Pirelli expects a brief for lighter and smaller F1 tires for 2026

Pirelli expects a brief for lighter and smaller F1 tires for 2026

To reinforce the connection between Formula 1 technology and road cars, tire size has increased from 26.4 inches (13-inch rims) to 28.3 inches (18-inch rims) for ground effect arrival in 2022.

This follows the 2017 move to ‘wide cars’, which saw the introduction of a 2.4-inch wider front tire and a 3.15-inch rear growth compared to the previous 2010-2016 generation.

However, the larger rubber contributes to the new minimum curb weight of 798kg. This bulk led to driver complaints that the machine was lazy and less steering. In contrast, slower speed handling offset the desired overtaking gains resulting from the regulatory reform.

As such, Pirelli – which has signed an extension to its Formula 1 contract to supply tires exclusively until 2027, with an option for another season – expects the design brief to return to smaller tyres.

“(In) 2026, we have a completely new car, probably with a new tire size,” Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola told selected media, including Motorsport.com.

“(Smaller, lighter tires), it’s possible. It’s not yet determined, but the goal is no secret: to design lighter cars, more agile cars, and the tires are part of the weight of the car.

He continued: “So, it is possible that we will have to provide smaller tires. If we have to provide smaller tires as we did in the past, we will change again in 2026.”

“It is part of our agreement with Formula 1 to follow stakeholder demand to design a framework that is always in line with the objective set by all stakeholders.”

Isola added that reducing tire size was the primary way to make rubber meaningfully lighter since current construction already relies heavily on weight-saving technology.

Mario Isola, Racing Director of Pirelli Motorsport speaks to the press

Photography: Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

Mario Isola, Racing Director of Pirelli Motorsport speaks to the press

“The elements in the construction, we actually use high-tech materials that are very lightweight,” he explained.

“If you put too much weight in the tire, you generate more heat. Generating more heat means the risk is of blistering or creating other situations that are not good for the performance and durability of the tire.”

“When we decided to produce the new chassis at Silverstone (earlier this year), it was just a new material that had the same weight and was more resistant.

“Therefore, our research and development of new materials – we have a dedicated department for reinforcement materials and composites – is always striving to improve the strength of materials, and keep the weight as low as possible.

“This is also useful for technology transfer (to road cars).”

Pirelli also revealed that it is about to begin analyzing the structure of Formula 1 tires for the 2025 season amid increasing complaints from drivers about high levels of wear.

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