Despite F1 moving to a single supplier arrangement, the operation of wheel rims will still act as a big performance differentiator between the teams in 2022 and beyond, reckon tyre manufacturer Pirelli.
Last week, BBS were confirmed as F1's official wheel rim supplier – more than two years on from winning the FIA's tendering process. Originally scheduled to come onboard as the sport's single supplier in 2021, the pandemic-induced delay of the 18-inch tyres meant that BBS' appointment was also pushed out.
With all 10 F1 teams using BBS rims for 2022, the removal of the rim as a differentiator between them doesn't mean that it won't have an impact on their relative performances, according to Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola.
"We have a working group that was managed by the FIA together with BBS, Pirelli and also the supplier of the sensor that is also standard," Isola told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked whether a single supplier made the 18-inch tyre development an easier process.
"We started, in 2020, to develop these. [It was] two years ago because we had to postpone the introduction of the 18-inch tyre for the pandemic. So we had a longer period compared to a normal situation.
"We worked together with BBS; we also ran some tests with the 18-inch tyres fitted on BBS rims.
"It was a very useful approach to have this working group. They were meeting every week to monitor the progression of the activity."
How will F1 teams unlock performance?
Given that all the teams will be rolling on the same rims, and the same tyres, one might expect there to be very little difference between their relative performances.
But it's in the area of temperature management that Isola believes the teams will be able to make a difference, with higher and lower temperatures playing a part in 'switching on' the tyres to unlock performance.
"In terms of how the teams will manage the temperature, that is difficult to predict, because this year, we have more space between the rim and the brake," he explained.
"So, in the past, we know that the teams were using the heat transfer from the brake to the rim to manage the temperature inside the tyre, and so to manage also the pressure.
"It will be different in 2022. I believe that is still in part a performance differentiator, so the teams will try to use this in 2022. If they are able to do that, we will see in the future."
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