F1 Tyres on a road car: Do they work?

F1 Tyres on a road car: Do they work?

Yes, they can make you go faster. But at a cost…

It’s the ultimate fantasy for car modders isn’t it, taking bits off a racing car and bolting on to your road car? After all, if it’s good enough for motorsport, surely it’s more than good enough for anything else with four wheels?

That seems to be the mindset of the folks over at Driven Media. A few weeks ago they got hold of a set of Formula 1 Pirelli slick tyres and bolted them to a Caterham track car to see what would happen; now they’ve one-upped themselves by doing the same to an actual road car: a 2003 Toyota MR2 (or MR-S in Singapore) roadster.

It’s all in the name of trying to go faster – after all, F1 car’s super sticky tyres are what enable them to be the quickest vehicles around a racetrack. If swapping out your car’s road tyres to a set of extreme performance or trackday tyres can shave seconds off your lap time, then surely a set of F1 Ultrasoft slicks would carve whole chunks of time out?

The choice of car was simple: not only was the Toyota MR2 cheap (£1500) and mid-engined (like an F1 car), it’s also the only rear-wheel drive car with brakes small enough to fit behind the tiny 13-inch BBS F1 wheel rims.

Unsurprisingly, the experiment was not without its hiccups: F1 tyres are a LOT wider than road car wheels, so the MR2’s small wheelarches had to be cut away to allow the tyres to fit. Even so, they still got wedged in the fenders after the car spun and too much opposite lock was applied. Custom adapters also had to be fabricated to attach the F1 wheels’ centre-lock nut to the Toyota’s 4×100 bolt pattern wheel hubs. All in, the guys spent over 6 times more on making the project work than they did buying the car itself.

At least they learnt from previous experience. Racing slicks are slippery as ice when they’re cold, as was demonstrated last time out in the Caterham. This time, not only was the weather dry and sunny (or at least, as sunny as it’s possible to get in Britain), but they had a set of tyre warmers on hand too, bringing the tyres up to 100dec C putting them in optimal condition for their timed laps.

So, did all that effort pay off? Find out in their video:

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