Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022

Perez warns plan to lower tyre blanket temperatures will ‘put drivers at risk’

2022 Singapore Grand Prix

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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is concerned the FIA’s plans to further reduce maximum tyre blanket temperatures in Formula 1 next year could compromise safety.

A reduction in temperatures for the heated blankets, which wrap around Formula 1 car tyres while they are sat on the grid pre-race and are also used to warm up tyres prior to pit stops, was introduced this year. The previous upper limits of 100C for front tyres and 80C for rears was lowered to 70C for both this season.

For 2023, another decrease will be written into the regulations, reducing the blankets to 50C. Safety concerns over F1 cars running on cooler tyres has stopped previous attempts to outlaw blankets entirely, but F1 is aiming to do this by 2024.

However Perez says it has been more difficult to generate heat in tyres since the temperature limits were lowered this year.

“I think for me, the only concern is the warm-up,” said Perez when asked about the difficulty of getting Pirelli’s 2022 tyres into the right operating window for on-the-limit qualifying laps.

He is concerned by the prospect of a further reduction in tyre temperatures next year. “Sometimes when you are behind the Safety Car with these low blanket temperatures that we’re running [it’s more difficult]. I think already for next year, they’re trying to go even lower, which I feel like they’re putting the driver at risk because there are some situations, some scenarios where it can become quite dangerous.

“[With] cold track temperatures and safety cars and so on, it can be a bit of a risk for some drivers. So I think that’s the only real concern I have with these tyres at the moment.”

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Pirelli has begun track testing with teams to develop its 2023 tyres. It is yet to start that kind of development work for the rubber it will supply for 2024, which will have to work in a larger range of temperatures due to the lack of heated tyre blankets.

The change in blanket temperature limits this year, which brought the front and rear tyres in line with each other, and the new 18-inch construction Pirelli built to suit the different downforce levels of the 2022 F1 cars, has contributed to a change in tyre behaviour in the warm-up phase and in qualifying.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly explained that “last year there was a lot more focus in terms of procedure and a lot more of varieties of out-laps through the season compared to this year.” Having hotter front tyres in 2021 made lock-ups more frequent.

Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll commented that in 2022, with a lower working range, “the front tyre seems a lot weaker, it behaves quite differently and just takes some getting used to.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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32 comments on “Perez warns plan to lower tyre blanket temperatures will ‘put drivers at risk’”

  1. So get a safer job.

  2. As a longtime follower of MotoGP and F1 I can’t stand current F1 drivers complaining about safety.

    1. I fail to see how this is a safety issue. If you have less grip on your out lap following a pit stop then drive slower. If you can’t warm the tyres up for a flying lap, do two out laps. It’s not rocket surgery.

      1. rocket science :) But your right there is not safety issue as all other series don’t have any problems. As everyone have the same problems there is not going happen any serious …

      2. Yeah, it’s surely not a safety issue as such @frood19, it will just change the way you go out after a pitstop – you will need to have a larger gap to be able to come out ahead far enough that you can actually build up the temperature in them. Or you will have to accept dropping back and overtaking.

  3. From 2024, pit stop out-laps will be like they’re in SF.

    1. SF?
      But I think it depends on the rubber used: if it can heat up quickly or if it needs 3-5 laps to be at optimal temperature. This makes comparison to other categories meaningless until we have data on that rubber (which, according to the article, doesn’t exist yet).

      1. @x303 True, but I mean somewhat similarly in that without blankets an out-lap will be a struggle to an extent until tyres get fully warm.

  4. I would prefer the cars to have more grip for fast driving rather than having to nurse tyres for a lap or two before getting up to racing speed after a pit stop. I suppose there is the question of whether you want to make the undercut or the overcut more powerful.

    1. This has nothing to do with nursing the tyres. Tyres wear out slower when cold. It’s about not spinning out of track. They will have to use more driving skills to stay on the tracks on the first couple of laps, that’s all.

      1. Not entirely true. They can wear out quicker if they are too cold because it can cause graining.

  5. Don’t race in Indycar then. If Indycar can race on high speed ovals without warmers F1 should be able to do it on road courses.

  6. Didn’t Pérez say he deserves to earn millions because his job is risky?

    All joking aside, it is of course risky, and the FIA is always looking at ways to make it safer, but F1 drivers are often overly dramatic. Plenty of series race without pre-warmed tyres and do just fine. They’re supposed to be the best drivers in the world, and they’ll find a way to make whatever the final regulations are work. Just like they manage to do every time half the field moans the safety car is going to slow.

  7. I would like to refer to other racing series, but…

  8. DTM did it. IndyCar does it. If drivers of those categories can handle it, F1 drivers can handle it, too. If not, maybe lane keeping assist and emergency braking should be on the safety agenda.

    1. @f1mre The difference with those other categories is that the tire compounds are designed with the lack of tyre warmers in mind so they generate temperature in a way to get them within a working range quicker and the working range itself is also much larger. They are also designed in a way that they produce a reasonable level of grip when cold.

      The F1 tires are designed to start at a higher temperature so the working range is smaller and at a higher temperature. And because they don’t usually need to run at low temperatures the compound won’t offer any grip below a certain point and will infact begin to grain quite badly at lower temperatures.

      There was actually a plan to ban tire warmers in F1 a few years ago and Pirelli ran some test’s in preparation for it and as a result of what they found in those test’s the plan to ban the tire warmers had to be put on hold as the tires simply didn’t work. They had intended to have that tire blanket ban in place for this year but again after test’s it was felt the tires still weren’t where they needed to be.

      From cold a tire in Indycar will usually be within the working range within 1 lap. From cold an F1 tire would take several laps to get anywhere near been in a good working range and given there tendency to grain at lower temperatures they may even be finished before ever getting upto temperature.

      They need to be designed for it which is why banning tire blankets (Or lowering blanket temps too significantly) isn’t something you can just do overnight.

      1. @f1mre
        “The difference with those other categories is that the tire compounds are designed with the lack of tyre warmers in mind”

        Are you saying F1 is still using the same tyres that were designed in 1950?
        Come on man, if there are no tyre warmers, Pirelly will redesign the tyres for that, like they do for every technical regulation change, which happened last………….. before this very season.

    2. IndyCar and DTM do it with far less grip and horsepower. Their tires are under considerably less stress during the race.

      But hey– who cares about safety? Let’s just keep making the cars harder to drive until someone dies.

      1. The also do it on ovals like the Indy500…

        F1 is almost the last surviving class with tire warmers.

    3. This really isn’t about what the drivers can handle, but about the combination of tyres and cars they have to work with. Talking to AMuS, Pirelli compared some numbers between F1 and F2, which doesn’t use tyre blankets, and explained why the challenge of doing away with tyre blankets is much greater in F1. The principle of what they are describing should be transferable to other racing series vs F1.

      F2 tyres use starting pressures of 13-15 PSI and stabilize at around 20 PSI during a stint.
      F1 tyres, because of the vastly greater loads they have to withstand, require starting pressures of around 20 PSI and quickly reach pressures of over 30 PSI. So despite starting on warm vs cold tyres, the increase in tyre pressures in F1 is twice as high as in F2. This huge increase in tyre pressures changes the complete profile and contact area of the tyre.

      Without tyre blankets, the starting temperatures will obviously be lower, but for structural reasons the starting pressures have to remain the same. As a consequence, the pressure differences within a stint will increase even further. Making a tyre work over such a wide range of tyre pressures with the effect that has on the profile and contact area of the tyre is the big challenge.

      Complicating matters further, the spread of performance between the F1 cars is greater than in pretty much any other racing series, and Pirelli have to make the tyres work for all cars. They have to make sure that the warm-up process works with the slower cars and that the tyres still don’t overheat with the fastest cars.

      I don’t think any of this will cause safety issues, because lower blanket temperatures and the tyre blanket ban simply won’t happen unless the tyres are up to it. Transitioning towards a tyre blanket ban by gradually lowering blanket temperatures every year is exactly the right approach and should avoid any nasty surprises.

      1. Pirelli have to make the tyres work for all cars.

        Actually, they don’t.
        They just have to supply a tyre that is sufficient for the series technical regulations.
        If any teams overwork the tyres, that is misuse – and entirely their own fault. They’d never get the best from them that way, anyway.

  9. If F1 said “Starting tomorrow, no tire blankets”… then sure, that would be dangerous.

    A slow reduction over time, with them eventually eliminated after several iterations of new tires… seems like things will be ok.

    1. @gsimmonsonca Exactly.

      The tires need to be designed around it because the compound is build to act a certain way within expected temperature ranges.

      This is why when we see unusually cold temperatures at some races the tires can be prone to ‘cold graining’. If they are running outside of the expected temperature window that they are designed around the compound won’t act the way it’s meant to.

      This is indeed why it’s been done slowly, Not just for drivers to get used to it but also so that Pirelli can evaluate how the compounds deal with it and what changes they need to make to future compounds.

  10. It is at times like this that F1 suffers from having a single tyre supplier, I feel that if we were still in the era of Michelin vs Bridgstone that they’d find a way to solve this problem surprisingly quickly.

    1. That was also the era of tobacco sponsorships and unlimited testing. Money was not an issue for some teams, like Ferrari, at that time. On the whole it’s a good thing we are not in that era and the sport is better for it. I believe any reputable tyre supplier is capable of making the rubber, it’s a matter of the specifications they’re asked to make the tyres which needs to improve.

      1. Bingo.
        F1 is too focused on laptimes. Slow the cars down and everything improves.

  11. IndyCar has never used tire warmers, and now have far less downforce than F1 (used to have more that F1 years ago). My suggestion is to learn how to drive on cold tires, like IndyCar drivers have done forever.

  12. No mention of the impact on strategies.
    With a 1, 2 or 3 lap cold tire warm-up phase, the teams will lean towards waiting for a safety car for pitting. Either that or run right to the end and pit on the last lap. Can you still do that and finish.??
    Of course, Wolff would say “das ist der answer”.

  13. Of course there is no additional risk from cold tyres.
    The driver is the one determining the amount of risk they take – regardless of the tyre condition – and they’d be plain self-destructive if pushing too hard on cold tyres.
    Interestingly, no other series in the world determines a need for tyre warmers for safety…

    The benefits for everyone are in having an additional skill required from drivers in working with the tyres from cold, and the strategic necessity to defend when exiting the pits as they’ll certainly be slower than those already on track (rather than faster, which is the case now).
    It is, without any doubt, one of the better elements of other series that they do not use tyre warmers of any kind, and a stain on F1 that they do.
    The more things the driver has to manage themselves as a sportsperson, the better.

    And to satisfy the environmental stance, think of all the energy they’ll be saving not having tyre warmers anymore.
    Wins all round.

    Certainly, F1’s tyre supplier will need to create a product that has this in mind – but that’s relatively simple change. F1 is the only series they produce tyres for that doesn’t use them from cold…
    It may cost outright maximum performance, but I’m very much OK with that. F1 has too much grip now, losing some will only improve the on-track product by putting more focus on the driver and their car control and management skills.
    Unless you’re a 5-year-old who only likes cars to go faster all the time. Vroom vroom….

    1. F1 has too much grip now, losing some will only improve the on-track product

      Sounds like Bernie circa 1997. Bring on the grooved tyres.

      1. Bernie wasn’t always wrong.
        Grooved tyres were actually a very decent idea, and worked very well indeed.

        One of the worst decisions F1 has made in recent years was to make the tyres wider. The on-track product immediately got worse – exactly as expected.

  14. If you took blankets off the teams for the next race then it’d be a mess but phasing in the change gradually and in conjunction with new tyre compounds is perfectly safe. His comment about the safety car is important for Pirelli to know as they need to ensure that the tyres for next year can still warm up enough at safety car speeds to not pose a risk but that should be something they should fix. The fix is to change the tyres, not stop the removal of blankets.

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