The challenges Pirelli faces to satisfy F1’s 2026 guidelines targets

As a part of an effort to make F1 automobiles smaller and lighter, Pirelli agreed to cut back the entrance tyre width by 25mm and the rear tyre width by 30mm. The tyres themselves may also turn out to be smaller in diameter, going from the present 720mm diameter to 705-710mm, though F1 will nonetheless be utilizing 18-inch wheels.

Regardless of the diminished tyre sizes the FIA isn’t projecting Pirelli’s new tyres to be considerably down on grip in comparison with their present product.

“We’re not anticipating important distinction from the adjustments being finished on the tyres with respect to basic mechanical grip,” the FIA’s single-seater technical director Jan Monchaux mentioned. “It is perhaps a slight discount as a result of the tyres are smaller, but it surely’s not a departure which is a supply of actual concern for us.”

There had been speak of decreasing tyre and wheel sizes even additional, with a swap to 16-inch rims being on the desk. However the FIA and Pirelli agreed that it could not be sensible so as to add one other variable to what’s already a posh set of technical adjustments.

“We do not need the tyres to be a supply of concern early 2026, and with these new energy items, which within the traction part could have a large quantity of energy, we merely had been a bit of bit nervous at going a lot smaller,” Monchaux defined.

“The discount on the tyres is definitely lower than we might have all hoped, however we did not need too massive a departure from the recognized product, which at present we’ve and are pretty pleased with.”

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Pirelli’s motorsport director Mario Isola mentioned staying with 18-inch tyres would give the Italian tyre producer a greater probability to deal with tyre overheating, a standard criticism of its present F1 rubber.

Mario Isola, Racing Supervisor, Pirelli Motorsport, within the crew principals Press Convention

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Photographs

“We proposed the narrower 18-inch tyre to avoid wasting weight. In our opinion it is a good compromise between saving weight and a tyre that has traits which can be required in 2026,” Isola mentioned.

“With the 16-inch tyres, we had been anxious in regards to the load capability of the tyre, in addition to the likelihood to extend the overheating quite a bit. We did some simulations, and we made a proposal to remain on 18-inches tyres, which was accepted.”

The load saved from the smaller tyres ought to quantity to 4 to 5 kilogrammes, which is a part of the FIA’s bold goal to cut back the automobile weight by 30kg.

FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis mentioned the governing physique would grant Pirelli “elevated alternatives” to check for 2026. The most important hurdle for Pirelli, nevertheless, is the absence of a consultant mule automobile.

Pirelli expects to have bodily prototypes prepared for testing by September this 12 months, however it would solely have the ability to strive these out on present period automobiles in low-downforce trim, which derive their aerodynamic masses in a really completely different method than the 2026 automobiles and do not characteristic lively aerodynamics.

“We could have mule automobiles, however they are going to be greater, heavier, with none lively aerodynamics and with downforce that’s coming from a unique idea,” Isola defined.

“Testing our slim tyres on these automobiles is giving us the likelihood to gather knowledge, however then we have to crosscheck the information with the simulations to grasp if we’re getting in the appropriate path. We can’t rely simply on the monitor testing.

F1 2026 FIA car renders

F1 2026 FIA automobile renders

Photograph by: FIA

“We had an analogous state of affairs in 2016, as a result of the 2017 the automobiles had been 5 – 6 seconds per lap faster than earlier 12 months.

“We’re going to check with a downforce configuration that we consider is simulating what will occur in 2026. The actual downside is that you’ve much more drag. We do not have a 2026 automobile, so we do not have a automobile in a position to do that X mode and Z mode.”

Having entry knowledge from all 10 groups ought to assist Pirelli keep in the appropriate ballpark, but when it must make additional changes it may nonetheless play with the vary of compounds obtainable additional down the road.

For subsequent 12 months Pirelli is engaged on a sixth, softer compound to ought to be extra suited to decrease load road circuits, and it may maintain that wider vary into 2026.

“We are able to right or superb tune with a unique vary of compounds,” Isola added. “So we will go softer, for instance, if the extent of load is decrease in comparison with now. It is all the time a steadiness that we’ve to seek out once we know the traits of the brand new automobile.”

With 2026’s last rules not but signed off and Pirelli’s tyre constructions needing to be finalised by 1 September 2025, that may give the Italian model round 12 months to finish its growth. Whereas it is an aggressive timeline, Isola is assured that Pirelli can get the undertaking over the road.

“It isn’t one thing new, actually,” he concluded. “It was the identical factor with the opposite massive rule adjustments we had; we do our greatest to make the very best tyre for the longer term as we did previously.

Pirelli and Ferrari team members

Pirelli and Ferrari crew members

Photograph by: Pirelli

“There are some limitations, we settle for that, however we work in the very best option to provide tyres with the required traits. If they don’t seem to be good the primary 12 months, we’ll work to regulate them or fine-tune them for the next 12 months, as we all the time do.

“However that is the identical additionally when the rules will not be altering, as a result of in any case the groups are growing the automobiles, and we’ve to observe with our tyres.”

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