Pirelli ready to supply 18-inch F1 tyres by 2016

Pirelli could provide 18-inch tyres to Formula 1 from the start of the 2016 season should the sport want them following its first test of the larger wheels

Pirelli ready to supply 18-inch F1 tyres by 2016

Lotus completed 14 laps during the morning of the final day of the Silverstone test with Charles Pic at the wheel, using four of the five sets of the 18-inch rubber Pirelli had for trial.

While the evaluation of the larger wheels is aimed at a potential switch in 2017, with 19 or 20-inch rubber also a possibility, Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery confirmed that it would be possible to make the change a year earlier.

But this would require sufficient notice, meaning that F1 would have to give the change the green-light before the end of the year.

"The regulations are talking about 2017 at the moment but we feel ready for 2016 if they wanted to bring it forward a year," said Hembery.

"The priority today was to show people what a current F1 car would look like with a change in rim.

"You know have images and we will supply the people in the Strategy Group and the F1 Commission with images so that they can make a decision on the future regulations on fact rather than computer-generated ideas."

While there was little to be gained technically in today's running, the laps completed did demonstrate that the rubber behaved as expected, with Lotus having only made minor changes to the suspension and clearances to accommodate the bigger wheels.

The tyres are built to pass all standard F1 safety testing procedures and, according to Pirelli, could form the starting point for development of race tyres should a change been made.

Pic lapped well off the pace during his brief runs on the tyre, but performance was not the objective of the test.

"We weren't looking for performance," said Hembery when asked by AUTOSPORT about what Pirelli learned today.

"We confirmed what we knew, which was that the front tyre will create a very aggressive turn-in, the driver will have a very direct response from the front tyre.

"We know that there will be big variations in pressure until we do some more detailed studies on how to control pressure.

"We know that there will be a lot of sensitivity to camber.

"So we were just confirming things we know and the areas that you would start working on over the next period of time if, this is the way the sport will go."

Lotus has not returned to the track since completing its running in the morning on the 18-inch wheels, but if it does so it will switch to conventional tyres.

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