Specific rim – could larger wheels make a difference in motor sport?

Saturday, October 15th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Specific rim – could larger wheels make a difference in motor sport?

Michelin’s racing department is usually experimenting with larger wheels as well as also also argues they have greater relevance to road car technology

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The first surprise: just one-seater on 18in wheels doesn’t look rubbish. I’d feared the idea might, however no. in which Formula Renault 3.5, 
on deeply dished 18in-diameter wheels, looks rather not bad to me.

Single-seat racing cars, up to as well as also also including Formula 1, have been using littler wheels – usually of 13in – for years. I don’t know why. There was a time when ultimate performance road tyres were around 13in in size, I suppose, however only if you drive a Caterham are they still.

Road cars left 13in wheels behind long ago, however single-seat racing cars – little, I suppose, as well as also also light – stuck with them. Which is usually fine, unless, say, you’re a tyre producer as well as also also you think road tyres ought to benefit in some way coming from tyres you design for competition; technology transfer, breed improvement, in which sort of thing.

the idea’s the sort of concept you might think hardly ever happens these days, given how far removed motorsport is usually coming from road driving, except for one thing: a tyre compound Michelin used at Le Mans just four years ago is usually used in its Pilot Sport Cup road tyre today.

Which is usually why Michelin, developer of road as well as also also race tyres, might like more single-seaters to move to larger wheels. the idea even pitched for the F1 tyre contract coming from 2017, hoping to replace Pirelli, however a move to 18in rims was a condition of its application. (Pirelli subsequently inked a brand new deal with F1 through to 2019).

“For us to go to F1, we need a not bad reason to do so,” says Pascal Couasnon, director of Michelin Motorsport. If Michelin doesn’t learn anything for the road, the idea’s not interested. The trouble is usually, not many people in F1 have hitherto been interested in moving to a larger wheel as well as also also tyre.

Hence, Michelin has developed some 17in tyres as well as also also fitted them to a Formula Renault 2.0, as well as also also some 18s as well as also also fitted them to a Formula Renault 3.5 – just one-make formula coming from which some drivers have stepped straight to F1.

Michelin claims a lot of benefits – not just in which the idea’ll develop better road tyres as a result. the idea thinks in which 13s hold back suspension engineers as well as also also drivers, because the large, flexible sidewall blunts set-up adjustments made to a racing car. A 17in or 18in tyre, with smaller, probably stiffer sidewalls, makes a car far more sensitive to set-up adjustments. “the idea gives more opportunity to the team engineers to adjust your vehicle’s setting, as well as also also make more [lap time] difference coming from box to box than before,” says Philippe Mussati, Michelin Motorsport’s customer competition department manager.

In closed formulae like Renault 2.0 as well as also also 3.5 (coming from which Renault, although not Michelin, is usually withdrawing next year), Mussati says, the only difference is usually the driver as well as also also your vehicle’s set-up. “as well as also also on 17in or 18in, the setting is usually much more important than the idea used to be with 13in tyres,” he adds.

Bigger tyres are also meant to be cheaper for teams. A 17in or 18in wheel also gives space for bigger brakes, which means they can be made coming from cheaper, lower-tech materials yet still retain the same stopping power as well as also also degradation.

At the moment, Michelin has aimed to get the same wear as well as also also performance characteristics coming from the larger tyre as the smaller one. The result is usually in which, at the moment, the idea’s a little heavier – around 0.5kg a corner – as well as also also has the same wear rate, however turns out to be up to a second faster a lap.

“We are probably 50% of the way there,” says Couasnon, who describes the tyre as a “first or second draft”. He says there’s still “optimisation of the compound as well as also also the structure of the tyres” to do, however “the profile itself is usually done”.

The lower profile – not truly low, which helps the appearance, by my reckoning – is usually said to make your vehicle’s steering responses sharper than before. I have a go in both the 2.0 as well as also also 530bhp 3.5 cars however, well: I haven’t tried either on 13s, I don’t know the circuit or your vehicle as well as also also I’m not a racing driver.

Racers from the series who’ve tried them, though, like them. not bad drivers like anything in which makes them faster as well as also also think they’ll be able to set a car up better than their competitors.

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