F1 Tyre Size to Change in 2026: Boosting Performance and Agility
In a bid to enhance the relationship between Formula 1 technology and road cars, officials have announced that tyre size will be altered once again for the 2026 season. This move follows previous changes made in recent years, aimed at improving performance on the track while maintaining safety standards.
The transition from smaller tyres with 13-inch wheel rims to larger ones with 18-inch rims was introduced back in 2017 when ‘wide cars’ were first implemented. These wide cars saw an increase of 2.4 inches for front tyres and a growth of up to 3.15 inches for rear tyres compared to their predecessors from the earlier generation (2010-2016).
However, this adjustment resulted in an unforeseen issue – an increase in minimum car weight limit which led some drivers to complain about sluggishness and understeering during races. The slower handling at low speeds partially offset the desired overtaking gains brought by other regulatory changes.
To address these concerns, Pirelli Motorsport – the exclusive tyre supplier until at least 2027 – is anticipating another alteration to tyre design specifications as part of their agreement with Formula One Management.
Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola mentioned that “[In] 2026, we have a completely new car, probably a new tyre size.” He also hinted towards returning to smaller and lighter tyres stating that “It’s not defined yet… but the target is not a secret: that is… more agile cars.”
This potential shift towards smaller-sized rubber could help alleviate issues related to vehicle weight since tyres greatly contribute to overall car mass. Isola explains, “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.”
Isola further adds that reducing tyre size is a primary means of effectively reducing their weight without compromising performance and safety. Despite already utilizing lightweight materials and advanced construction techniques, he believes there is room for improvement.
Pirelli’s research and development department constantly strives to enhance material resistance while keeping weight at a minimum. Isola emphasizes that these advancements not only benefit Formula 1 but also have potential applications in road cars.
In addition to this forthcoming adjustment, Pirelli plans to analyze the construction of F1 tyres for the 2025 season due to growing concerns over degradation levels reported by drivers.