BBS justifies safety upgrade for F1 18-inch wheels

Red Bull Racing RB19 wheel. 16.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Staley / XPB Images
© XPB 

Formula 1 has confirmed that it is introducing a stronger wheel rim design by supplier BBS for the new season, after a number of incidents last year in which tyres came off in high-energy impacts.

A tyre came off Alex Albon's Williams in an incident at the start of the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix, which was thrown into the air before hitting Daniel Ricciardo's AlphaTauri.

Even before then, the FIA had been sufficiently concerned to direct wheel rim supplier BBS to develop mark two designs to strengthen the parts, and these MK2 parts will now be rolled out as standard to all teams.

Some teams have been already been using them at race weekends, after a number of unspecified teams began to be supplied with the updates after the 2023 summer break.

Formula 1 moved to 18-inch rims at the start of 2022 as part of the most recent rules and regulations tweak, which come with a greater risk of sustaining critical damage in impacts than the old 13-inch versions.

“The background of the MK2 development is that compared to the era of 13-inch wheels, 18-inch wheels are subject to greater side impacts from the outer rim of the wheel," a spokesperson for BBS told

The statement went on to explain that this had resulted "in more frequent side impacts and resulting tyre loosening".

The new MK2 parts are stronger, but visually identical to the old ones. “MK2 has no change in spoke shape compared to MK1.

An errant wheel carcass from George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 in the pits. 18.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“Fatigue was not a problem with the original design, but the outer rim shape has been strengthened to better handle side impacts," BBS added. “The weight has only slightly increased, but the side impact resistance has more than doubled.”

“Paint properties have also improved," the statement continued. "This is largely due to the company's own plant completed at BBS MS.

“MK1 and MK2 are coated using the same coating engineering technology," BBC explained. "But by using the newest facility equipment, the company has been able to improve quality efficiency.”

Wheels in the paddock

There had been criticism from drivers that the larger wheel rims obstructed visibility from the cockpit.

There has also been concerns that the larger wheel rim resulted in a smaller sidewall on the Pirelli tyres, as well as increased weight on the chassis design as a whole.

Any solution to these issues could be overtaken by the next round of rules changes in 2026, which could see the size of wheel rims changed again, this time down to 16-inch designs.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter