Tyre temperatures became “really dangerous” behind Safety Car, say drivers

Formula 1

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Formula 1 drivers were concerned about the state of their tyres during the first Safety Car period at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The Safety Car was deployed for the first time in reaction to Lando Norris’ crash on lap two. He lost control at turn 11 when his car bottomed out in the fast left-hander. The Safety Car drove especially slowly past the scene of Norris’s crash.

Due to the Safety Car’s slow pace, plus low track temperatures and the lack of grip on the circuit at the start of the race, tyre temperatures plunged. Several drivers were warned their tyres temperatures had fallen to levels they hadn’t experienced throughout the weekend at the new Las Vegas Strip Circuit.

“It was really dangerous under the Safety Car,” said George Russell. “The tyres were rock-solid and they were colder than you’d experience in the rain, really. So that was to be expected here, in these conditions.”

Several drivers told their teams the Safety Car needed to increase its pace, including Carlos Sainz Jnr.

“At turn one on the Safety Car restart was like driving on ice,” said the Ferrari driver. “We need to find a solution, I think, to make the Safety Car a bit quicker in these certain scenarios.

“I cannot explain how it feels to go 340 [kph] and know that when you’re going to hit the brake, that thing is not going to stop. It was very tricky.”

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During the Safety Car period Pierre Gasly warned his team “it’s going to be a chaos if they don’t increase the pace.” Although the restart passed without incident, he said the temperatures were too low, and F1 should consider holding the race closer to daylight hours when the track will be warmer.

“It was quite sketchy with this temperature,” said Gasly. “So if we can see a bit of sunlight in the next few years, that will not be a bad thing.

“The restarts and the Safety Car were a bit tricky. But you need a first time and I’m sure we learn from what we’ve seen this year.”

What they said on the radios

Race leaders Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc also expressed concerns over how cold their tyres were getting and urged the Safety Car to speed up.

At one stage Leclerc even wondered if he’d seen footage on a trackside video screen of someone crashing under the Safety Car period, until he realised he’d been watching a replay.

Lap: 4/50 VER: 3’05.831, LEC: 3’06.061
VerstappenThe Safety Car’s driving really slow on the straight here. I know everyone needs to get past the car but then he has to speed up a bit.LeclercThey need to make it fast, the Safety Car.
LambiaseWe’ve heard exactly the same feedback from Charles behind you as well, Max. Hopefully that’ll get relayed.Marcos PadrosCopy, we’ll pass this message. So Norris is there, he crashed into the wall. So it will be slow there and then slightly quicker.
Leclerc‘Come on, the Safety Car needs to go flat-out in the straights. It’s going to be dangerous to restart like this.
Marcos PadrosI believe it’s because the queue of the pack is a still at turn 12.
LeclercYeah but we don’t care about this. It’s much more dangerous what they are doing now. They will catch up, the other guys. Tell them to go faster because it’s actually dangerous.
Marcos PadrosYeah, we are passing the message.
Lap: 5/50 VER: 2’47.558, LEC: 2’47.522
LambiaseKeep working the tyres, Max.LeclercDid they crash under Safety Car? No, no it was a replay?
LambiaseYeah so now Max tyres are well under blanket temperature. You probably haven’t driven with tyre temps this low so far this weekend, so you really need to take care.Marcos PadrosNo, no, we don’t think so. It was just a replay, yes.

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12 comments on “Tyre temperatures became “really dangerous” behind Safety Car, say drivers”

  1. I don’t buy this. Look at the onboards after the safety cars. Almost no weaving, all behind each other. They just did not adapt, I’m betting that if they would steer left,right,left,etc while behind the safety car the temps would have been much better.

    Best drivers and teams of the world, and they goof it up.

    Better learn for next year🥸

    1. @Mega
      For me it is really strange to see comments like this on a board like this.
      While it is fine to be wrong about something, why are you so sure about yourself? You’re even mocking the drivers..
      I mean, at some point in your thought process you should consider maybe the drivers are actually world class and maybe you who has zero experience are wrong here… preferably before hitting the post button? No? Just wondering how that works

      1. I remember an ex-driver (Coulthard or Brundle I think) saying once that weaving looks good but actually achieves very little and it is brake pressure friction which actually keeps the tyre temperature up.

        1. Judge by yourself, Alan:

          Anyway, I agree with Mega – F1 drivers are a bunch of moaners who are too comfortable to want to adapt to anything. They just want to drive on rails on the smoothest, flattest asphalt in the most ideal temperature and humidity.
          Rallye drivers can go from asphalt to gravel to concrete to mud to dirt to black ice in a matter of seconds and they ace it. Meanwhile conditions that are “tricky” cause F1 drivers cry for momma and demand fixes. Pathetic.

          1. Asd, really interesting video, thank you. It looks like the front tyres get a fair bit of surface heat when cornering but cool very quickly when running in free air, and then when he gets to the back of the grid and is sitting still, the front tyres warm up again, so I presume that is the heat coming from the brakes. The rears on the cars ahead of him get seriously hot while standing on the grid.

            “Rallye drivers can go from asphalt to gravel to concrete to mud to dirt to black ice in a matter of seconds and they ace it.”

            That’s not quite the same thing. Rally drivers are not lying a few cm from the track enduring the significant G forces of an F1 car. It is more a case of F1 designers expecting millimeter perfect surfaces and designing cars to take advantage of it, so naturally the drivers complain when they have to drive over surfaces the car wasn’t designed for.

          2. That vid exemplifies it nicely.
            Weaving wasn’t doing much to tire temp.
            Looks like the driver braked hard @00:23 and locked the RF slightly.
            Driver did build a bunch of temp into the brakes though.
            That heat propagated to the tires as they sat on the grid waiting for the start.

            Weaving does help by scrubbing the dirty track crud off the tire.

      2. (Yes it’s a prime example of Dunning Kruger)

    2. The weaving is a bit pointless, it’s just a habit that stuck in F1. Many other series don’t do this, although they have the benefit of having proper tyres that don’t need to be pre-warmed. The real trick is in leaning on the brakes.

      But the general point stands; drivers in F1 have moaned about their tyres behind the safety car since forever, and every single time they immediately try to capitalize on the resulting small gaps to make daring moves, and every single time it works out pretty well, and certainly not meaningfully different from moves at other parts of the race.

      When the team behind Ericson at the Indy moaned that it was unsafe to restart the race straight out of the pitlane (as it was the 200th lap), another team was later quoted by RACER that the temperatures were perfectly fine halfway through the lap, and no different from the lap 1 start. This kind of gamesmanship is also present in F1; everything said about the races is also (in part) political. The drivers just tend to be not quite as clever or subtle about it as their bosses.

      1. The real trick is in leaning on the brakes.

        Gasly was using them so much as he tried to heat his tyres his team warned him the discs were getting too hot.

  2. I think the drivers moaning is just an optics issue. Their concerns are valid, most of us on this forum are aware that cold tyres mean that they don’t grip the surface as well and create situations where the car slides across the track. The safety issue is that the tyre pressure is critical to the overall ride height of the car. Low pressures mean cars start bottoming out, especially bad with the current cars that are already as low as possible to take advantage of ground effects.

    Norris suggested that he bottomed out in his accident and this was likely due to a lower than optimal tyre pressures and as such a lower ride height. We don’t want situations where drivers are crashing at high speeds due to this.

    So while I take everyone’s comments on board, the ride height issue is the one that needs to be addressed as a safety concern.

    1. Good point Dragoll. The reason we have a plank etc is because the sport had to address the safety issue of ride height. I hope we don’t have to wait for another spate of serious accidents before they revisit this issue.

  3. This is daft. They are the best drivers in the world. They know how much grip they (don’t) have and need to drive within the limit. It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be.

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