one other variable to an already complex set of technical changes.

“We don't want tires to be a cause for concern at the beginning of 2026, and with these new power units that will have a lot of power in the traction phase, we were just a little nervous giving up much less power.” Monchaux explained.

“The tire reduction is certainly less than we all expected, but we didn't want to deviate too much from the familiar product we currently have and are quite happy with.”

Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola said sticking with 18-inch tires would give the Italian tire maker a greater probability of tackling tire overheating, a typical criticism of its current F1 tires.

Mario Isola, racing manager, Pirelli Motorsport, at the team directors' press conference

Mario Isola, racing manager, Pirelli Motorsport, on the team directors' press conference

Photo: Zak Mauger / Motorsport images

“We proposed a narrower 18-inch tire to save lots of some weight. In our opinion, that is a great compromise between weight reduction and a tire with the properties required in 2026,” said Isola.

“With the 16-inch tires, we were concerned about the load capacity of the tire, as well as the possibility of significantly increasing overheating. We ran several simulations and proposed staying with 18-inch tires, which was accepted.”

The weight saved by the smaller tires should amount to 4 to 5 kilograms, which is consistent with the FIA's ambitious goal of reducing the automobile's weight by 30 kg.

FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis said the governing body will provide Pirelli with “increased opportunities” for testing within the 2026 season. Pirelli's biggest obstacle, nevertheless, is the dearth of a representative mule automobile.

Pirelli expects the physical prototypes to be ready for testing by September this yr, but will only give you the option to check them on current-era cars with low-downforce equipment, which distribute aerodynamic loads in a totally different solution to the 2026 cars. They shouldn’t have energetic aerodynamics.

“We will have mule cars, but they will be bigger, heavier, without active aerodynamics and with downforce resulting from a different concept,” Isola explained.

“Testing our narrow tires on these cars gives us the chance to gather data, but then we want to match the information with simulations to grasp whether we’re stepping into the appropriate direction. We cannot rely solely on target tests.

F1 2026 FIA car renders

F1 2026 FIA automobile renders

Photo: FIA

“We had an analogous situation in 2016 because in 2017 the cars were 5 or 6 seconds faster per lap than the previous yr.

“We might be testing with a downforce configuration that we consider simulates what is going to occur in 2026. The real problem is the much higher air resistance. We don't have a automobile for 2026, so we don't have a automobile able to doing this X mode and Z mode.”

Having access data from all 10 teams should help Pirelli stay in the appropriate position, but when further adjustments must be made, they’ll still give you the option to play with a variety of compounds available in the longer term.

Next yr, Pirelli is working on a sixth, softer compound that ought to be higher suited to lower-pressure street circuits, and will maintain this wider range until 2026.

“We can improve or fine-tune by adding a different range of compounds,” Isola added. “So we are able to, for instance, select a softer version if the load level is lower in comparison with the present one. We all the time should strike a balance knowing the characteristics of a brand new automobile.”

As the ultimate regulations for 2026 haven’t yet been approved and Pirelli tire structures have to be accomplished by September 1, 2025, the Italian brand can have roughly 12 months to finish development work. Although the schedule is ambitious, Isola is confident that Pirelli will manage to finalize the project.

“Honestly, this is not something new,” he concluded. “The same was true of the opposite big regulatory changes we made; We strive to create the perfect tire for the longer term, just as we have now done previously.

Members of the Pirelli and Ferrari teams

Members of the Pirelli and Ferrari teams

Photo: Pirelli

“There are some limitations, we accept that, but we’re working in the perfect possible solution to deliver tires with the required properties. If they're not perfect the primary yr, we'll work to regulate or refine them the next yr,” as all the time.

“But the same applies when the regulations don't change, because teams are developing the cars anyway and we have to follow our tires.”

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