Ferrari and Mercedes begin key test of tyres designed to work without blankets

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In the round-up: Ferrari and Mercedes trialled new tyres designed to work without heating blankets at the Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday.

In brief

Pirelli’s blanket-free tyres used on test day

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ George Russell conducted an important tyre test for Pirelli on Tuesday at Barcelona as they trialled slick tyres that are in development for 2024 and are designed to work without blankets.

It was one of several 2024-focused tests that have been scheduled to take place during this season, with other teams getting the opportunity to try out the blanket-free tyres after the summer break.

Leclerc was the faster of the two drivers at Barcelona, completing 167 laps and with his best lap time being a 1’18.197. Russell was 0.203 seconds slower in his Mercedes, and set 151 laps during the day.

Mick Schumacher will drive Mercedes’ car for the first time tomorrow when the test concludes. Teams will vote at the end of next month on whether to commit to using the blanket-free tyres during the 2024 F1 season.

Alfa Romeo: It’s extremely difficult to score in F1 right now

Alfa Romeo say scoring points in Formula 1 this season has become more difficult due to Aston Martin’s jump up the order and improved reliability in the second year of the current technical rules cycle.

“Now, when everything is so tight for us, for everyone, but especially for us, we put a lot of effort to make sure that we finish races,” the team’s head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar said in response to a question from RaceFans. “Because already if you want to be able to be in that fight, you need to make sure first to finish the race.

“But everyone is doing the same, and then everyone wants to be there at the end of the race. And that’s how it becomes like this. It becomes extremely difficult already in terms of performance is very tight. And then if everyone is finishing the races, it’s even more difficult to score points. You see outside of the top teams that if there were three, now it’s four. The points is the last two positions [in the top 10], pretty much.”

F2 and F3 choose not to replace cancelled Imola round

The promoter of the Formula 1-supporting Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships has announced it will not organise a replacement event after the cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix led to both series losing a round.

Flooding in the vicinty of Imola on the week of last month’s grand prix there meant the event was cancelled after many teams had already arrived.

“We have looked at several options, but ultimately, we have decided that we will not add a new venue to this year’s calendars,” said Bruno Michel, F2 and F3’s CEO. “With a total of 13 F2 rounds and nine F3 events, I believe we still have enough races to deliver two amazing and competitive seasons.”

F3 teams will get an additional chance to race post-season as the FIA F3 World Cup-awarding Macau Grand Prix takes place in November.

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Comment of the day

The feedback from F1 drivers was that removing the chicane at the end of the lap at Barcelona made the track more enjoyable to drive, an that was known from the first practice session, but it took until the race to determine if it improved overtaking. Some said it did, others were not so convinced, while for a few it wasn’t on their mind as they had bigger things to worry about.

I don’t really care if it improved overtaking. The fact that it’s a challenging corner in itself, that also makes the last corner even more challenging, is a major plus. The old chicane didn’t help overtaking anyway, it was too awkward, that series of corners didn’t allow a car to be right behind another coming into the last corner and the straight. So anything was going to be an improvement. I’m glad the alternative is this good.

Plus it puts more stress on the car. The race in Spain is always a snorefest, but we’re not coming from eventul races either, and I think it blended with how the rest of the year is going pretty well this time.

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On this day in motorsport

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Author information

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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9 comments on “Ferrari and Mercedes begin key test of tyres designed to work without blankets”

  1. It has always been difficult to score points, at least for Alfa/Sauber perspective. However, it would be extremely helpful if they changed their types a bit faster and not to loose precious seconds which are hard to make up. It was of great encouragement to see Peter Sauber there on Sunday.

  2. I thought stopping blanket use for next year was a given thing, but apparently, final approval is still needed.
    Anyway, as pointed out before, some other circuit-racing series (SF, F2, IndyCar, etc.) have managed without blankets perfectly safely, so F1 should also.

    I’m still surprised Losail wasn’t a choice for F2 in the first place, even more than replacement for Imola, like the other Middle East locations & despite being far closer to Europe than Melbourne.

    Yes, no South African GP return for the time being, although this effectively already became guaranteed last year.
    Oh well, another single-year deal for the Belgian GP probably awaits before getting sacked for another location, either African or Colombia, for example.

    Like COTD, I also care more about the challenge aspect than whether overtaking became easier or not, & while the chicane never really helped in this regard despite the original intention, neither are high-speed corners generally good for following.
    Yes, Circuit de Catalunya Spanish GPs have generally tended to be quite processional, but this year’s edition definitely wasn’t, despite not being an instant classic per se.

    1. South African GP instead of Spa are they completly mad sometimes I wonder why. The money of a South African GP would never be as big as SPA because of the prices in South Africa is 10 times lower then Europe.
      So to beat Spa who has to pay €30-40Million that would for South African Circuit 300-400Million
      How are the organisers going to pay for that? I think that is the reason why it went wrong …. Outside companies would sponsor the GP to keep prices acceptable for the local people.

      1. The idea that SA would be a direct replacement for Spa baffles me too. Surely they wouldn’t want to race in SA in September, during their winter? Early / late season makes more sense when the weather is better in SA, so unless you’re gonna shuffle most races around to accommodate, then it makes little sense.

    2. The idea of a Grand Prix in Africa is good in theory. Having races on multiple continents is, after all, what makes it a World Championship (it’s a formal requirement). But while there are some more modern tracks than Kyalami, most of them are quite small and short and more geared to national events (like the new track in Nigeria a few years ago), which leaves Kyalami as the best candidate for a Grade 1 status (it doesn’t have one as of now).

      Zandvoort, which is similarly dated and largely unsuited to modern F1 cars, got past the objections on the back of Verstappen’s popularity – but I’m not sure there’s the same kind of local interest and push from F1 itself to go to South-Africa.

  3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    7th June 2023, 10:45

    Can’t wait to see the back of those silly tyre blankets. They add nothing to the sport.

    Driving on cold tyres should be a skill in a F1 drivers armoury.

    1. Absolutely, and as the last two Indycar races showed – a lot of the complaining is about very marginal differences.

      Marshall Pruett got one of the teams to share some data, and they said the last-lap restart of the Indy 500 had tyre pressures and such at pretty much similar levels to the original lap 1 start. So while it was understandable that guys like Ericsson complained; he was probably mostly doing it because no restart would have meant a win for him.

      And last weekend in Detroit there were passes straight out of the pits on drivers who had warmed up their tyres; I think Dixon was one who made it look particularly easy, showing that tyre temperatures are important but still just one part of the overall performance.

    2. Yeah, if an F1 driver can’t overcome the laws of physics, what good are they?

      These cars have monster amounts of torque, which the FIA has made as unmanageable as possible, the suspensions are incredibly unforgiving due to the ban on hydraulics, and the tires are specifically designed to operate in a narrow window which is difficult to enter by design.

      But that’s OK. What’s the lives of a couple more drivers when the spectacle is on the line?

      1. Pirelli will make new compounds to account for the lack of tyre blankets.

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