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Pirelli triumphs in debate over F1 wheel size

Pirelli triumphs in debate over F1 wheel size
© Reuters
Pirelli emerges victorious in securing 18-inch wheel size for Formula 1's forthcoming regulatory changes starting from 2026.

Pirelli emerges victorious in securing 18-inch wheel size for Formula 1's forthcoming regulatory changes starting from 2026.

Initiatives were underway to reduce the wheel size, aiming at decreasing the overall weight of the current generation of significantly heavy vehicles.

According to Auto Motor und Sport, the exclusive tyre supplier for the sport has effectively countered the proposal to switch to 16-inch wheels.

"There will be some changes in the width of the tyres," Michael Schmidt has reported.

Pirelli's argument was that larger wheels contribute to better heat dissipation. In a compromise, the front wheels of the 2026 vehicles will be slightly slimmer, aiming to cut down on resistance in line with the new engine regulations that require higher energy efficiency.

Moreover, tyres measuring 18 inches are more aligned with those used on standard roads, and maintaining the current wheel size will facilitate a smoother transition for teams to the new set of rules, thereby also being cost-effective.

"Pirelli wants to start testing with the 2026 tyres as early as September this year," Schmidt noted.

In addition, it has been revealed that Formula 1 is contemplating the introduction of an IndyCar-inspired 'push to pass' system for 2026, designed to momentarily enhance speed by up to 10kph at strategic moments, similar to the DRS system.

Given Red Bull's control over the sport during the 2022-2025 rule era, Lando Norris acknowledges that other teams might have to hold out until 2026 for a chance at true parity.

"I think for things to really change, we'll have to wait until 2026," the McLaren competitor stated. "I expect that Red Bull, as the team they are, will always have an advantage because they are already so far ahead."

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