Hyundai i20 outdoes F1 car surprise

F1 is stuck in the dark ages in one incredibly road-car-relevant area.

It still uses 13-inch wheels!

This is a surprise detailed in Autosport’s news pages a few weeks ago. Debate has been stirred up because Michelin is musing on returning to F1 – but only with a rule change that would see wheels grow.

This is a few decades behind road cars: take the Hyundai i20 on test recently. That’s an £11k supermini hatch with a 1.2-litre engine – and even this comes with 15-inch alloys as standard.

You’re not a hot hatch of any credibility if you don’t have 18-inches, while 19”s and 20”s are de rigueur for sportscars.

That’s why Michelin’s proposing that F1 grows up. Introduces 18-inches, as are already fitted to sportscars: this would let the company use Le Mans prototype tyre tech as a base for a new set of F1 boots. (Tantalisingly, Autosport also says there’s talk of a non-control-tyre rule: that’ll further spice things up.)

Williams F1 tech man Sam Michael reckons it’s a goer, reports Autosport. ‘It would bring Formula 1 into the modern world.’ 13-inches are now specific only to F1 and micro-engined city cars. Introduce 18”s and you’re suddenly far closer to a road car.

They also, dammit, look far better. Which designer would seriously sketch a car with the rim size and tyre sidewall profile of an F1 car? Other than one from the 1960s? Today, big wheels and liquorice profiles is where it’s at – and it’s making ride quality still decent that’s preoccupying thousands of chassis engineers right now.

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