Low-profile future for single-seaters

Michelin's Serge Grisin explains why race tyre makers want bigger wheels

Several of the world’s premiere single-seater championships look set to increase wheel diameters in a bid to make the tyres used for racing more relevant to road cars. Currently, top-tier championships such as F1, GP2 and Formula Renault all run 13-inch wheels, but tyre suppliers believe that using 17 or 18-inch wheels will help their technology transition more effectively into road tyres.

The world’s foremost electric racing car championship, Formula E, has bravely set a precedent in this respect. 

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

‘From the very start the idea was to have maximum links between our cars and the street tyres of the future,’ explains Serge Grisin, Michelin’s Formula E project manager. ‘So what we learn in racing is much easier to transfer to a street tyre because of the championship’s similarities.’

Grisin adds that the process of transferring innovation from motorsport to the road is also made quicker, with the new technology  fast-tracked into production. ‘What we are learning now we can use in the next generation of street tyres.’

It looks like both classes of Formula Renault – FR 3.5 and FR 2.0 – will soon follow suit, as the series has been testing Michelin tyres on 17 and 18-inch wheels. The popular perception is that lower profile rubber helps make handling more precise. GP2 also ran a demonstration car on 18-inch wheels at the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix, and later confirmed that the new Pirelli tyres used on the car were ‘ready to race’.

Even so, Formula E tyres will likely be the most relevant to road cars because, unlike races in other classes, the cars can only run treaded tyres and compete on street circuits. 

‘The tyres have to race on painted surfaces and over manholes in temperatures ranging from five to 50 degrees; it’s the same for street tyres,’ continues Grisin. ‘So during a race we’re in a context where the way the tyre is working is very similar to a normal road tyre. We can use Formula E as a laboratory.’

Most Popular

Visit/bmw/m3-saloon/20529/all-new-bmw-m3-competition-revealed-an-icon-reborn
BMW M3 saloon

All-new BMW M3 Competition revealed – an icon reborn

This is the all-new BMW M3 Competition saloon which will join the M4 Competition coupe in BMW M’s new M3/4 family
23 Sep 2020
Visit/honda/civic-type-r/203112/honda-civic-type-r-gt-2020-review-still-king-of-the-hot-hatch-crop
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R GT 2020 review – still king of the hot hatch crop?

Subtle tweaks have made the Type R an even more formidable hot hatch, but we’re keen to try one again soon to understand fully the changes to the susp…
22 Sep 2020
Visit/bmw/m4/22869/all-new-bmw-m4-competition-revealed-next-generation-super-coupe-debuts
BMW M4

All-new BMW M4 Competition revealed – next generation super coupe debuts

The new BMW M4 Competition applies its war paint, but there’s no manual coming to the UK
23 Sep 2020
Visit/hyundai/202950/updated-hyundai-i30-n-revealed-with-optional-dual-clutch-box
Hyundai i30 N

Updated Hyundai i30 N revealed with optional dual-clutch ‘box

It was the hot hatch that upset the status quo, and now the i30 N is back with more power and tech
24 Sep 2020