Pirelli recently completed carrying out tests on the new 18-inch Formula 1 tire that is expected to replace the outgoing 13-inch tire for the coming season. The testing was done in France at Paul Ricard in a wet tire test. It was conducted by Daniil Kvyat, an Alpine reserve driver.
The whole program called for extensive research and development. The team started on a blank page. They restrategized every element of the tire, from the structure of the compounds used to the tire profile. Switching to low-profile tires means changing the technology employed in motorsport.
The testing process was also thoroughly done. The engineers took more than 10,000 hours to carry out analysis in-house and another 5,000 hours to run simulations. More than 70 prototypes were made virtually while 30 were made physically. These were also tested on the track. In the end, they used 392 sets of Pirelli tires, totaling 1,568 real-life tires.
The work started towards the end of 2019 but was cut short by Covid-19. The team revived the program in 2021 with 28 days of testing. They did 4,267 laps and covered more than 12,427 miles (20,000 km). In total, testing took more than 36 days.
Part of the team that participated in the regime included 19 drivers. 15 of them regularly compete in Formula 1. Pirelli needed their feedback as it was crucial in making the final touches.
Here is what Mario Isola, the head of F1 and car racing at Pirelli, had to say, “We started off the development process with the profile, before moving on to the base construction, and finally homing in on the five compounds that we will homologate for next year.”
The team plans to conduct more tests next year to make the final touches on the tires for the new cars. The tires will be used in next year’s pre-season tests to see them in action for the first time.