Pirelli Motorsport boss Mario Isola said that “the target is not a secret” regarding a smaller, lighter tyre construction for the 2026 Formula 1 season.

A key target of the incoming regulation overhaul for 2026 is to reduce the size and mass – or at least limit it – of the cars on the F1 grid, in a push to improve racing.

Wide-body regulations in 2017, coupled with ground effect regulations of 2022 and 18-inch tyres have all contributed to an F1 car’s minimum weight of 798kg.

Pirelli – the sole F1 tyre supplier through to 2027 with an option of a further year – seeks to mitigate this weight increase by investigating a smaller tyre construction.

“In 2026, we have a completely new car, probably a new tyre size,” Isola told select media. “Smaller, lighter tyres, it’s possible.

“It’s not defined yet, but the target is not a secret: that is to design lighter cars, more agile cars and tyres are a part of the weight of the car.

“So, it can be that we have to supply smaller tyres.

“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 to follow the request of the stakeholders to design a tyre that is always in line with the target defined by all the stakeholders.”

Pirelli tyres.
Bahrain Grand Prix, Saturday 19th March 2022. Sakhir, Bahrain.

Size is one of the only routes left at Pirelli’s disposal to reduce the weight of the tyres, with the Italian brand already utilising weight-saving technology in its current construction of F1 rubber.

“The elements in the construction, we are already using materials that are high technology materials that are very light,” Isola added.

“So, our research and development on new materials – we have a dedicated department for reinforced materials and compounds – are always looking at improving the resistance of the material, keeping the weight as low as possible.”

With Pirelli’s thinking caps on looking ahead to 2026 and the target of reducing weight, F1 fans could see the promise of more nimble and agile cars overall in the near future.

Whilst the 2022 ground effect regulations were designed to improve racing, the size and mass of the current generation of cars limit drivers’ ability to go wheel-to-wheel.

In 2023, cars are approximately 5.63m in length, 2m wide and 95cm tall – combined with the aforementioned minimum weight limit of 798kg without the driver.

This has caused not only Pirelli to rethink its strategy for 2026, but also F1 to look for shorter, narrower and lighter cars altogether.

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