Teams remain cool on blanket ban


Ahead of the forthcoming WMSC meeting which will decide whether tyre warmers are to be banned next season the teams remain unconvinced.

Wet tyres that do not require pre-heating were first trialled at Monaco, and while Pirelli said that first impressions of their performance seemed in line with expectations, the Italian manufacturer admitted that in reality the demands of the Principality could not be compared with other tracks.

However, it is dry blanket-less tyres, first tried in Bahrain, that are really causing concern, and after running them in the post-Barcelona test Mercedes and Ferrari's drivers admitted their continuing doubt.

This week's two day test at Silverstone has seen further testing of the tyres, with a final test planned ahead of the next World Motor Sport Council meeting.

"It's not the final test because we have other tests planned for the rest of the season," said Mario Isola, of the Silverstone trial, "but after this test the F1 Commission is going to decide if, for 2024, we ban the blankets or not.

"What we are doing is that, after the test, we are doing a report: an executive summary for team principals so they don't have to read 40 or 50 pages, with a summary of the test. Obviously we will also supply all the data to the tyre expert of the team. So it's not just the summary for them.

"And then I hope they are going to decide based on the data. If we want to continue for another year with blankets, we will do that."

Asked about the data already acquired and whether the sport is ready, Isola said: "It depends on what you mean with 'ready'.

"The new tyres, or the tyres that work without blankets are different than current tyres. So you cannot expect that you have a warm-up phase that is exactly the same as the warm-up phase of the current tyres that are heated at 70 degrees C.

"We didn't have the possibility to test the tyres in all of the conditions - because we don't have cold conditions at the moment, and when we tested in cold conditions - I remember at one test with Mercedes, for example, in Paul Ricard - it was at the beginning of the season with the compounds that are not the final version of the compounds. So we were in the early stages of the development.

"The point is that we have to accept that, when tyres are running without blankets, they are different. We need to understand which is the impact on race strategies - because obviously we don't want the show to be damaged by the new situation - but the direction that we agreed with all the F1 stakeholders is to reduce the impact on the environment and make the sport more sustainable, and this is what we are doing."

At Ferrari, Frederic Vasseur is unconvinced.

"It's a bit too early because we didn't receive the report," he said. I think that in the normal circumstances that we did the test - I think it was Bahrain - and it went pretty well.

"But the concern is not this one: the concern is that when we go on the low track in energy, and you will have cold conditions, in the extreme conditions - for example, Las Vegas, if you go there, you race at night and it's 4 degrees C, what could be the outcome of this?

"I think on 95 per cent of the conditions, it will be OK and they are doing a good job and honestly I think a couple of teams did the test and it went pretty well - but we are not able to anticipate what could be the situation in the extreme conditions - and this we have to wait for the report from Mr Pirelli."

"Taking team-specific thoughts out of it, at the end, we want a good show and we need to listen to the drivers," said Toto Wolff, "not to one but everyone and see what their opinion is on tyres without warmers.

"I tend to agree with the drivers that, why are we making experiments that can potentially create a safety hazard," he added. "We've seen in WEC how long that can go, in Spa, so what is it we want to achieve?

"Is that we like not spending energy on tyre heaters for wet tyres that we use that we don't use at all during the year, very little, only.

"Risk and rewards," he added. "My understanding in my life is that risk and reward need to be well measured, and I don't think there is a great reward on making experiments in Formula 1 cars with drivers there for the fun of it."

That sounds an awful lot like a no then.

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Published: 13/07/2023
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