F1 drivers differ over tyre warmer ban some expect will cause “a lot of crashes”

2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s plan to ban teams from using tyre warmers has prompted warnings from some, while others believe it could work.

The series reduced the maximum operating temperature of tyre blankets to 70C this year in its first step towards phasing out the heaters by 2024.

During second practice for the United States Grand Prix last weekend drivers had the first chance to test Pirelli’s prototype rubber for 2023, when the maximum temperature will fall to 50C. Max Verstappen was among those who was concerned by what he discovered.

“It was not enjoyable,” said the world champion. “I drove on 50 degrees and I almost spun in the pit lane already. Of course, I also had the hardest compound.”

He believes that if tyre blankets are banned entirely in 2024, and drivers have to leave their garage with tyres at ambient temperatures, “then I think we’re going to have a lot of crashes.”

“Also your tyre degradation is going to be completely different because your tyres are very cold, you’re sliding around a lot in the first few laps, your tyre pressures are going to go through the roof,” he added. “So your tyres are going to deg[rade] a lot more.”

He pointed out drivers will also face much more challenging conditions for tyre warm-up than they encountered at the Circuit of the Americas, where conditions are usually war, and the circuit has many quick corners.

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“That’s a track where you can easily switch on the tyres because of the high-speed cornering,” said Verstappen. “But if you go to like a track like a street circuit, Monaco, can you imagine you’re in like half-half [wet-dry] conditions? I think it’s going to take like half of the race before you have temperature in your tyres.”

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Circuit of the Americas, 2022
Drivers tested prototype tyres in Austin
Although other series such as Formula 2 and IndyCar do not allow the use of tyre blankets, Verstappen pointed out those cars “have a lot less power” compared to F1 machines.

“I think these cars are very heavy as well,” he added. “I’ve tried it and it’s just really almost impossible to drive.

“In my private time I drive a GT3 car with no tyre blankets but these cars are a lot more forgiving and it’s a lot easier to manage than these kind of cars. Because [here] if you go on power a little bit too much and with the power you have from the engine, it can be a big crash.”

F1 will conduct another test of the 2023 rubber and blanket temperatures at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Friday. “It’s going to be a nice drift show,” Verstappen predicted.

Kevin Magnussen, who has recent experience of driving F1, IndyCars and sports cars, echoed Verstappen’s views, saying he “would really not like” to drive in F1 without tyre blankets.

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“I don’t think Pirelli, the FIA and Formula 1 really understand how difficult it is to get heat into these tyres even when they come out at 70 [degrees],” he said. “Trying it at 50, that’s already very difficult.

Tyre blankets are due to be banned in 2024
“I think because they haven’t driven these cars, they don’t understand. So I think there is a safety concern, I think it will be dangerous.”

Engineering a tyre which can work at low temperatures as well as high ones is difficult due to the “very high loads on these cars because of all the downforce,” Mganussen explained. “So the tyre has to be pretty stiff. So when it’s cold, it’s bloody hard. Just like ice.”

Sports cars and their tyres are better suited to lower working ranges, he said. “When it’s cold, it’s super-easy to warm up. It’s not like that here.

“In sports cars last year without any tyre warmers, never an issue.” He thinks cutting F1’s blanket temperatures to 50C next year will be a “big issue.”

“So no tyre warmers, very big issue.”

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However some drivers believe F1 can develop tyres which they will be able to use without warms.

“With the current tyres, it would be impossible in some cases,” said Valtteri Bottas. “Like if you do a pit stop onto a hard tyre without blankets nowadays on, for example, a track like this, it would be definitely very risky and almost like a safety concern. Or on a street track going out with a completely cold set of tyres, the tyre just is more like plastic at that temperature.

“But if the tyre changes and if it’s been changed for that to work in much, much lower ranges, then why not?”

Bottas believes it “should be possible” but admits “for sure it’s not easy” to create a tyre which works in a much wider range of temperatures. “If you want to have a tyre that works in 20 degrees on the surface or the carcass and at the same time the same tyre has to work in 100 degrees, I’m not a scientist, but I think it’s more difficult than having that certain range. So we’ll see.

“I think everybody gave their feedback. I think most drivers were, I feel, not so keen, at least with these tyres, to be so low with the blankets. But if the compound is different, if it works, both cold and hot, then why not?”

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2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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30 comments on “F1 drivers differ over tyre warmer ban some expect will cause “a lot of crashes””

  1. So the tyres much be all several compounds softer but able to go on longer. 5 C – 110C i think should help a lot.

    1. But do we want 4 or 5 10/15 lap sprints and all those pitstops? How will it impact racing and what is the (environmental) cost of tyres that are so soft?
      I don’t believe the problems are worth it… 70 degrees or maybe 60 and see what happens fine… But no blankets is almost impossible to have a good race..

      1. But no blankets is almost impossible to have a good race..

        I disagree completely.
        If anything, it’ll make it more interesting, both for the viewers and for the competitors.

        And if there are any F1 drivers who find it impossible to put on a good race, they’ll soon be able to find a nice comfy seat in another racing series.

        1. Absolutely. We don’t have enough crashes in F1, and almost no fatalities in 20 years.

          The drivers obviously have it too easy.

          /rolls eyes

  2. Best drivers in the world – I’m sure they’ll adapt.

    1. Best drivers in the world – and Lance Stroll

    2. Yep. F1 drivers are so good they can completely ignore the laws of physics.

      1. Did I say it would make no difference, no, I said they would adapt. Bless your overworked braincell.

  3. Just get rid of them. Every other series manages it.
    F1 doesn’t need tyre warmers, nor do they need the crazy amounts of downforce they produce now. They’ve got the weight, so that’s not an argument, and other series create similar amounts of power and torque…

    This change puts more focus on the driver and their ability to adapt and react to the changing tyre performance.
    This, right here – the human performance element – is the sporting element of F1 that has been progressively minimised over the last few decades.

    1. Weight and downforce aren’t the same thing. In fact in fast corners which allow downforce to work; they almost work compeltely different one exerting lateral and the other longitudinal.

      I am completely against getting rid of them- if Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor racing; I want to see the optimum compound on its optimum temperature. We are talkinga about precision and technical feats to operate a car that no other series or teams can do anywhere else.

      If you watch other series like DTM, Indycar etc, the lap after the pitstop is almost an obstacle to make the racing closer and creates trivial excitement.

      1. Weight and downforce aren’t the same thing.

        Which is why I listed them separately.
        BTW, one force is acting laterally, and the other is vertically – not longitudinally. Except under braking and acceleration, of course, which can then encompass all 3 axes.

        If F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing (which I dispute strongly) then it should stand without such ‘gimmicks’ (as other people like to call everything they don’t like about F1) as tyre warmers.
        The tyres are fine once they are warm, and the drivers should be capable of getting the tyres to that state (when the tyres are designed to work that way, obviously. Which they will be when tyre warmers are eradicated).

        I do watch many series that don’t use tyre warmers, and the first lap after the pitstop is usually the best and most interesting one of the lot, because it is the most challenging.
        That’s when the skills of the competitor can shine through best.

        It seems to me that you would prefer to watch a series without human drivers involved. Only machines.
        Just a technical competition, but not at all a sport.

        1. No, I want to see the best drivers in the world in the most advanced race cars in the world fighting it out for the title of “World Champion”.

          Doing things “for the show” or “to make things harder for the driver” is antithetical to that concept.

  4. It’s all fine saying “the tyres will need to be changed to work at lower temperatures” but look at the name on the side of the tyres. Pirelli. Think they’re capable of this? We’ve finally got tyres that don’t get talked about every race – I’m far from convinced that they have the skills to make this work.

    1. Pirelli. Think they’re capable of this?

      Is there any evidence to suggest they aren’t?

      Of all tyre suppliers in F1’s history, they are the only one who’s ever had incomplete control over the tyres they produce.
      Separately to that aspect, Pirelli have shown that they can produce very decent racing tyres in comparison to – and when in direct competition with – other manufacturers.

      F1’s tyre problem is not Pirelli.
      If anything, the opposite is true. Pirelli’s association with F1 has stained their image, at least among many people who simply don’t understand how F1 works.

      1. I agree entirely with @petebaldwin. We’ve had over a decade of evidence of Pirelli’s inadequacy. Get Michelin back into F1. They’ve performed miracles making a Formula E tyre that can run virtually all of practice, qualifying and race on a single set of a single compound which without tyre warmers can support a heavy car in any ambient temperature the international calendar throws at it, and it even works in the rain. It’s an amazing achievement. Formula E made a monumental error switching from Michelin to Hancook for next season.

        1. We’ve had over a decade of evidence of Pirelli

          following the target letter set out by F1 management.

          Given that Michelin haven’t produced tyres for F1 since 2006, what makes you think they can do ‘better’ than Pirelli?
          Given that they’d still need to work under the conditions of F1’s target letter, of course….

          Formula E cars are far easier to make tyres for. The combination of car and circuits put far less stress and entirely different demands on the tyre.
          This may come as a surprise to you, but Pirelli (and any other suitably equipped supplier) could relatively easily make a tyre for F1 that is also as durable and versatile – it would just be a lot slower than the current F1 tyre range.
          And then lots of people would complain about how slow F1 cars are on those tyres, and how the races are all boring because there’s no strategy as nobody ever needs to change tyres because they never wear out.

          How do you know Formula E made an error by switching manufacturer? You haven’t even seen them yet.
          Different isn’t always bad, anyway…. Unless change itself is what you oppose.

          Is this also a good time to remember that Hankook put in a tender for F1 last time? And F1 chose to continue with Pirelli…

      2. The evidence to suggest that they aren’t very good at making tyres is based on watching F1 for the previous 10 years. They still haven’t managed to make a wet tyre that works correctly and it’s taken them a ridiculous amount of time to create slicks that aren’t universally hated by the drivers.

        Perhaps, if asked, they can make excellent tyres that can be pushed from cool temperatures and can give decent performance but that’d mean completely starting from scratch in terms of the whole concept of the tyre. I haven’t seen any suggestions that the FIA have agreed to this. We’ll see what happens….

        1. Only 10 years, eh? Keep at it. Not sure who or what you’ve been comparing Pirelli’s F1 tyres with during that time, but whatever.

          Pirelli’s wet tyres work fine – the cars simply aren’t allowed on the track in the conditions they are designed for due to lack of visibility from the spray. Something that no tyre can do anything about. The technical regulations can, though – but F1 is unwilling to compromise speed, design or image for this.

          F1’s tyre supplier isn’t there to create tyres that competitors ‘like’ – they are there to create tyres that are mechanically and chemically competent to meet the technical requirements of the racing series. One of those requirements is to make a range of specific tyres to F1’s target letter, which includes thermal and physical degradation characteristics.
          Complicating that is that the cars are never the same from one year to the next, so the tyres are constantly being developed for cars that don’t yet exist. Cars that are deliberately designed to be able to extract and exceed the tyre’s maximum capabilities…

          Perhaps, if asked, they can make excellent tyres that can be pushed from cool temperatures and can give decent performance but that’d mean completely starting from scratch in terms of the whole concept of the tyre.

          That’s exactly what they are doing – they are just doing it in phases over multiple seasons. No doubt you’ve noticed that tyre blanket temperatures are decreasing year on year with each new tyre….

          1. Well, I’ve been comparing Pirelli’s F1 rubber previous F1 suppliers, and with Indycar (Firestone) and Formula E (Michelin).
            You’re right that Formula E is a lot easier to engineer for as it’s slower, but even so what they achieved is impressive.
            In Indycar qualifying, the drivers can pound round flat out for several successive laps, going sideways on multiple corners and still setting quick laps despite going sideways. In F1, if you’re sideways, if you’re lucky, you’re slow, and if not you’re spinning off.
            In F1 to manage tyre temperature they have to virtually park their cars on track in qualifying in amongst those actually going fast, which is incredibly dangerous.
            In F1 they talk about having to take it easy at the beginning of a tyre set’s only lap, so as to save its life for the last part of that lap…
            Pirelli never seemed to distinguish between their weird thermal degredation and normal racing tyres physical degration which is much more linear and understandable.
            I remember when Webber left F1 to move to endurance racing at Le Mans, and raved about how you could repeatedly rag those cars on the limit rather than constantly back off and cruise round like in F1 ‘racing’. For him to go to ‘endurance’ racing and say that, it was really saying something.

  5. This will just force everyone onto a 1 stop race.
    The tires will lose the drivers so much time that nobody is going to want to box more than once.

    Pathetic

    1. 1 stop at the last lap, finish in pitstop.

      1. Not allowed since MSH did that already..

  6. Tyre warmers help the undercut whereas no tyre warmer help the overcut. It seems to me that undercuts produce more exciting racing because whoever undercuts has to do extra laps at the end of the race on that tyre.

    1. It works equally both ways.
      Overcutting tends to result in drivers using their defensive skills more while the tyres are still cold, but they will be quicker toward the end of the stint.

  7. Looking forward to next season outrage when Red Bull wins every race via loophole that lets them use tire quilts.

  8. F1 drivers differ over tyre warmer ban some expect will cause “a lot of crashes”

    I suppose that for the sake of argument Bottas’s quote was added, though he’s not saying that much different from what Kmag and Verstappen say: “But if the tyre changes and if it’s been changed for that to work in much, much lower ranges, then why not?”.

  9. Tyre warmers have to be banned because of the tyre pressure tricks teams still get away with, some more than others.

    1. They can’t do that anymore. Pre-this year, yes. Not now.

  10. …Circuit of the Americas, where conditions are usually war

    They’re gonna need halftracks for that if that’s the case :P

  11. I imagine this will result in more drivers starting on hard tyres. It’ll be easier to get the softs up to temperature and the overcut will be stronger so you’ll want to have the ability to run for longer. That’ll mean we’ll have the cars at their heaviest at the start of the race with the hardest tyres that they will be trying to protect… The half of the race is going to be really pedestrian! Then we’ll get to the pitstops where no-one will want to pit first so they’ll just spend a period of the race on really old tyres waiting for a safety car.

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