Max Verstappen is your new Formula One world champion, Lewis Hamilton has officially been knighted by the Prince of Wales, and most of the F1 fraternity is taking a much-needed break after completing the longest-ever season in the sport’s history. But not everyone is relaxing at the beach, however, as several teams remained in Abu Dhabi to take part in the Pirelli tire test, where teams explored several solutions to make the new larger wheels more aerodynamic. None cooler than Mercedes’, of course, whose wheel covers look like… steelies.
It was George Russell who was on testing duty for the Silver Arrows and took to lapping the famous circuit in the 2019 championship-winning car with 2022-regulation wheels and tires. The Brit clocked 131 laps while testing several wheel variations, ranging from regular wheels to wheel covers and even bigger wheel covers—the ones that look like steelies.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing if Mercedes will run these hilarious-looking things next year—at least not at this moment—but I think it’d look pretty awesome. There’s something about the most technologically advanced car in the world rolling on what looks like the most basic wheels in the world that’s just hilarious. And for that, we thank you, Mercedes.
Other teams were busy testing out their own wheel cover solutions, including Ferrari, which tested an aero wheel cover fitting of the Dark Knight’s Tumbler. It looks like a heavy piece of hardware, but I’m sure in reality it is quite light, however. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo can also be seen testing rear wheel covers (no fronts), with a similar design as the ones on the Ferrari.
As you may already know, F1 is attempting to hit a sort of “reset” button in 2022 by introducing a slew of regulation changes. These will target everything from budget caps, aerodynamics, power units, fuel type, safety equipment, and last but not least, wheels and tires. Wheels will grow to a whopping 18 inches next year and reduce the amount of tire sidewall—which may not sound like a lot in terms of normal cars—but it’s a drastic departure from the current 13-inch wheels with large sidewalls.
These changes to the wheels and tires alone will alter handling behavior drastically, which is why Pirelli and F1 teams are already testing merely days after the heart-attack-inducing F1 finale in Abu Dhabi. This isn’t even the first test organized to test new tire compounds and wheel sizes, with various teams and drivers already getting a shot at this earlier in the season—including Hamilton in Imola.
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