Pirelli wraps up first F1 test on 18-inch 2021-spec tyres

Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has completed its first test of the 18-inch tyres that will eventually be introduced into the sport from 2021.

Pirelli last year saw off competition from Hankook to remain as Formula 1’s exclusive tyre supplier through 2023, with the tender including the stipulation that 18-inch tyres will be used from 2021.

Pirelli is permitted 25 days of private running per year and the company has opted to utilise some of its 2019 allocation in order to get a head start on 2021.

Renault tester Sergey Sirotkin was in action across Thursday and Friday at French Grand Prix venue Paul Ricard, completing 213 laps aboard the modified R.S.18.

"We completed our planned programme as expected, covering 213 laps with the 18-inch tyres over two days," said Pirelli chief Mario Isola.

"This was very useful for us to take a first look at the new generation of tyres and start shaping the development path that we will follow for the remainder of this year and next year.

"Of course, it is hard to read too much into this test as these are still very early days, but we have accumulated all the preliminary data that we wanted in good weather conditions, so thank you very much to Renault and to Sergey for their availability."

Renault-bound Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon was also in action, running the 13-inch 2020 prototypes, as Pirelli closes in on its compound choices for next season.

Ocon, 22, completed 212 laps across the two-day test as he sampled Mercedes’ W10 for the first – and last – time this season.

Teams are set to evaluate the finalised 2020 tyres during the traditional post-race test in Abu Dhabi, following the final round of the campaign.

Pirelli will continue to supply 13-inch tyres in Formula 1 next season but it is already preparing for Formula 2 to make the switch one year earlier than its senior championship.

Pirelli has undertaken extensive private tests of 18-inch tyres on a modified Formula 2 car, with ex-F1 racer Jean Alesi demonstrating the prototypes at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Further 18-inch tyre tests are planned this year with McLaren next month, and with Mercedes in December.