The simple fact that the tire and wheel assembly is a huge part of a Formula 1 car design, you can imagine that changing to a completely new wheel size is a big deal and you would be right in your imagining.
The 2021 regulations will see a new 18” tire configuration that reduce the sidewall height and brings a new challenge to teams that have been building their cars and understanding of those cars around the current 13” assembly.
Alex Kalinauckas has a nice piece over at Autosport about the changes and what Pirelli motorsport boss, Mario Isola, has said about the testing of the new tires.
“We have a busy plan for this year,” Isola told Autosport.
“It is very positive that all the 10 teams confirmed they are going to make a mule car for testing this year.
“Also because that means that in Abu Dhabi [at the] end of the season, we will have three days of testing and all the teams are supplying the car with 18-inch tyres.
“[That is] a good validation of the product that we are planning to introduce in 2021.
“Because Abu Dhabi is the end of November, beginning of December.
“So if there is any adjustment [needed], we have a bit of time. Not a lot because then Australia is the middle of March and the test in Barcelona is February.
“But we have a bit of time to react, if we need any small adjustments.
“It’s very positive that we have all the 10 teams running the mule car so they are all on the same level – no advantages to anybody.”
Key here for me is that all 10 teams will participate in the mule car concept because they do not want to be caught out on the tire performance dynamics by staying home and waiting for data from tests to arrive in their mailbox.
Another interesting point that Alex makes is the testing regulations and there is a push to have experienced drivers, not reserve drivers of rookies, to perform the testing. This too makes sense as they would be more effective at determining the slight nuances of the changes.
It will be interesting to see how the teams manage the mandate for rookie driver testing versus the tire testing during the season and at the end of season at Abu Dhabi.
Hat Tip: Autosport
I’m going to predict that on race day 2021, the tires are going to wear much faster than anticipated, due to the smaller side wall.