ERJ staff report (TP)
Silverstone, UK – Pirelli’s new 18-inch concept tires made their debut at Silverstone on 9 July.
Lotus F1 Team reserve driver Charles Pic, in the current Lotus E22, completed 14 laps of the circuit to showcase “aesthetics rather than performance, and a general-purpose compound – so the lap times were not the focus”.
Pirelli said the objective was to gauge reaction to the very different new design, which received the “thumbs up” from most observers.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “In our view, the new tires looked stunning fitted to the Lotus, and the reaction has already been felt all over the world.
“Even though performance wasn’t by any means priority here, the new tires still behaved exactly in line with our expectations, so we’re clearly potentially at the beginning of a huge development curve
“Having learned a lot from the previous tests in Bahrain and Barcelona, we were now able to carry out a lot of more targeted work for 2015, on a fast and demanding circuit.”
The new tires were designed and built in accordance with Pirelli’s “premium strategy” in Milan. The key technical advantage of an 18-inch tire is a stiffer sidewall that helps maintain the structural rigidity and also makes it easier to maintain a constant pressure – as there is less actual air inside.
As a bigger tire, it is much more relevant to the Ultra High Performance tires that are seen on the road, leading to greater technology transfer.
The new tires tested have the same width as the current 13-inch tires (245mm at the front and 325mm at the rear) but a diameter that is bigger by 30mm. The weight is approximately the same as the 13-inch, because although the diameter is bigger, there is a smaller sidewall. The total weight, including the rim, is around 4 kilograms heavier.