Pirelli wins battle to retain 18-inch wheels

Apr.2 (GMM) Pirelli has won a quiet off-track battle to retain 18-inch wheels for Formula 1’s new regulations era beginning in 2026.

There were moves to make the wheels smaller, therefore contributing to making today’s notably hefty cars lighter.

Auto Motor und Sport, however, reports that the sport’s ongoing sole tyre supplier has succeeded in arguing against the move to 16-inch wheels.

“There will be some changes in the width of the tyres,” correspondent Michael Schmidt reports.

He said Pirelli argued that bigger wheels are better for preventing overheating. As a compromise, the 2026 wheels will get a little narrower at the front, reducing drag for the new engine rules’ high energy demands.

18-inch tyres are also more road-relevant, whilst sticking fundamentally with what the teams are used to will also ease the leap from the current rules to the next generation – and save money.

“Pirelli wants to start testing with the 2026 tyres as early as September this year,” Schmidt said.

Meanwhile, it emerges that F1 is considering an Indycar-style ‘push to pass’ energy boost button for 2026, boosting top speeds at critical points like DRS by as much as 10kph.

With Red Bull’s dominance of the current 2022-2025 rules era, Lando Norris admits rivals may need to wait until 2026 to truly catch up.

“I think for things to really change, we’ll have to wait until 2026,” said the McLaren driver. “I expect that Red Bull, as the team they are, will always have an advantage because they are already so far ahead.”

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