After years with comically small 13-inch wheels and massive tires, F1 will try out an 18-inch wheel/tire combo.
Pirelli, F1's only tire supplier, will be doing the testing on a Lotus car tomorrow. Presumably the 18-inch package, being at least somewhat relevant to wheels and tires supplied for and used by ordinary road cars.
The thing is, F1 is more about the veneer of road car relevance than any actual applications. Think that the V10 in the old BMW M5 had anything to do with the V10 in BMW's contemporary F1 car? Not so much. Think the hybrid system in the upcoming Honda V6 turbo will have anything to do with your next Accord? Nah.
A switch to 18-inchers across the board would mean, if anything, a huge cost to the sport. The tires on current F1 cars are so tall, they function as a main component of the car's suspension. Take away all that sidewall and you have to completely redesign the car's suspension. F1 is a world where even the smallest changes in suspension mounting points account for big aero challenges, like in the case of double versus single versus zero keel front ends. Change the suspension, and you're asking for surprisingly huge investments from teams to make everything work.
But the change starts to make sense if you think about it in reverse. If everyone in F1 was using 18-inch wheels, it would be impossible to convince them to switch to completely irrelevant 13-inch setups. The 18 inchers fundamentally make sense.
And since F1 has already run cars with floaters, we're just a step or two away from riding on dubs and spinners. Let's get #donkF1 trending, shall we?
(Hat tip to McMike!)
Photo Credits: Pirelli