Charles Pic ran 14 laps on the 18ins tyres at the wheel of the current Lotus E22. With few adjustments made to accommodate the very different wheel sizes – and the lack of suspension movement provide by the tyre – he was well off the normal pace. However, the point of the exercise was mainly to allow the sport’s key players to judge the appearance of the new tyres.
Pirelli is keen to make the switch in order to encourage road relevance, and says that it could be ready to supply the new rubber as early as 2016.
“In our view, the new tyres looked stunning fitted to the Lotus,” said Pirelli F1 boss Paul Hembery. “And the reaction has already been felt all over the world. These are just a prototype concept, but if the teams decided that they wanted us to proceed in this direction, we have the capability to carry on development in this area and come up with a production-ready version in a comparatively short space of time.
“We’ve heard a lot of opinions already and we look forward to canvassing other opinions in the coming weeks and months. Even though performance wasn’t by any means priority here, the new tyres still behaved exactly in line with our expectations, so we’re clearly potentially at the beginning of a huge development curve, with the wheel and tyre size rules having remained unaltered for many years.”
Pirelli says that the stiffer sidewall helps retain the structural rigidity of the tyre, and it’s also easier to maintain a constant pressure, as there is less air inside it.
Pirelli adds: “The new tyres tested today have the same width as the current 13-inch tyres (245mm at the front and 325mm at the rear) but a diameter that is bigger by 30mm. The weight is approximately the same as the 13-inch tyre, because although the diameter is bigger, there is a smaller sidewall. The total weight, including the rim, is around 4 kilograms heavier.”