Contact Patch(Lea en español)
Picture yourself driving along the highway, (just slightly over the limit, well, more than a little) and the sports news comes on the radio. The announcer mentions Shaquille O'Neal. Now, that guy has pretty big feet, but does he put more rubber on the ground with his Reeboks than your tires put on the road? Hard to believe, but Shaq puts more rubber down than most cars do. The contact patch of most tires is about the size of your hand and has to handle a lot more weight and force than those big Reeboks do.
The shape of a tire's contact patch or "footprint" greatly influences its performance and is dependent on its profile or "aspect ratio". Low profile tires (most performance tires) have a short and wide contact patch that is effective in converting the driver's input into very responsive handling, cornering stability and traction...especially on dry roads.
High profile tires (light truck and most passenger tires) have a long and narrow contact patch which helps to provide predictable handling, a smooth ride and especially good traction in snow.