Can Putting F1 Tires on a Normal Car Make it Faster?

When it comes to squeezing the most performance out of your car, the tires on it can make all the difference. And when it comes to performance tires, the stickier they are the better. So what would happen if you slapped a set of F1 tires onto a normal road car? The folks at Driven Media recently found out that they do make a faster, but not without a lot of work and money.

Driven Media used a Toyota MR2 as the test car

Toyota MR2 with F1 tires on a race track
Toyota MR2 with F1 tires on a race track | Driven Media, YouTube

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The crew at Driven Media, an automotive YouTube channel, conducted their interesting test using a normal road-going Toyota MR2 Spyder. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the MR2 Spyder is a rear-wheel-drive roadster with 130 hp and small brakes. That last point is important as the crew needed a car with small enough brakes to fit the small 13-inch F1 wheels onto the hubs.

But before fitting the larger, stickier rubber onto the car, they ran the MR2 around their test track to get a benchmark time. We’re not sure what kind of specific tires were on the car, however, it did click of a time of 1:38.3 on the track.

Fitting the F1 tires onto the car took some work

As you can imagine, getting the large donut-like F1 tires onto the car took some work. The Driven Media crew had to get a little crafty:

“Putting F1 tires on a normal car isn’t easy and there’s a good reason this hasn’t been done before. All I had to do was buy a car with really small brakes, get some hubs custom machined from billet steel, find a workshop, do some slight modifications to the bodywork, buy some F1 tires, and hire a local Richard (mechanic) to do it all for me,” said Scott Mansel of Driven Media.

Those “slight modifications” to the bodywork meant hammering and cutting the fenders to make the large tires fit in the wheel wells. Funny enough, the first try didn’t work so well as one of the tires got stuck in the well the first time they took the car around the track. No problem, they just cut off more of the fender well.

The third time around the track was a charm

Driven Media crew puts F1 tires onto the Toyota MR2
The Driven Media crew puts F1 tires onto the Toyota MR2. | Driven Media, YouTube

After taking the car around the track a couple of times, the crew found out that they needed to warm up the tires to make them sticky. When the tires were cold, the car performed worse than it did with stock tires. So they used tire warmers to heat the rubber up to the required 100 degrees.

Once the tires were up to the proper temperature, they ran the car around their test track once again. Surprisingly, the car made it around quickly to the tune of 1:35.1, which was over three seconds quicker than with the normal tires.

How much does it cost to put F1 tires on a normal car?

According to the video, a set of F1 tires costs around “2,000 pounds” or around $2,472. But that’s not all. The custom hubs cost around another $2,472, the labor cost around $618, and the tire warmers were another $6,182. That’s around $11,744 all in, which isn’t really worth three seconds off of a lap time on any race track, in our opinion.

In fact, you could probably spend a fraction of that cost on regular-sized race slicks or ultra-high-performance tires and get close to the same results. Ultimately, yes, F1 tires do make a normal car faster, but it’s not really worth it.  

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