Pirelli’s test campaign for the new 18-inch Formula 1 tyres that replace the current 13-inch size next year concluded at Paul Ricard in France, which hosted the final wet tyre test with Alpine and Daniil Kvyat.
The switch to new low-profile tyres represents a technical revolution for the pinnacle of world motorsport, requiring an intense research and development programme that featured both indoor and outdoor testing. Compared to the previous-generation 13-inch covers, the move to 18 inches marks a clean-sheet design, with Pirelli’s engineers re-thinking every element of the tyre: from the profile to the structure to the compounds. There were 28 days of track testing for the new 18-inch tyres throughout 2021, making a grand total of 36 including the test days carried out at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, before a delay to the programme caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The development campaign for the new 18-inch tyres was a comprehensive operation from start to finish, involving more than 10,000 hours of indoor testing, more than 5000 hours of simulation, and more than 70 prototypes developed virtually, which resulted in 30 physical specifications tested on-track by the drivers. A total of 4267 laps were driven, making up more than 20,000 kilometres: around half the earth’s circumference. The numbers of sets used was 392, equivalent to 1568 tyres