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The looming F1 change Hamilton brands as 'dangerous'

A vital piece of Formula 1 equipment is set to be banned for 2024, with drivers and teams not so sure it is the correct way to go.

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To news overview © XPBimages

As Formula 1 embarks on its sustainability push to try and make Grand Prix racing more environmentally friendly, there are some 'easy wins' that are on the table.

This 'low-hanging fruit' is relatively straightforward, with one of the biggest ways identified to make F1 greener being the banning of tyre blankets for the 2024 season.

The general idea is that heating the tyres uses large amounts of electricity, with the power demand in the final minutes before the race starts seeing the biggest surge of the weekend.

With lower demands placed on circuit infrastructure, another positive knock-on effect is that it would place more emphasis on driver skill to be able to coax the rubber into the operating window – as those in Formula 2 and IndyCar do, with tyre blankets being banned in those series.

Extensive testing is underway

The final vote on whether to ban tyre blankets for 2024 is expected to come after the Silverstone tyre test following the British Grand Prix, the culmination of an extensive testing period from Pirelli.

It actually began in late 2022, when FP2 sessions in the United States and Mexico were dedicated 'tyre test' sessions where the run plans for the teams was directed for them.

Already in the campaign, the maximum temperature rubber could be heated to was 70 degrees Celsius over a three-hour window.

At Austin, the maximum temperature was dropped to 50 degrees, but this proved unfavourable with the drivers – and so in Mexico a week later, the 70 degrees was restored, but only for a two-hour window.

This came after Pirelli found that when heating the tyres, they would reach peak temperature after two hours and then plateau, leading to an effective hour of wasted energy.

On-track testing has also been taking place with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari recently completing one after the Spanish GP, with George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz all driving the proposed 2024 rubber without blankets.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

What do the drivers say?

World Champions Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are yet to be convinced about the potential banning of the tyre blankets.

Last year, Verstappen predicted there would "be a lot of crashes" while Hamilton labelled the proposal as "dangerous" when asked earlier this year of his opinion.

One of the drivers in that recent Barcelona test believes there is still also "one big question mark" needing to be answered.

"It is too early and I don't have all the answers for now," Leclerc explained in Montreal to media, including RacingNews365.com.

"The conditions that I had during the test was good, and it went well, but in lower temperatures, I don't know.

"I haven't tested these tyres in lower temperatures and that's where the big question mark is.

"It's very difficult to answer whether I will be happy [for the change], I would like to maybe test those tyres in different conditions and then see whether they are raceable in conditions.

"You've got four or five corners where it's very tricky [on the first lap out of the pits without blankets], when you are alone on track, it's not that much of a problem, but if you are racing other cars, it becomes very, very difficult to manage.

"But if it remains only four or five corners, even in low temperatures, then it is something that we can consider."

Fernando Alonso – the most experienced driver on the grid with 363 race starts as of Canada – also made an observation about the tyres.

"It depends on the tyre energy that you put on that specific circuit," he said.

"Barcelona will help the tyres, but some other [circuits], it will make things very difficult.

"At Indianapolis, I think you put a lot of energy in the tyres immediately and it is fine. At places like Monaco, or some others… I'm not a big fan of removing the blankets, to be honest, and I don't see the reason why."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

What happens next?

After the Silverstone test, a vote will be put forward, with the FIA, F1 itself and five of the 10 teams needing to be in agreement for the banning of tyre blankets to pass.

If this threshold is not met, the blankets won't be banned.

But Pirelli remain confident that the work, time and resource poured into the banning of tyre blankets will be successful.

"I'm confident that we will reach our targets because I know that from a tyre perspective, no blankets is a target that can be reached," chief F1 engineer Simone Berra recently explained.

"Obviously, we are not able to reach everywhere or control the circuit conditions. So we have to trust in what we have tested at the moment.

"What we obtain is in-line with with our development path, [then at] Silverstone we will finalise our proposal for FIA.

"In the last couple of years, we have worked really well with the introduction on the new Wet [tyre], we propose even the new Intermediate.

"There are good products that we've proposed to the FIA and the teams, so they have possibility for both to evaluate all the performance from the report."

Do you think tyre blankets should be banned in 2024? Let us know in the comments below and by voting in the poll!

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