Formula 1 and the FIA have announced that from 2020, Formula 2 cars will be fitted with 18-inch Pirelli tyres, in a move designed to test and develop the larger rubber ahead of the switch from 13-inch to 18-inch tyres in F1 from 2021 onwards.
Formula 2 and Pirelli will work together during the 2019 season to develop the tyres through an intensive testing programme using an F2 single-seater, with the first shakedown having already taken place at the Autodromo del Mugello in Italy on May 8.
“We are delighted to introduce 18-inch tyres to Grand Prix weekends next season, a full year before they race in Formula 1,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing. “This move will assist us greatly as we develop a new generation of Formula 1 tyres for 2021, and also benefit next year’s Formula 2 drivers themselves as they gain early experience of the future tyre size in Formula 1.”
Pat Symonds, Formula 1’s Chief Technical Officer, believes the move will further enhance F2’s reputation as a “feeder for technology” as well as young driving talent, adding: “It’s a great opportunity for our sport that the tyre development for 2021 can be done not only during bespoke testing but also in a racing environment. The amount of data that Pirelli and Formula 2 will be able to collect in the next 16 months will be very important for the next generation of Formula 1 tyres.”
Stefano Domenicali, President of the FIA Single-Seater Commission, echoed Symonds’ comments, saying the move – which is subject to approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council – highlights F2’s role in developing the latest technologies as well as the top driving talent.
“Former F2 drivers have been very impressive so far in the 2019 F1 season, and the more we can make Formula 2 aligned with the technical and sporting philosophies of Formula 1 the better prepared young drivers will be to come and take on motor sport’s top challenge,” he commented.
“This is a great opportunity for Formula 2 and our drivers,” added Bruno Michel, Formula 2’s CEO. “We are the training ground for Formula 1 and as such it is important that we race with the same type of tyres as the ones used in F1. I am very pleased that F2 will race with the 18 inch tyres as early as 2020, which means that the drivers who will graduate from our championship to F1 in 2021 will be able to adapt even quicker.
“This is not the first time that we have been a test bed for F1 and in the past some new elements were implemented at our level before then being applied to F1. The next step is an intensive development programme to ensure that everything is ready for next season, notably an upgrade kit for our 2018 cars to fit the new tyres.”