Michelin says 13-inch Formula 1 wheels are "in the past"

Michelin motorsport director Pascal Couasnon believes Formula 1 will soon switch to 18-inch wheels because the current size of 13-inches is "a thing of the past"

Michelin says 13-inch Formula 1 wheels are "in the past"

Earlier this month Couasnon suggested Michelin was poised to make a return to F1, with the formal tender process for the next three-year contract from 2017 opened this week by the FIA.

Couasnon, however, made clear Michelin would only bid if it could make more durable tyres, and running on 18-inch rims.

"They permit the development of new technologies that can be used for mass-produced road tyres," he said.

Would Michelin's return be bad for F1?

"We believe it is impossible to transfer technology from small-diameter tyres with tall side walls, yet motorsport can play a significant role in speeding up the development of future road-going solutions.

"We need racing tyres to have a similar profile to road tyres to be in a position to develop new technologies."

Couasnon is certain 18-inch wheels will eventually be introduced, despite F1's desire to stand out from the crowd.

"Formula 1 has successfully become more modern in many areas, but it is not a hotbed of innovation in the realm of tyres," he added.

"Single-seater cars racing on 13-inch tyres are a thing of the past.

"In addition to the technology-related considerations, bigger-diameter tyres provide single-seater racing cars with a more modern look.

"At the same time, the gain for drivers notably concerns cornering performance.

"Without making any special effort to fine-tune car set-up, the early testing we carried out last autumn with Renault Sport at Jerez, in Spain, revealed the cars were faster and far more enjoyable to drive simply after replacing the 13-inch tyres with 17 or 18-inch tyres."

Current tyre supplier Pirelli has also conducted its own research and is ready to switch to 18-inch rubber if asked by F1 chiefs.

Around Monaco on Friday former F1 driver Martin Brundle conducted two demo laps in a GP2 car running on 18-inch tyres.

Via social media Brundle remarked he liked the look of the tyre, although added he was unable to see the apex, kerbs or barriers.

Couasnon, though, feels the FIA will soon make the call to switch.

"I think the idea is gaining ground," he said. "The next decisions on the matter will be made at the end of 2015 for a possible introduction in 2017.

"Given the new Formula E championship cars use 18-inch tyres already, and that promotional formulae like the World Series by Renault's FR3.5 and FR2.0 championships which prepare for Formula 1 are perhaps going to follow suit, it seems to me that it's a move that makes sense."

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