Though discussions about the 2017 regulations have only gone as far as hints and teasers, it was down to Pirelli this weekend to give a first physical glimpse at what the future of the sport might well look like as it pulled the wraps some rather tasty rubber in Monaco.

Whilst tyres - particularly out of context on a dummy car - aren't normally immediately striking, the substantial growth in width, especially at the rear, certainly drew some admiring and misty-eyed glances.

Even so, whilst it has raised hopes that a more striking and aggressive-looking F1 is around the corner, it has now also become clear just how little time teams will have to design their cars around them.

The tyres shown off in Monaco were simply prototypes and quite some way off the final specification, and this means that the teams do not yet have adequate data, the final size, shape and even the weights are still uncertain.

"We are still developing the first prototypes, the front is currently 8.5kg and will increase by 1kg," said Mario Isola told Crash.net. "I am talking only about the tyres because then there is an additional weight because of the bigger rim. The rear tyre is now 10kg and it will be around 11.5kg, depending on the final version of the prototype."

The shape of the tyre, especially the shoulder, and sidewall shape under load has a major impact on the airflow around the car and teams will want to get this confirmed as early as possible, but Pirelli is still quite some way from being able to supply that information.

"We are testing some different shapes, we will try some different shapes, we need to find a good compromise for high and low speed cornering. We start testing in August and will test until the end of November" he added.

Pirelli makes special wind tunnel tyres for all of the teams and these 60 per cent scale versions of the real thing not only replicate the overall shape of the full size version when sitting still, they also replicate the deformation and bulge seen on a real car running on a real track.

"The teams got the first wind tunnel tyres two months ago but these really were just a first prototype to make early calculation, as the testing goes on and on we will give them updated tyres." Isola continues. Those updated wind tunnel tyres can only appear after testing has commenced this summer."

Some of this will start to become clearer in August when testing of the new tyres will begin. Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes will all modify 2015 cars to approximate the 2017 package and to start to gather data for themselves and Pirelli. Williams and Force India may also take part.

F1 teams have already faced disruption to their aerodynamic development due to the ongoing uncertainty over the cockpit protection system (Aeroscreen or more likely the 'Halo') and now it is becoming clear that accurate tyre data will not be available any time soon either.

The lack of information about the tyre will have fairly major implications for the engineers designing the suspension layout for the new cars as well. On a Formula 1 car the sidewall of the tyre is an important part of the suspension, so understanding its characteristics is crucial, how stiff it is, how does it deform under load and how does its change with temperature and wear. One thing that is known is that the new tyres will create a lot more drag than the old ones as they have a larger frontal area.

The delay is largely the result of the very late publication of 2017 Technical regulations - which many expected to be confirmed before the Russian Grand Prix - , while wider tyres were long expected it took a significant time to get the exact sizes confirmed.

Now this has happened, Pirelli has been able to create the prototype tyres seen at Monaco, but the lack of a test car means Pirelli will have to wait many weeks to see how they work on track, and the teams will have to wait even longer to optimise their cars around them.

by Max YamabikoAdditional reporting by Ollie BarstowMax Yamabiko will bring you a closer look at the technical side of motorsport throughout 2016, from the latest developments and solutions employed to keep you ahead of the game

 

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