Now, however, general consensus has swung in favor of such wheels, which Pirelli say have more in common with road car technology than the current 13-inch ones. Meanwhile, according to Autosport, an F1 insider told them that a switch to 18-inch wheels is finally likely to occur.
When asked about it, FIA race director Charlie Whiting stated: “I would say so. It is part of the package that we are discussing.”
As for how Pirelli feels about making the change, the tire manufacturer’s CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera said that they’re open to it, as long as F1 finds the right regulation.
“There are a number of issues of aerodynamics, of suspension and so on. When the teams are ready, we are ready. For us it is always technology. We are happy with 13-inch, we are happy with 18-inch. The bigger they are, the better it is. But the technological challenges are different.
Pirelli still needs time to organize a suitable test program, which would require an F1 car with a modified suspension.
“At the moment we haven’t discussed this in detail yet,” said Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola. It’s not just the tire regulations that are missing, but all the regulations. We said we are ready to do whatever they ask, with the proper time and testing.”
“We have to make a proper plan. In the past we made different tires, wider tires, we are always trying to follow what are F1’s requirements. But we’ll need a proper car to test. It’s a similar situation to 2016, with the wider tires.”
The key technical advantage of having a larger 18-inch tire is the stiffer sidewall, which helps maintain structural rigidity as well as a constant pressure, as there is less air inside.