The possibility of LED wheel covers being used in Formula 1 (F1) to offer fans additional information has been under consideration for some time. In fact, McLaren trialled the LED light system on their cars at the Abu Dhabi post-season test in 2021, with hopes that it could be incorporated to help fans better understand what was happening during the sessions or the race. Pirelli‘s head of car racing and F1, Mario Isola, had even suggested that the range of information that could be displayed through the LEDs was limitless. Speaking at the time, Isola said that the position, logos, and lap times could all be displayed with ease, thanks to the available technology.
However, hopes of introducing the LED systems have been dashed following the latest F1 Commission meeting. In amended technical regulations for 2024, the rule that proposed the potential introduction of the LED systems has been deleted, making it clear that they will not be introduced anytime soon. The original Article 18.18 had suggested that “Depending on the availability of the necessary technology, and in order to provide visual information to the spectators, the FIA may request each of the four wheel covers described in Article 3.13.7 to be fitted with a rotating LED display panel.”
One of the major concerns about the LED systems for F1 cars was a potential increase in weight in a sensitive area of the vehicle. Teams were already struggling to get their cars below the minimum weight limit, and adding further weight with the LED systems was not a welcome suggestion. The switch from 13-inch to 18-inch wheels had already led to an increase in weight, with fronts being 2.5kg heavier and rears 3kg up. Such concerns had also been discussed during the F1 Commission meeting.
Despite the interest in the LED wheel covers idea, its implementation would have to wait for a future date. The good news for fans though is that they can still look forward to innovations that continue to expand the F1 technology landscape in other areas.