McLaren completes 18-inch F1 tyre test at Paul Ricard

Lando Norris in action in tyre testing

McLaren duo Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris got their first taste of 18-inch tyres after assisting Pirelli with its 2021 test programme in France this week.

Pirelli is poised to introduce 18-inch rubber as part of the 2021 regulatory overhaul and has already started preliminary testing with the tyres.

Following on from last month’s test with Renault reserve Sergey Sirotkin, McLaren regulars Sainz Jr. and Norris got behind the wheel at French Grand Prix venue Paul Ricard this week.

Unfavourable weather conditions restricted Sainz Jr. to just 39 laps on Thursday before Norris added another 106 laps in sunnier and warmer conditions on Friday.

Mercedes is set to assist Pirelli with its next test, in December, before all teams participate through 2020, when the company will be permitted 25 days of running.

All data gathered during the respective tests is shared between all teams to ensure no-one can gain a competitive advantage.

Formula 1’s 18-inch switch will come one year after Formula 2 makes the move, with the junior category to run the larger sizes next season as part of the company’s preparations.

Pirelli has spent much of its 2019 test days honing its 2020 products but there remains doubt over whether the new tyres will be used, following criticism in Austin.

Drivers ran the 2020-specification C4 compound during practice but it was not favourably received, prompting suggestions that the 2019 tyres could be retained.

However, Pirelli expects conditions at next month’s post-race test in Abu Dhabi to be more representative, with practice in Austin having taken place in unseasonably cold weather.