Several F1 drivers have given their take on the sport's decision to ban tyre blankets from 2024 onwards, with some voicing concerns about the change. In recent years, Formula 1 has moved to gradually phase out the use of warmers. In 2021, teams were permitted to a maximum temperature of 100 degrees Celsius for the tyre warmers, and this came down to 70 degrees for 2022. That number is due to fall to 50 degrees in the 2023 season, before tyre blankets will be banned completely for the following year. Teams were recently given an insight into the forthcoming change during Pirelli tyre tests, which took place as part of Free Practice 2 sessions in the United States and Mexico. In light of this, drivers including Max Verstappen have shared their thoughts on how the rule change could have an impact.
Verstappen gives feedback on tyre test
With the tyre test in Austin using tyres warmed up to 50 degrees, Verstappen has suggested that it was not an experience he felt positively about. "It was not enjoyable," the Red Bull driver told media, including RacingNews365.com . "I drove on [tyres that were warmed to] 50 degrees, I think it was, and I almost spun in the pit lane already. "Of course, I also had the hardest compound, but I think there's a lot more to it. If we have the tyre blankets anyway, why don't we just use them to the fullest because they're there? "You either go just full blankets or zero, not middle way because we have them already. We don't need to buy new ones."
Why Verstappen expects 'crashes' from tyre blanket ban
With the tyre blanket ban incoming for 2024, Verstappen believes that racing with colder tyres could have quite an effect on the track. "I think we're going to have a lot of crashes. That I know already compared to what we have at the moment," the Dutchman explained. "But yeah, it's tough. Also, your tyre degradation is going to be completely different because your tyres are very cold. You are sliding around a lot in the first few laps. "Your tyre pressures are going to go through the roof, so your tyres are going to degrade a lot more. At the moment I don't really enjoy it, but a lot of drivers say the same and we have to find a solution to that. "Austin is still a track where you can easily switch on the tyres because of the high-speed cornering. But if you go to like a track like a street circuit or Monaco, [you could be] on half-half conditions. "I think [it] is going to take like half of the race before you have temperature on your tyres."
Magnussen concerned about safety
Kevin Magnussen has voiced concerns over safety in regards to the removal of tyre blankets. "I would really not like it," the Haas driver said of the upcoming change. "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]. "We tried at 50 [degrees, in Austin], and that's already very difficult. I think it's because they haven't driven these cars, they don't understand. "So yeah, I think there is a safety concern. I think it would be dangerous." With Magnussen having raced in sports cars during his season away from Formula 1 in 2021, the Dane acknowledges that other categories do not face the same issues with tyre temperatures as F1 currently does. "When [the tyre is] cold [in sports cars], it's super easy to warm up. It's not like that here," Magnussen added. "In sports cars last year, [we] never had the tyre warmers, never had an issue. 50 degrees here – big issue. So, no tyre warmers – very, very big issue."
Norris: No driver wants it
Lando Norris agreed with Verstappen's viewpoint that removing tyre blankets altogether could result in more on-track incidents. "This was like the best possible conditions to have these tyres: super-warm, hot track temp, high-speed first sector to get the temp in," the Briton said of the recent tyre test in Austin. "And they were not nice. [It was] so easy to front lock, so easy to rear lock, completely unpredictable. "Imagine going to a much colder race track, or if it’s a little bit damp or something. Everyone's going to shunt the car at some point. "No driver wants it, basically." Norris added that, while the plan is to gradually phase out the warmers, he believes that ultimately it is "unsafe", and has signalled the intention for further talks about the issue. "To drive a current era Formula 1 car, which is designed so specifically with all the aero and stuff, in a way not made to go out on cold tyres, it's not like a Formula 2 or Formula 3 car where you can just throw it about and do whatever," the McLaren driver continued. "It doesn’t really work like that so much. We'll have discussions about it, between all the drivers and the GPDA."
Bottas shows support for change
Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, has suggested that the planned rule change can work if it is ensured that "the tyres can cope with that". "With the current tyres, it would be impossible in some cases," the Finn commented. "If you do a pit-stop onto a Hard tyre without blankets nowadays, on a track like this [the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico], it would be definitely very risky and almost a safety concern. "Or on a street track, going out with a completely cold set of tyres as the tyre is more like plastic at that temperature. "But if the tyre changes and if it has been changed for that to work in a much lower range, then why not? "At the moment, and the tyre we tried in Austin, it couldn’t cope with the 50 degree blanket. It was really, really, really slippery in the beginning. "And that was Austin and that was warm. So on some tracks that would already be an issue." Bottas voiced his belief that it "should be possible" for Pirelli to create a tyre that has suitable characteristics to cope without tyre blankets, but admitted that the task is "not easy". "We'll see. I think everybody gave their feedback. I think most drivers feel not so keen, at least with these tyres," the Finn said. "But if the compound is different, if it works both cold and hot then why not?"
Pirelli working to find 'best solution'
Simone Berra, Chief Engineer at Pirelli, explained after the latest tyre test in Mexico that the manufacturer will continue to work on finding the "best solution" going forwards. "The idea is that decreasing [the blanket temperatures] to 50 degrees, but keeping three hours, [they] absorb more energy than keeping 70 degrees in two hours," Berra stated. "So from our point of view, as we are not changing all the compound range, I think it's better to stay at 70 degrees, as 2022, keeping the target for 2024 to completely remove the blankets. "This is something that we will investigate with the data that we had in Texas, with the data that we have here [in Mexico]. "We will evaluate the warm-up phase and we will show to the FIA, to the teams even, to everybody, the people that are involved, and we will take a decision for next year. But at the moment, that decision is not taken."