Next F1 ban: tyre warmers?

As if Pirelli haven’t been the talk of the paddock of the season, a new F1 revelation has hit the news: a proposed ban on tyre warmers.

Photo: Sutton Images for ESPN F1

AUTOSPORT reports that the majority of drivers is in support of the move, as a cost-saving measure. The transport and maintenance of the generators and tyre-blankets is an expense of around £300.000, according to McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh. However, as the sport stands today, tyre warmers are somewhat of a safety measure: the warmer the tyre is (in dry conditions) the better it sticks to the track, providing better grip for the car at high speeds and therefore overall a better car management by the driver.

Rubens Barrichello, who drove in Formula One for 18 years, now in IndyCar, said in an interview with US editor Mark Glendenning: “You couldn’t do it with the current F1 tyres, there would just be crashes everywhere. But Pirelli do it in other series already, so that’s not a problem.”

Some teams are against the change, among them – surprise, surpirse – Michael Schumacher, who claims that racing without tyre-warmers might be doable in racing categories of lower power, but not in Formula One. On the other hand, it is the younger drivers who have just entered the sport from those other categories, such as GP2 or Indycar, where there is no use of tyre-warmers, that are in support of the ban and believe the change would be beneficial to the sport overall. Romain Grosjean, who has already been scoring  podium points for Lotus in his maiden season thanks to the good tyre management, said for AUTOSPORT: “In the worst case, it means one out lap and one timed lap to get the tyres warm… And if Pirelli does a good job like it has with the GP2 tyre then it is not the end of the world.”

Also F1 veterans give the move thumbs up, with Jenson Button being quoted saying: “If the tyre is better suited to not having blankets I think it is a good thing.”

Paul Hembery, motorsport director at Pirelli, agrees that it is possible to adjust the tyres to face the new regulations without affecting the cars’ performance in a high degree. The new compounds could be introduced for the 2014 season, however, the sport needs to agree now whether this is what they want to do, says Hembery.

However, Mercedes’ team principal, Ross Brawn, doesn’t believe the ban would save money, pointing out that much more would have to be spent on Pirelli testing of a new, softer compound, and reflected that an accident following the change would mean that “any cost saving for the season would be wiped out”.

Read the full AUTOSPORT report, F1 open to tyre-warmer ban, in the June 28 issue or on their website.

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