Formula 1 set to keep 13-inch wheels rather than going to 18-inch

Formula 1 appears poised to retain 13-inch wheels despite recent suggestions it could switch to 18

Formula 1 set to keep 13-inch wheels rather than going to 18-inch

Current tyre supplier Pirelli recently showcased the larger spec on a GP2 car in Monaco, with former driver and current television commentator Martin Brundle at the wheel.

Rival Michelin already uses 18-inch in Formula E, and has made clear it will only submit a tender for F1's latest tyre-supply contract from 2017 if it switches to that format.

But the suggestion now from within F1 is it is unlikely to change due to the issues running the 18-inch wheel would raise.

"The subject of bigger wheels has been raised many times over the last five or eight years," said Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe.

"The broad consensus is that going to bigger wheels is not a good direction. From a grip point of view it's not positive.

"Like for like, such tyres will have a lower grip and the weight will go up considerably, so it's not an attractive direction performance-wise.

"I think generally we would intend to stick with the 13-inch wheels."

Ferrari technical director James Allison supported Lowe, but highlighted the fact there is still discussion with regard to a fatter rear tyre, with suggestions it could switch from the current 375mm to 420mm from 2017.

Ricciardo: Wider tyres would highlight top drivers

"As Paddy said, the rim diameter is going to stay where it is," said Allison, "but the width of the tyre is probably still up for grabs.

"We're discussing what that ought to be, along with all the other aspects of the rules for around about that time."

With Michelin certain to drop out of the running if F1 retains 13-inch rims, it increases Pirelli's chances of being handed another contract.

Despite that, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: "You never know.

"We've always said we're willing to do what the sport requests.

"At the moment, from what we understand from the Strategy Group, the 13-inch is the direction the sport wants to take, and we will do that.

"If the sport wants to go [as big as] 19-inch, then we will do that, but the comments [from Lowe and Allison] really reflected on the Strategy Group meeting."

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