In October 2014, Michelin and Renault Sport announced their intention to join forces to develop 18 and 17-inch diameter tyres for the Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula Renault 2.0 single-seater racing cars that star in the WSR (World Series by Renault).
The decision came after a positive test at Jerez, Spain, which encouraged the two partners to continue down this road. Today, following further testing, Renault Sport and Michelin have concluded that the replacement of the 13-inch tyres that currently equip the WSR’s FR3.5 and FR2.0 cars by 18- and 17-inch tyres respectively is a first class solution to make driving more enjoyable still for competitors. Benefits include enhanced performance during transient phases. Tyres with smaller sidewalls produce less yaw, greater precision and improved steering response. At the same time, the change marks a big step forward in terms of the opportunities it offers when it comes to carrying over technology to Michelin road tyres.
Ever since the pioneering days of the sport, motor racing has been seen as an important testing and development laboratory for technologies that go on to be used for road car tyres. Michelin has long adhered to this philosophy and uses all the disciplines in which it is active to collect technical data that its Research and Development experts can dial into new, ever better-performing and increasingly efficient tyres.
The World Series by Renault features two single-seater championships which are reputed for revealing talented upcoming drivers. They are the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, which is open to drivers as young as 16 years old, and the Formula Renault 3.5 Series which stands out as a benchmark series for the grooming of future Formula 1 drivers.
The conclusions of Michelin and Renault Sport with regard to the use of bigger-diameter tyres eloquently illustrate the innovative philosophy that drives the two companies who, as leaders in their respective fields, have their sights set firmly on the future.
Testing resulted in the following sizes for the future being selected:
FR3.5 (front slick) 26/64×13 –> 28/71×18
FR3.5 (rear slick) 32/66×13 –> 33/71×18
FR2.0 (front slick) 20/54×13 –> 20/61×17
FR2.0 (rear slick) 24/57×13 –> 24/64×17
“There are solid grounds from both the technical and sporting viewpoints for switching to 18- and 17-inch tyres,” notes Philippe Mussati, Manager of Michelin Motorsport’s Customer Competition Department. “Our tests reveal that the drivers benefit from more precise performance, while the change also provides the teams with additional scope for set-up work which would consequently have a far bigger influence on results. On top of all this, bigger tyres also enhance the cars’ look.