MONTE CARLO, Monaco—New Formula 1 technical regulations for 2017 calling for higher aerodynamic downforce means Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. has had to design and build wider tires, although the rim diameter will stay at 13 inches.
The new spec tires are nearly 25 percent wider with the new fronts at 305/670-13, up from 245 millimeters, and the rears 405/670-13, up from 325 millimeters. They also weigh up to two to three pounds more, respectively, than the 2016 spec tires, according to Pirelli. The tire maker also will have to re-engineer the tires' structure to handle the increased downforce loading.
Pirelli did not say how much it expects the development of the new dimensions will cost.
Testing has started with a few teams modifying their 2016 cars with the higher downforce wings in an attempt to simulate the 2017 conditions. So far Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas have completed tests with the new tires for Pirelli.
Pirelli has requested 25 days of such testing and requested the FIA provide a “mule” car—a recent vintage F1 car modified to meet the 2017 specs—for its own testing regime.
The company said the technical change will affect the balance and aesthetics of the cars next year, which is the first year of Pirelli's latest three-year agreement in Formula 1.
The tire maker noted that the new tires' contact patch will be optimized not only for size, but also shape.
Formula 1 sanctioning body Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA) is sticking with the 13-inch rim diameter that's been the standard spec for the past several decades, despite Pirelli pitching a change to low-profile tires on 18-inch rims.
Pirelli noted that the decision to allow more aerodynamic downforce was grounded in the FIA's desire for faster lap times. Wider tires also will help with higher cornering speeds through improved lateral grip and improved acceleration and braking, but the wider profile will present some aerodynamic disadvantage.