Formula 1

One Last Dance For The 13-Inch Formula One Tyre

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Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

For the final time in Formula One history, the 13-inch tyre will make it’s farewell appearance at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after being in Formula One for more than half a century. It comes as the sport moves to brand-new 18-inch Pirelli tyres from next season.

In a special touch by Pirelli, all the tyres this weekend will have “Next year I turn 18”, on the sidewall. Pirelli have done this to bid a fitting goodbye to the 13-inch tyres whilst also looking ahead to the new 18-inch tyres to be introduced next season.

13-inch tyres have been used for almost the entirety of the sports existence, however it was in the 1980s when the tyre was the definitive size in the sport. Pirelli’s first 13-inch tyre appeared in the 1981 San Marino Grand Prix, where Derek Warwick and Brian Heaton used the tyre for the Toleman Team. The first win using Pirelli’s 13-inch tyres came four years later in 1985, thanks to Nelson Piquet at the French Grand Prix whilst racing for Brabham-BMW.

In 1989 Pirelli introduced a new generation of 13-inch tyres which were used till Pirelli left the sport in 1991. The P-Zero’s made their return of course though in 2011, when Pirelli returned to Formula One as the sole tyre supplier. Since Pirelli returned in 2011, the Italian manufacturer have produced more than 400,000 tyres, coming from their factories in Turkey and Romania.

Mario Isola Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli, is proud of all the things Pirelli have achieved over the years with the 13-inch tyres, and is excited as the sport undertakes a new revolution in 2022.

“This weekend will mark a pivotal moment in Formula 1 history with the definitive farewell to the 13-inch tyres that have been part of the pinnacle of the sport for decades. Pirelli has played a starring role in that era, just as it has done since the inaugural championship back in 1950. We’re proud of everything that has been achieved over the years.

“At Pirelli, we’ve always focussed on innovation to be a valued partner to the championship. We saw this back in 2011, when we accepted the first technical challenge that was put to us to create high-degradation tyres. Then again when we created the tyres for the very first hybrid F1 cars in 2014, and once more when we made the move to much wider F1 tyres – for the fastest generation of cars seen in the sport – from 2017.

“Now, thanks to the biggest rule change in decades, we take on this latest revolution with brand new tyres that are more similar to those used on the road by everyday motorists. This means that we have the best chance to transfer the technology derived from Formula 1 into our road car product. It’s time to say thanks to 13-inch tyres for all the emotions they have given us, as we look forward to a new era with the 18-inch tyres.”

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