F1 teams likely to vote down 2024 plan to ban tyre warmers

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F1 teams are reportedly unlikely to support a ban on tyre warmers from the 2024 season if the plan is voted upon at the end of next month.

Pirelli received a mandate from the FIA to develop a product that would dispense with tyre warmers, or electric blankets, a move intended to ban the latter altogether as part of F1's efforts to reduce its energy bill in compliance with its target to become net-zero carbon by 2030.

Although Pirelli's development programme has unfolded with any major issues to report, several drivers have expressed their fear that powering out of the pitlane on cold tyres during a race would be a recipe for disaster.

Mercedes driver George Russell who sampled Pirelli's blanket-less tyres during a test conducted in Barcelona after the Spanish Grand Prix, voiced his concerns regarding a ban on tyre warmers.

'If I'm being totally honest, I don't think we as a sport are at a position yet to bring these tyres into a racing scenario," said the Briton.

"I would be very concerned for all the mechanics in the pit lane during a pitstop, I'd be very concerned for the out lap from a race in cold conditions.

"There will be crashes, I have no doubt about it. And I think there's a lot of work, expense, development going into these tyres. I feel like that could be put elsewhere."

A final test managed by Pirelli will take place after next month's British Grand Prix, after which, if the FIA is satisfied with the product developed by F1's tyre supplier based on its technical report, the teams will vote on the ban.

"I think we'll reserve judgment until we've done a test," said Red Bull’s Christian Horner when asked about which way the teams would likely sway.

"Daniel [Ricciardo] is going to drive the car at the test, and we will get the feedback from that running and then I'm sure Pirelli will make the right decision.

"I don't think it's what the drivers want. But my fear with these things is that when you think you're going to achieve something simplistically that would create better racing, that there will then be a whole lot of effort go into trying to heat tyres very quickly, on out-laps and so on, that could drive a lot more cost in.

"Everybody has tyre blankets, they do the job. I think what we should be looking at is sustainable ways of powering those tyre blankets as opposed to removing them."

Mercedes technical director James Allison echoed Russell's view that a ban would be premature.

"I'd say that the early look at running without blankets, it's not exactly a done deal to think that that's going to be a good thing next year," he said, quoted by Motorsport.com.

"I'd say there's plenty of challenges to make that work."

Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer acknowledged that there are other series that fare well without tyre warmers. But the American also argued in favour of keeping a tool that is part of the "essence" of F1.

"It’s really hard to know, really hard to be able to answer," he said. "I think we have a pretty decent show now. And, yeah, there's all sorts of considerations with the tyres.

"There's other series that don't have tyre blankets, but there does come a time where that essence of F1 - whatever that is - where maybe tyre blankets is part of it that we should keep."

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Pirelli responded to the concerns expressed by Russell, insisting that blanket-less tyres would not pose a safety risk. However, the company did admit that drivers would need to adapt the way they manage an out-lap with the new tyre.

Another factor that will come into play in the FIA's decision to support a vote on the ban of tyre warmers is the potential impact such a move would have on the racing.

For example, slower out-laps would inevitably undermine a driver's undercut strategy on race day. Pirelli says it's currently in the process of analysing through simulation work the effects of a ban on in-race strategies.

"The priority for us is safety first and we are not going to provide any tyre that is not safe," explained Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola.

"But the show is important and we need also in this analysis to understand what is the impact here, not just in warm-up, but in terms of level of degradation, peak of grip and these kinds of elements.

"We need to simulate, together with the FIA and F1, some races and race situations to see what are the strategies and so on. It may be that we discover that everybody is pushed towards a one-stop for many reasons.

"When we talk about strategy, it's a mix of factors. It is the degradation of the tyre, the time you lose in the pitlane, and how difficult it is to overtake, because obviously, traffic has a different influence on the strategy.

"We have always to consider the full package, as it is not just the tyre itself working on a car and on a circuit.

"I know drivers are not happy because this is a big change and they will have to change their approach," added the Italian.

"We know that the undercut is no more working so it will be a different situation.

"That's why for example, during our development tests, we are also monitoring the out-lap sectors, sector per sector, to understand if, at the very beginning of the run, what is the difference in terms of seconds per lap or seconds per sector.

"We are trying to collect as much data as we can to supply useful information to take the decision."

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