Pirelli ‘Delighted’ with Opening Test with Planned Eighteen-Inch Tyres in France

by Paul Hensby

Mario Isola was delighted with the opening test for the eighteen-inch tyres, which are set to replace the current thirteen-inch tyres in 2021, with Renault F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin being given the opportunity to test with the developmental rubber compounds.

Sirotkin completed two-hundred and thirteen laps across the two-day test at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, while Esteban Ocon was also on hand, running a similar number of laps on the 2020 tyres.

Isola says the eighteen-inch tyre test, which was done using a modified 2018 Renault R.S.18, was a big step forward as Formula 1 pushes towards the start of its new generation of racing.

“We were delighted to open up a brand new chapter at Paul Ricard, with the debut for our 18-inch tyres – which will change the face of Formula 1 – taking place alongside our latest development test for next year’s 13-inch tyres,” said Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at tyre manufacturer Pirelli.

“Renault provided a 2018 mule car for the 18-inch test, with Sergey Sirotkin driving to mark this historic moment. We completed our planned programme as expected, covering 213 laps with the 18-inch tyres over two days.

“This was very useful for us to take a first look at the new generation of tyres and start shaping the development path that we will follow for the remainder of this year and next year.

“Of course, it is hard to read too much into this test as these are still very early days, but we have accumulated all the preliminary data that we wanted in good weather conditions, so thank you very much to Renault and to Sergey for their availability.”

Sirotkin was pleased to have been chosen to be the first driver to run the eighteen-inch rims, with the SMP Racing-backed Russian revealing more details about the running, which saw short, medium and long runs take place across the two days to give Pirelli as much information as possible to work with.

“During two test days, we drove 213 laps, more than 1,000 kilometres,” said Sirotkin, who raced in Formula 1 for Williams Racing in 2018.  “We worked with both new and used rubber, tried different configurations and tyre designs.

“On the first day, the tests were of medium duration, and on the second we switched to a race simulation with a lot of laps in one session. These tests were carried out to refine the data and future work on the tyres and the car, which will appear in 2021 and the information gathered is confidential.

“Such tests are extremely rare, so it’s especially nice that the Renault team invited me to Pirelli tests.”

Isola said it was also important to get some additional track time with the thirteen-inch 2020 tyres with Ocon and Mercedes AMG Motorsport, with the decision about what specification Pirelli will use next year getting closer.

“With the 13-inch 2020 tyres, we covered 212 laps over the two days thanks to Esteban Ocon and Mercedes,” said Isola.  “The work consisted of assessing a range of prototype slick tyres, as we begin to finalise next year’s specification: the last season of 13-inch tyres before we move on to 18 inches in 2021.”

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