13 May 2020


Since 2018 Formula 1 has had the spectre of dramatic tyre regulation changes for 2021 hanging over its head. The changes are significant but the added complication of COVID-19 Lockdown has meant little time has been available to understand in detail the impact these tyres will have on performance.

What we know at the moment is that there are 2 key changes to be introduced at the start of the 2021 season, the introduction of low-profile tyres, and an increase in wheel rim sizes. These changes will also have a secondary impact. Let’s look into this in more detail.

The last time tyre specifications were changed was in 2017. From 2021 tyre sizes will change. Front tyres will be reduced in width by 65mm while retaining the overall current tyre diameter and rear tyres while remaining the same width, will increase in diameter by 30mm.

With the introduction of increased wheel rim diameters from 13 inches to 18 inches, the tyre walls will become much skinnier which will introduce a harsher ride but could provide improvements in handling.

Although race engineers will need to adapt gear ratios to compensate for larger rear tyres, the biggest impact on the design of the car will be in the need for completely new suspension systems. The reason for this is wholly down to the benefits that a larger profile tyre offers in suspension travel.

With a larger profile tyre some of the suspension for the car is delivered through the deflection of the tyre over the bumps on the track.

The higher profile tyre will offer significantly less deflection and so any losses here will need to be regained from a significant suspension redesign to building greater suspension travel into the mechanical suspension set up on the car itself.

There is a benefit however as teams will regain more control of how their cars ride over the undulations on the track. More variations in handling between cars will be created as teams will have greater margins for adjusting suspension set up.

The scope for more radical suspension design does also open the door for other possible changes including a return to active suspension which has been whispered up and down the pit lane for some time now. Most high-performance road cars already have these systems and many teams already have modern systems developed and ready to go.

Along with the other significant changes in aerodynamics, standardisation in engine design, and overall rationalisation in manufacturing across teams, these tyre regulations should bring closer racing and more unpredictable results.

In 2021 the Formula 1 regulations will be changing significantly contributing to what is expected to be a very exciting and closely run season. If you would like to experience the very best hospitality at one of the marquee races this year please contact JDC Promotions and let us build a bespoke package for you and your guests.


Editor-in-Residence, JDC Promotions Media Centre