F1’s 18-inch tyres are ready for 2022: here’s all you need to know | Top Gear
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F1’s 18-inch tyres are ready for 2022: here’s all you need to know

Pirelli has finished testing the low-profile tyres set to be introduced to F1 in 2022

Published: 22 Oct 2021
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F1 tyre manufacturer Pirelli has signed off on the new, 18-inch tyres that’ll be brought into the sport next year, replacing the current 13-inch, chunky-sidewall design.

Pirelli recorded its 36th and final test day at Paul Ricard earlier this week, with Alpine reserve and former Toro-Rosso-then-Red-Bull-then-Toro-Rosso-again driver Daniil Kvyat using the circuit’s sprinkler system to put the new intermediate tyre through its paces.

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You can see the finished article for yourself at the top of the page. And no that isn’t a recycled CD plonked on top of the wheel nut, teams will have to run a flush wheel cover next season to minimise aerodynamic turbulence which - along with a bunch of other measures - should make the racing better.

The tyre supplier has also revealed some of the impressive numbers accumulated during a development programme that started back in 2019: 70 prototypes have been developed virtually, with 30 of these being physically tested on track.

A total of 4,267 laps have been driven at 10 different tracks, amounting to 20,000km of driving; almost half the circumference of the planet. 392 sets of tyres were used in that time, with 15 of the 20 current F1 drivers getting to sample the new rubber at some stage. Even Lewis Hamilton - who famously isn’t keen on testing - stuck his hand up for a go at Imola back in April…

Not enough figures for you? Pirelli conducted 10,000 hours of indoor testing and more than 5,000 hours of simulator work to get the new tyre just right, rethinking everything from the structure of the tyre to the compounds themselves.

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The new tyres grow from 660 to 720mm in diameter, but the tread width of 305mm at the front and 405mm at the rear is unchanged. In 2021, all teams will be given the same selection of three out of the five available compounds, plus inters and wets for when we get Belgian Grand Prix levels of rain.

“We started off the development process with the profile, before moving onto the base construction,” explained Maria Isola, head of F1 and car racing at Pirelli, “and finally homing in on the five compounds that we will homologate for next year. The results obtained up to now have been arrived at with the input of the drivers currently competing in the championship, a vital aspect for us, albeit using mule cars.

“Once the specification has been validated by the FIA, the drivers will have the chance to try out the definitive 18-inch tyres at the test after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, although we will have to wait for next year’s pre-season tests to see these tyres in action on the 2022 cars for the first time.”

Oh, and you’ll be pleased to know that F1 has asked Pirelli to make rubber that’s less prone to overheating and can be pushed harder for longer, which should mean better on-track battles. Result!

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