WEC allows one-off return for tyre warmers at Le Mans 24 Hours after crashes


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The ban on the use of tyre warmers in the World Endurance Championship will be relaxed for the series’ blue riband race at Le Mans next month.

The FIA and l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest has permitted the change as a one-off measure which will apply across all classes. It follows a series of crashes in the opening rounds of the championship.

Ferrari’s Antonio Fuoco crashed heavily during the last round of the championship at Spa-Francorchamps.

The FIA and ACO said they had “conducted an in-depth evaluation of tyre usage data together with the FIA World Endurance Championship’s exclusive tyre suppliers Michelin and Goodyear” in reaching the decision.

“The exemption is limited to the 24 Hours of Le Mans only, ensuring that drivers of all experience levels will be able to compete in the safest possible environment regardless of track conditions and temperatures, while tyre manufacturers, teams and drivers will gain valuable time to develop better understanding of how to bring cold tyres up to temperature ahead of the remainder of the 2023 FIA WEC season,” the governing bodies stated.

The FIA is moving to outlaw tyre warmers in order to reduce energy consumption. It aims to do the same in Formula 1, where official tyre supplier Pirelli is developing new compounds designed to be used without tyre blankets. F1 teams will vote in July on whether to go ahead with the ban on tyre warmers in 2024.

WEC’s tyre heaters “will be powered by 100% sustainable fuel” at Le Mans, the FIA added. “Moving away from tyre warming was originally introduced as part of a long-term WEC tyre road map, developed in consultation with tyre manufacturers, and has been in the works over the last two years.”

The ban on tyre warmers will come back into force at the fifth round of the World Endurance Championship, the Six Hours of Monza, in July.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “WEC allows one-off return for tyre warmers at Le Mans 24 Hours after crashes”

  1. Once again the FIA pandering to the lowest common denominator.

    If your tyre warm-up is causing you to crash, warm up your tyres more carefully.

    1. From that comment I take it you don’t actually watch the races.

    2. The FIA cannot not respond when an issue is framed as a safety concern.

      However, outside observers will note that there were 35 other cars in the Belgian race.

      1. MichaelN, there were other incidents that occurred during that same race weekend as well – Fuoco’s accident is only being mentioned here because it was the more prominent one. You seem to be hinting at Hartley’s accident, but I guess you didn’t hear about the Flohr-Alessi crash during the practice sessions, for example, probably because that was during the practice sessions and involved cars in the GTE category, rather than the higher profile Hypercar category.

    3. I detest what the FIA has done to formula one but I doubt that the FIA is dumbing down WEC. If you see the onboard Fuoco was driving very slowly and had only left the pitlane for about ten seconds when he lost control. Also, I think the Hypercars were about four seconds a lap slower multiple laps into a stint before they got their tyres up to temperature. I doubt this enhances the racing. Really excellent race except for these tyre issues though.

  2. Drivers and teams will adapt, as long as they tyre compounds vaguely work when cold. Club racers manage to cope, with less grippy tyres and far less downforce – I’m sure the ‘best in the world’ can do it too.

    1. Kind of true except Clun racers have far less hp to deal with and the extra downforce doesn’t come into it as hypercars cannot go fast enough on cold tyres to use the downforce so have to build heat very slowly in top level racing terms. Also the public want to see the cars at their best I guess, can’t see the fun in watching them slowly building heat over many laps. I’d rather see them at maximum performance for as long as I can.

  3. There is an truism for driving on the road and that is “Drive To The Conditions”.

    For some reason racing car drivers have an inability to drive to the conditions in regards tire temperature and the corresponding lack of grip when tires are cold.

    Mr Racing Driver, it is simple. If you have cold tires drive to the conditions of your tires until they heat up and get improved grip. And remember the first rule of racing. The finish first, you first must finish.

    1. To be fair, those that did drive to the conditions were absolute mobile chicanes, like having multiple Forti Fords randomly scattered around the track until adequate warm up. Other places, this wouldn’t be so bad, but given Eau Rouge was the first corner after pit exit, it’s definitely not a great thing!

      1. If ‘the conditions’ include slower cars on track, then all drivers need to drive to those conditions too.
        That’s not uncommon in mixed-class racing such as WEC anyway, is it….

        1. Maybe so, but the conditions are not the same for all the cars/drivers at the same moment. Some cars are driving with already ‘on temperature” tyres because these were mounted a few laps ago whilst others just come on the track with fresh mounted cold tyres. At that moment the ‘conditions’ are more different than when all cars can get on track with pre-heated tyres.

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