We Investigate the Tires This Mercedes-AMG F1 Car Is Running

What are those!?

byJonathon KleinMay 19, 2022 3:46 PM
A magnifying glass close up of a F1 tire.
Getty x The Drive
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Early this morning, Motorsport tweeted out a photo of what appears to be George Russell's 2022 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 car being wheeled around on a peculiar set of tires. They're not slicks, rains, or inters. They're a set of passenger-car tires affixed to 18-inch rims that'd look more at home on Stuttgart's now-dead A-Class. Now, there's no need for race tires for the techs and engineers to just roll it around, but the type of tire being used intrigued me and demanded an early morning investigation to go with my coffee.

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Given this is Formula 1 and the championship's official tire sponsor is Pirelli, there was a good chance Mercedes was using the Italian brand's rubber. The tread pattern looked awfully similar to Pirelli's performance tire pattern, meaning it lacked the water-wicking sipes of an all-season tire and the chunky treads of something meant for off-roading (as if that was ever a possibility). I was leaning toward Pirelli's P Zero tires, but it wasn't that straightforward.

Scrolling through sites such as Tire Rack and Discount Tire and eventually through Google Images, not one damn tread pattern would line up with what I could see on the Mercedes. Not a single one. They were all slightly off. I was ready to throw my laptop at the wall just as Toto threw his headset during last season's finale.

Suddenly, on page three or four of Google Images, a bright light appeared in the form of a somewhat blurry image of Pirelli's P Zero PZ4 Luxury tire. It had all the right sipes and treads. It looked right! It was just ... upside down? Wait, did Mercedes-AMG Petronas, one of the most winning Formula 1 teams in all of Formula 1 history actually install the tires the wrong way? I mean, the team hasn't exactly, er, performed as expected this year, so maybe. With a quick rotation of a clearer image and a side-by-side comparison, it was clear. These are the tires Mercedes installed to wheel around its multimillion-dollar race car. And you, too, can install them on your own car and pretend you're George Russell or Lewis Hamilton running around the pits—with the engine off.

Sorry, Bono. Not only are your tires wrong, but they're backward. Maybe check on that and see if that helps Lewis and George this weekend.