Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Director of Motorsport, revealed that with the direction Formula 1 taking in 2026 with lighter cars means they have to supply smaller tyres.
F1 cars have been growing in size and gaining weight recently and the tyres have followed suit, and the new regulations ushered in 2022 saw the tyres grow from 13″ to 18″.
But with the new regulations set to kick in in 2026 – new power units and cars – the sport is planning to give F1 cars a diet to make them more agile, something drivers have asked for as they are unhappy driving the current bulky and under-steery cars.
Pirelli will still be supplying tyres for F1 when the new rules kick in in 2026 as they have recently extended their contract with the sport up to 2027.
Quoted by Motorsport.com, Isola admitted smaller and lighter tyres for 2026 are “possible”, and said: “[In] 2026, we have a completely new car, probably a new tyre size.
“It’s not defined yet, but the target is not a secret: that is to design lighter cars, more agile cars and tyres are a part of the weight of the car.
“So, it can be that we have to supply smaller tyres. If we have to supply smaller tyres as we did in the past, we will change again in 2026.
“It’s part of our agreement with Formula 1 to follow the request of the stakeholders to design a tyre that is always in line with the target defined by all the stakeholders,” he pointed out.
Weight saving technology
Isola added that Pirelli are already exploiting technical know-how that helps in weight reduction of the tyres, which will help when developing the new tyres in 2026.
“The elements in the construction, we are already using materials that are high technology materials that are very light,” he revealed.
“If you put a lot of weight into the tyre, you generate more heat. Generating more heat means that the risk is to blister or create other situations that are not good for the performance and durability of the tyre.
“When we decided to produce the new construction in Silverstone [earlier this year], it is just a new material that is, with the same weight, more resistant.
“So, our research and development on new materials – we have a dedicated department for reinforced materials and compounds – are always looking at improving the resistance of the material, keeping the weight as low as possible.
“That’s useful also for the technology transfer [to road cars],” the Italian concluded.
The last statement from Isola actually sums up the reason why F1 went towards low profile 18″ tyres as it is more aligned with road cars, a direction the sport is pursuing.
Moreover, the 2026 power units will drop the MGU-H, a complicated technology that transforms heat into electrical energy which cannot be applied in road cars as well.