F1 moves to 18″ wheel in 2021

The FIA have offered a tender for a new sole-supplier for it’s Formula 1 tire but this time the winning bidder will not only cover the 2020 season’s current 13” specification but also move to an all-new 18” wheel tire spec in 2021 and beyond.

The challenge here is that the first year in the deal, the winning supplier will have to create a 13” wheel design (which favors current supplier Pirelli) and then create an all-new 18” version with narrower front tires.

The FIA are looking to ban tire warmer blankets as well and have requested that the new supplier create a tire that will have safe performance when leaving the pits cold. The tires will need to be able to run at cold and hot tire pressures safely, of course.

The tender says there will be three compounds at each race with the easier labels of hard, medium and soft names. The FIA describes each as follows:

  1. – Hard compound: 2s degradation achieved at 22% race distance Base lap time
  2. – Medium compound: 2s degradation achieved at 18% race distance 1.2s/lap quicker than Hard compound
  3. – Soft compound: 2s degradation achieved at 10% race distance 2.2s/lap quicker than Hard compound

The FIA say they are doing it for the entertainment value of the sport by:

“the intent is to create the maximum number of race strategies yielding race times such that multi-stop strategies provide just enough potential of a beneficial outcome to encourage the greatest variety in the racing spectacle.”

It is also stated that after approval of the tenders, the winning supplier will engage with Formula 1 directly for the commercial contract. What is interesting is that they are also looking at this continued HD tire concept, which is irritating, but they also want tires to recover from a window of high deg:

“considered desirable both for its impact on race strategies and to ensure tires are not run to a point of excessive wear. A non-linear performance gradient change (‘cliff’) at a certain percentage of tire wear would achieve this. It is suggested that an underlayer of low performance is designed below the tread compound to achieve this.”

“it is expected that aggressive driving or close following will incur higher tire degradation per lap than gentle driving or driving in free air.

“Once a period of aggressive driving or close following ceases, the tire should rapidly recover the lower level of degradation per lap associated with the more benign conditions.”

While many feel the 18” wheel is a move in the right direction, the changes to car design will be big as the tires and larger sidewall of the current 13” is critical to the car’s overall design. A lower sidewall will be a real challenge to design around. What others may argue, me included, is the continuation of the HD tire concept but I understand why the FIA feel this is the right direction. I understand it adds a greater element for strategy and on-track action. What do you think? Is this the right direction for F1?

Hat Tip: The FIA Tender Page 8

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Fast Freddy

I was hoping to find a pic of a donked F1 car, but alas only this little ditty


I’m glad they finally will get rid of tire warming blankets.


Out of curiosity, why do you want to be rid of them?


Cost, for one. I don’t remember the exact price but they are not cheap(like most things in F1). Other race series don’t use them. Cold/warm tires can add a bit of uncertainty to races.


In the big picture, i don’t think tyre warmers are likely to be a big cost saving to the Teams.
The use of tyre warmers is a bit mixed across different series, and I saw that previous attempts to ban tyre warmers were opposed by the drivers ((Through the GPDA) on safety grounds.
It will certainly throw in a random element to the racing, and put a huge emphasis on driver skill in tyre management, so tyres become a bigger factor in the outcomes of races and championships.
I’m not sure those are going to be good things for F1


Of course it won’t be a big cost saving point for the teams but it is at least a small measure for it. You know very well whenever someone suggests something that may actually impact their bottom line for saving money, cries of protest will rise. It’s long past time to give more emphasis on the driver’s skills and judgment while driving on the track.


This is going to be a major reset for F1. Re-engineering the cars for 18″ wheels and low profile tyres is going to be BIG. It will require suspension that can absorb bumps, and ride kerbs (curbs in Austin and Miami), and a chassis that can accommodate the ‘long’ travel suspension components. Everything F1 Teams know about tyres, suspension and aero is based on the 13″ dia wheels and high profile tyres, so its a massive change. I think that this change opens the door for the big money teams to score a huge advantage over the smaller teams, and… Read more »


A repost from the podcast #584 thread…….even more interesting in light of this news.

Hi Todd and all,
If you have time to listen to another podcast, Autosport have released a cracker this week, an interview with Mario Isola Pirelli’s head of Motor racing. Lots of information about tyres, what F1 ask Pirelli to do, the infamous 7 compounds, the thin gauge tyres, etc etc, an excellent listen (right up there with TPF-584).



Im probably in th minority here, but I like the change as I think it makes the cars look better. I think the tire warmer portion is also a good idea. Let’s see how they get around that one, maybe keep the garages at an ambient temperature of 120F… I was thinking the tires were currently 15” for some reason, maybe that was nascar, so being 13” will be a major change, as has already been mentioned. I’d also like to add that unsprung weight will be increased as normally a larger diameter tire/wheel combo will weigh more. Therefore suspension… Read more »


One of the reasons for sticking with 13″ wheels for so long was to limit the size of the brakes. However with the maximum disc diameter and thickness specified in the technical regulations, this restriction is no longer required.
Braking distances are arguably too short already, and make overtaking much rarer than it used to be. I cannot see a reason to allow bigger brakes and the resultant shorter braking distances.


I agree the cars are likely to look better on low profiles, but I do think its a change that’s going to have a huge cost impact. I’m not sure how L.M sell that to the smaller teams.
The point you make about unsprung weight is another difficult engineering challenge to overcome.
As you say F1 engineers have the capability to sort these things out, but the teams with bigger budgets will do that first, and best.


I get that they’re trying to make the two-stop a viable option relative to one-stop, and I agree with them that the races are more interested when we aren’t just watching the leaders try to nurse a badly worn set of tires across the line. But I think muddling with the tires to add a degradation cliff is the wrong way to do it. Besides, there already is a performance cliff somewhere–look at Bottas at the end of Silverstone. I see the dominance of one-stop races as side effect of the overtaking problem. Right now, even if a team thinks… Read more »