Vettel says view of kerbs impaired by 18-inch wheels

Sebastian Vettel offered a mixed review of Formula 1’s 18-inch wheels that will be introduced next year, praising the grip level of Pirelli’s new tyres but noting the difficulty in spotting a corner’s apex.

F1 will make the switch to the new bigger rims from 2022 and teams are in the process of testing the low-profile rubber specially developed by Pirelli.

Aston Martin’s Vettel had an opportunity last month at Silverstone to sample the new wheel and tyre combination which is 2.5 kgs heavier at the front and 3.5 kgs heavier at the rear compared to the current 13-inch spec wheel and tyre.

“You can drive longer at the limit with these tyres without overheating,” said the German driver, quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

“They are more comfortable over the kerbs and offer more grip in slow and medium-fast corners. I felt faster in these sections than with the conventional tyres.”

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The teams and drivers’ comments on the new-spec rubber during Pirelli’s testing program were obviously based on everyone using their own mule car that was not designed with the 18-inch wheels in mind.

So, sensations of grip and comfort may change next season when teams roll out their 2022 contenders.

Like his colleagues, Vettel has had the opportunity to sample a full 2022-spec car, at least in its virtual form in Aston Martin’s simulator.

Blending his real and virtual on-track experiences, the four-time world champion noted a potential visibility issue with the new-spec wheels caused in part by the flow deflectors that curl over the top of the front tyres.

“The big wheels make the view to the front even worse,” contended Vettel. “All the mirror mounts are in the way. It was better when the mirrors were attached to the Halo.

“With the covers and the large wheels, you can no longer see the kerbs.”

All teams, save for Williams, which could not supply a mule car for Pirelli’s program, have now tested the Italian manufacturer’s 2022 tyres.

Alpine will conclude Pirelli’s development program with two final days of wet tyre testing at Magny Cours in mid-September.

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