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Pirelli ready for 18-inch tyres in 2016

ESPN Staff
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Charles Pic gave the 18-inch tyres their first run out on Wednesday © Sutton Images

Pirelli would be willing to introduce low-profile tyres in 2016 if the sport requested it after the successful test of its 18-inch tyres on Wednesday.

The tyres used by Charles Pic on the Lotus were concept tyres, but Pirelli said they could form the basis of a development tyre moving forward. It is expecting the sport will opt for the tyres in 2017 but would be willing to develop them for 2016, the last year of its current contract.

"They are talking about it for 2017 and I believe it's going to be decided this year," Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery said. "I think that's a realistic timing and we think if they really wanted to and we pushed hard, we could do it for 2016 as well.

"It clearly needs a substantial amount of development work. We are going to start a programme on 18- and 19-inch with the GP2 car and the question with them is probably about [the lack of] power steering. They have a steering limitation. That's something we are going to progress and we will work attentively on that over the next few months."

Asked about the challenges of low-profile tyres in F1, Hembery said: "It's a bigger challenge in some ways because in Formula One you go over the kerbing a lot and that puts a big compression into the tyre and you've got much more rigid sidewalls, so you do have integrity challenge. The car sensitivity to camber will be high with such a rigid product and also controlling pressure sensitivity, but it's all things that we know. It's the first step and it's in the hands of the sport to decide what they want to do."

Hembery said there were pluses and minuses for Pirelli in going low profile, but they would be much closer to the company's road-going products.

"The tyres today look a lot more like the tyres we sell on a regular basis, so there is certainly a good argument for that. The other side is that there is less advertising space, so you have this strange conundrum between the two. I think you'd have to do it and find out, because it's something you can leverage better from a link from motorsport through to the roadcar business."

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