Former Grand Prix star Martin Brundle believes that Formula 1 – and all major single-seater championships – must seriously consider switching to 18-inch wheels.
Brundle drove the larger rims and tyres at Monaco in a demo run in the GP2 test car at Monaco on Friday, and believes this is the direction for open-wheel racing to take.
“I think single-seater racing has to go this way,” said Brundle. “Everybody wants smart wheels.
“I’d never driven a GP2 car before, so it was quite a challenge in that respect, but I like the look of the wheels. Think of modern road cars, or look at the renderings of Ferrari’s futuristic car, and Adrian Newey has done the same thing, they’ve all got big wheels.
"It seems odd to have 13-inch wheels at the pinnacle of the sport.”
Good to be back
It was Brundle’s first drive in a racing car in Monte Carlo since the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, and he enjoyed the experience. He last drove a Pirelli-shod car at Monaco in 1991 in a Brabham-Yamaha.
“The car felt great,” he said. “Once I had good temperature in the tyres, and apparently the car does the same laptimes on both types of tyre. I expected it to be really stiff – there’s less compliance in the sidewall of the tyre – that wasn’t a problem.
“The biggest problem I had was being able to see the barriers and kerbs, because the tyre is taller. It was quite a shock on the first lap, especially at Mirabeau and Portier. It’s a bit like a sportscar or a DTM in that respect, you learn to take a photograph in your mind of the barrier and the apex kerb. Drivers will have to change.
“The second lap I was able to push it a bit. But it was a tall order actually to drive one of the most challenging circuits in the world!
One of the drawbacks of the larger wheel and tyre is extra weight, which Brundle believes is a big hurdle that needs to be overcome.
“My concerns are that they are much heavier, so another 15 kilos on an F1 car would be completely unacceptable, so they’ll need to find another way,” he said.
“And with the 420mm tyres [suggested by the recent F1 Strategy Group meeting] that they’re talking about, I wonder if that’s going to make it harder to overtake because the cars are going to be two-metres wide.”