Pirelli's testing process for the new 13-inch Formula 18 tires, which will replace the existing 1-inch tires from next season, was completed at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, with the final wet tire test by Alpine team and driver Daniil Kvyat.
An intensive research and development program, including both indoor and track testing, was undertaken to introduce the new low-profile tires, which represent a technical revolution for the championship at the pinnacle of world motorsport. Compared to the previous generation 13-inch tires, the design process for 18-inch tires started from scratch. In this process, Pirelli engineers have rethought and redesigned every element of the tire, from the profile to the construction and compound. The 18-inch tires were tested on the tracks for 2021 days in 28. Before the program was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 2019 days of track tests were carried out with the tires, including the tests at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 36.
The development of the new 18-inch tires was a comprehensive operation from start to finish. Over 10.000 hours of indoor testing, over 5.000 hours of simulation, and more than 70 virtually developed prototypes, the resulting 30 physical specifications were tested on the tracks by the pilots. A total of 4.267 tours were made and more than 20.000 kilometers were covered. At this distance, which is about half the circumference of the earth, 1568 sets were used, equivalent to 392 tires.
Almost all teams and 15 pilots participated in Pirelli's test program, 19 of which were in the championship. The pilots played a critical role, each bringing their own unique perspective to different stages of the development process. This valuable feedback has helped Pirelli develop the new tires step-by-step, taking into account the pilot's comments and expectations.
Mario Isola, F1 and Auto Racing Director
“We have completed the development program of the new 18-inch tires by carrying out the final wet tire test. Last year we had to completely overhaul our testing program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We canceled track tests to focus on simulations, as well as virtual development and modelling. This virtual scanning system has helped us optimize the number of physical prototypes produced and return to runway tests for 2021 days in 28. We started the development process with the profile before moving on to the basic structure. Then we concentrated on the further development of the five doughs that we will be homologating for next year. Although test cars have been used, the results obtained so far have been achieved by the contributions of the pilots who are still competing in the championship, which we find very vital. Next year we will also have some test days and if necessary we can fine-tune the 2022 tires according to the new cars. Once the specification has been approved by the FIA, drivers will have the chance to try the latest versions of 18-inch tires in the test that will take place after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But we'll have to wait for next year's pre-season testing to see these tires in use on 2022 cars for the first time."