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F1's wheel rims made stronger to address loose tyre problems

Formula 1 will implement a stronger wheel rim design for 2024 in a move aimed at helping eradicate the recent phenomenon of tyres coming loose after impacts.

Marshals remove the damaged car of Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, from the circuit after the race

Since 2022, BBS has been the standard supplier of wheel rims for all teams as the FIA sought to help bring down costs for competitors.

One area of key focus for BBS since the start of the current rules era, which included a switch to 18-inch wheels, has been the extreme forces the larger dimension rims suffer in impacts compared to the older, smaller designs.

In particular, the way that rims are more exposed to side forces has triggered damage that has, at times, led to the tyre itself popping off the rim and coming loose.

There have been several incidents in recent years where tyres have come free from the rims as the result of damage sustained in a crash.

At the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, when a tyre came off Alex Albon’s Williams due to a collision just after the start, it flew in the air and hit Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri.

Throughout 2023, and following a request from the FIA, BBS moved to develop an improved version of its wheel rim design, known as MK2, to strengthen its products.

This was gradually rolled out towards the end of last season when new rims came into play with various unspecified teams after the summer break.

BBS wheel for F1

Photo by: BBS Japan

BBS wheel for F1

With BBS and teams satisfied with the performance of the upgraded design, the new tougher wheels will now be standard across the grid for 2024.

Speaking to Autosport, BBS said: “The background of the MK2 development is that compared to the era of 13-inch wheels, 18-inch wheels are subject to greater side impacts from the outer rim of the wheel, resulting in more frequent side impacts and resulting tyre loosening.

“The development was initiated in response to a request from the FIA.”

The new MK2 rims look identical, but have been strengthened considerably to better resist impacts.

“MK2 has no change in spoke shape compared to MK1,” added BBS. “Fatigue was not a problem with the original design, but the outer rim shape has been strengthened to better handle side impacts.

“The weight has only slightly increased, but the side impact resistance has more than doubled.”

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BBS has not just worked on improving the strength of its rims, as there have been developments to boost its visuals too through better coating treatment.

“Paint properties have also improved, but this is largely due to the company's own plant completed at BBS MS,” it added.

“MK1 and MK2 are coated using the same coating engineering technology, but by using the newest facility equipment, the company has been able to improve quality efficiency.”

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