Pirelli has presented its new tyres in 2017 size in Monte Carlo. This is a significant technical change that also has an effect on the balance and aesthetics of the cars that will compete next year: the initial season of Pirelli’s latest three-year agreement in Formula 1.
In 2017 there will be new technical rules that include a significant increase in aerodynamic downforce. To fulfil the objectives of improving lap times, in combination with the latest aerodynamic modifications, the decision has been taken to have wider tyres and therefore a wider track.
Apart from the aesthetic and the aim to reduce lap times by approximately 4 seconds next year, the wider tyres should help to maintain grip in corners, something which the rulemakers are hoping can help overtaking. This point however is questionable, as wider tyres will similarly reduce braking distances and increase cornering speeds, making outbraking all the more difficult.
The regulations for 2017 stipulate that the front tyre, which is currently 245mm wide, will increase to 305mm. The rear tyre will grow from 325mm to 405mm. So the new sizes for slick tyres will be 305/670-13 at the front and 405/670-13 at the rear (the total diameter will go from the current 660mm to 670mm). Wheel rim diameter remains unchanged at 13 inches - despite Pirelli pushing for an increase of wheel rim size as well.
This makes the tyres 60mm wider at the front, and 80mm wider at the back. Consequently, the 2017 tyre increases in width by 25% compared to the current size. This is the case for all three types: slicks, intermediates and full wet. Pirelli have claimed that apart from the increased size of the contact patch, this change, along with the company's design changes, will create a larger and more optimised contact patch for the tyres to grip the road.
In order to allow Pirelli to have as much information about the requirements as possible, the testing regulations were also adapted, meaning that:
- Tests with 2012, 2013 or 2014-specification cars, using tyres in the current size but with prototype elements (in the constructions or compounds) to prepare for 2017.
- A total of 25 days of testing with modified cars, using prototype tyres in 2017 size.
The testing with 2012, 2013 and 2014-specification cars using current tyre sizes already got underway in May and will continue throughout the summer based on an agreement with the teams.
The tests with tyres in 2017 size will start in early August, according to a programme that has been agreed with the participating teams. It is understood here that Ferrari will be the first team to test the wider tyres with an interim car at Fiorano, followed by a test by Red Bull Racing at Paul Ricard. Mercedes is also thought to be preparing a test vehicle for the 2017 tyres and may be used to test at Silverstone.