JUNE 27, 2012
Tyre warmers to go amid F1 cost-cutting?
The abolition of F1 tyre blankets could save F1 teams half a million dollars but is not feasible with Pirelli's current control rubber. There are mixed views on whether or not a ban would be a good thing.
The blankets ensure that tyres are at operating temperature both at the start of a race and when drivers rejoin on fresh rubber after a pit stop. Many, however, believe that with everyone using them and carting generators around the world to use while the cars are on the grid, the blankets are an expensive irrelevance and that 'the show' would benefit from drivers having to cope with cold tyres, as in most other formulae.
"You couldn't ban them with these tyres, that's for sure," said McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh. "I think the idea was being discussed against a background of either different rubber or if the tyre contract went out to tender in future. They obviously don't have blankets in other formulae and provided that the temperature and pressure range of the tyres are okay, it does seem a fairly pointless exercise to spend so much money on blankets and having noisy generators on the grid. Better to save the space and have more room for VIPs and media!"
However Whitmarsh's opposite number at Mercedes, Ross Brawn, cautioned: "If it's an economic question, it's a couple of hundred grand a year and we'd have them for testing anyway because you don't want to be doing additional mileage just to bring the tyres up to temperature. So we'd end up buying them for testing and not using them at a race. But from a sporting viewpoint, drivers on cold tyres unable to defend their positions might be interesting."
That was a view that did not appear to be shared by Ross's driver, Michael Schumacher!
"I think cold tyres are okay for categories with low power, like Formula Ford and F3," the seven times times champion said, "but in F1, with the power and speed we have, I wouldn't like the idea and I don't see the need, at all."
Romain Grosjean, fresh out of GP2 where the teams run Pirelli rubber without blankets, disagreed.
"Without blankets it's a different story," he said, "it's a bit funny after the pit stops and a bit more slippery at the beginning of a race but everyone gets used to it. If Pirelli made the tyres a bit different it wiuld be okay."