F1 tires have very high sidewalls. They always have. A move to low profile tires would be break from tradition. GP2 has the same high sidewalls to prepare a driver for the 'feel' as the high sidewalls flex much more than a low profile tire, but they give the driver better feedback
French tire manufacturer, Michelin, have indicated that they would seriously consider a return to the Formula One series so long as they were just one of the tire suppliers involved and not the only one. One other suggestion they have put forward is a switch to low profile tires, increasing from a 15inch wheel to an 18 inch.
So just how much extra work, and expenses, would it take for the teams to accommodate Michelin’s request to switch to the new dimensions in 2011? McLaren’s Paddy Lowe explained to Autosport that the switch is not as simple as it may initially seem....
“Michelin are talking to the FIA, FOTA and FOM about a return to F1 for 2011-2013 and 18 inch wheels would be a requirement on their part. Principally they feel that those size wheels would be more contemporary in terms of appearance and technology. For us, it depends how we manage it as to how big a problem it could become,” he explained.
“In terms of being conscious of the time and the costs, the teams, I hope, will agree to a set of constraints that mean we don't expand the development into an envelope that's screwed up by that. With a bigger wheel you have less volume around the upright and the brake, for example, and that would have to be looked at. I think that new rules can be written in a way that managed the costs, and I don't think it would be too bad.”
Lowe also confirmed that as far as he is aware, all the teams have agreed that if Michelin supplies that as a condition then they will support it.
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