Pirelli says it would like for Formula 1 to move toward larger tire sizes in the future, but not before the major rules overhaul scheduled for 2013, and that it could make the change in gradual stages.
With F1's 13-in., tires no longer a common size for road car tire manufacturer, a possible switch to 18-in. wheels was much discussed during the debate over who will replace Bridgestone. Pirelli has committed to remaining at current tire sizes for now, but the company's managing director Francesco Gori hopes teams might agree to increasing the size eventually.
"We have had quite detailed discussions with teams," he told AUTOSPORT. "Of course, not for the 2011 season or 2012, but possibly, possibly starting from 2013, to progressively move to bigger diameters – maybe step by step and not suddenly to 18in., because that's going to be impossible to redesign the car. But you may have 15in. wheels or different wheels front and rear. We will offer some alternatives to the teams.
"But I'm sure there is the room to develop better shape tires in line with current developments. We are leading in the supercar business, and today you don't go below 19 and 20 inches there."
Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery added that the 2013 regulations overhaul seemed an ideal opportunity to rethink tire rules if teams were willing.
"It is obviously agreed between ourselves and the FOTA technical working group," he said. "The teams are expecting the changes in bead sizes, and with the big changes in 2013 to the car regs, with the focus on ecology, energy retention, KERS and small-liter turbos that will be an opportunity for us to showcase ecological or even technological solutions.
"But that is something that we will do with the teams. They want our input because they appreciate that the 13-inch tires have been around 20-25 years and maybe it's time for them to make a change."
Full Q & A with Pirelli's managing director