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The Overtaking Problem - Low Profile Tyres  
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Use low profile tyres and reduce engine size

One of our readers suggests this.

Reader's comments

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(comments are sorted latest first)

GAZ914 from Australia suggests,

The cars shape (including wings) creates a force that effectively pushes the car onto the track. As has been stated many times, this increase in "weight" on the tyres provides the extra grip. With the whole world embracing large wheels with ultra low profile tyres these days, why does F1 still use big gumball tyres? I would suggest (as I don't really know) that it is to support the aerodynamic "weight" that is added at racing speeds. The large tyres allow some "give" that the suspension cannot. 
Now, if there was a mandatory tyre size selected that had a much smaller sidewall height, I believe that the tyre would not be capable of providing anywhere near as much "suspension" as current tyres. The manufacturers would then have to adjust the aero load down to suit the tyres (which would be conventional slicks). The width of the tyre could remain the same as current tyres, or even be increased to aid mechanical grip. There would probably also be a requirement to soften the chassis spring rate to allow for some suspension movement to conserve the tyres. The only issue may be the increased straight line speed that the reduced aero drag would allow, but I am sure a reduction in engine capacity could be implemented. Maybe down to 2.5 litres would suffice.

The Heretic's reply:


With this yearís suspension failure epidemic, I think that they are already pushing it to the limit. God knows what low profile tyres will do.

It is difficult. I do sympathise with the FIA. How do you slow the cars down so that it is safe and at the same time keep the formula ahead of F3000 and F3?

I like the idea of lowering tyre profiles. Even on passenger cars it seriously changes the carís ability to dampen even small bumps. With the limited travel on F1 cars it will wreak havoc for at least a season. Now is the time to add that, as it could not get more chaotic.

As far as engine size is concerned, they are still doing wonders when it comes to aspiration. In the turbo era we learned that engine size has little or no influence on power. It is just a factor of how much of the explosive mixture can be forced into a cylinder. I canít remember how much power F1 was cooking up before the turbo era, but I suspect that it was not much more than 600hp. Now rumours are that they are looking at over 900hp and I am not convinced that it will stay there.

Limiting them to 2.5 litres may slow them down but I think that it will not be enough. If as a result of the tyres they are forced to take 40% off the wings the cars will probably be faster than today and today they are already too fast for safety.

The balancing act that the FIA have to perform is to keep it as the top formula, make it less processional, make it safe for all (including spectators), not restrict innovation (although they are sailing close to the wind on that one), allow drivers to participate (not just as a passenger), make it exciting to watch and keep it within a reasonable budget (Well, reasonable in F1 terms anyway). Add to it the politics and venue regulations and it must be as hard as dealing with some public company boards.

The current regulations, especially the weird qualifying, cannot survive. Maybe they will look at sensible ways of making it work. Like the tyres or possibly wing surfaces or both and leave gearboxes and traction control alone.

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