24 Oct 2023
F1 plan to scrap 18-inch tyres to reduce car weight
Chiefs of the 2026 F1 have set out new clear rules, with the aim of dropping car weight. With this in mind, a 50kg reduction goal has been laid out which will include a change to the F1 wheel size.
Wheel dimensions should be much narrower, reducing the weight of cars by around 50kg. What’s great about lighter cars is that this should enable them to drive faster when travelling forward straightly, despite perhaps reducing speeds on corners. However, they will generate fewer aerodynamic loads. To enable an adequate lap performance, there needs to be an increase in the hybrid energy recovery.
There are discussions being held of the wheels being pulled back by 20cm and with the width being limited by 10cm. However, this would still be wider than the narrow cars of 2016 which were only 1800mm wide.
Despite these talks, experts believe that designing narrower wheels will have performance implications.
Whilst narrower wheels will help limit drag, being less wide will cause less tyre footprint of rubber on the track, as a result, there will be a reduce in the grip which leads to a drop in overall performance.
Experts are therefore still evaluating better methods. Some of these methods include entirely changing tyre size. In 2022, the change in tyre size added around 14kg of weight to the vehicle due to a bigger rim size.
Some professionals believe that the 50kg weight reduction is too optimistic and that perhaps we should be aiming for a 20kg reduction instead.
Moving to smiley tyres could slim down the F1 car weight. 16-inch wheels are being evaluated to do this. These little wheels would be very light and would bring a new aesthetic to the vehicles which are expected to look quite different.
Whilst F1 professionals are seeking new methods of bringing car weights down, there are thoughts amongst technical experts that these matters should be left to the teams themselves. A good method of making cars lighter could be to think more carefully about what is put inside the cars and what is not. Regardless, F1 is still planning to ditch 18-inch wheels for 2026 with the goal of dropping car weight.
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