“Concerned” Russell says F1 not ready for blanket-free tyres in 2024

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“Russell Expresses Concerns Over Introduction of Blanket-Free Tyres in F1 for 2024

The proposed ban on tyre-warming blankets in Formula 1 for the upcoming season was met with amendments, allowing their continued usage. However, the FIA reserves the right to reinstate the ban pending a final decision by the end of July.

In a crucial Pirelli test held at Barcelona after the Spanish GP, Mercedes driver Russell, along with Ferrari’s Leclerc and Sainz, as well as Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher, participated. The test’s significance lies in being the penultimate session for 2024 blanket-free tyre testing, with teams like Red Bull and Haas set to take part in the final assessment at Silverstone before the ultimate verdict is reached.

Although the Barcelona test reportedly went well, with considerable progress made on the blanket-free tyres since their initial trials, Russell believes the positive outcome was influenced by the high temperatures and specific track characteristics in Spain.

Reflecting on the test, Russell stated, “In hindsight, it probably wasn’t tested in the right conditions at the right circuit. I think if you go to a circuit such as Barcelona, which has aggressive Tarmac, with a track temperature in the 40s, fully rubbered from the race weekend, the tyres were initially tricky leaving the pit lane but reached a respectable level by Turn 5 on the out lap.”

Comparing this experience to the beginning of the year when he had difficulty in Jerez’s 10-degree track temperature, Russell expressed his doubts about introducing the blanket-free tyres to racing scenarios. He raised concerns about the safety of mechanics during pit stops and the challenges drivers would face during cold conditions, anticipating an increase in accidents.

Russell further suggested that considerable effort, expenses, and development have been directed towards these tyres, which he believes could be better utilized elsewhere.

Leclerc echoed Russell’s sentiments, emphasizing the need to assess the tyre performance in unfavorable conditions before making a final judgment. He expressed uncertainty about the tyres’ raceability in lower temperatures and requested further testing under different conditions to make an informed decision.

When asked about the tyre behavior at the Spanish track, Leclerc pointed out the challenges posed by specific corners that require optimal tyre temperature. While manageable when driving alone, he stressed that racing alongside other cars could complicate matters. He indicated that if the issue remained limited to a few corners, even in low-temperature conditions, it could be considered, but expressed concerns about extended warm-up periods in very low conditions.

Fernando Alonso, drawing from his experience with blanket-free tyres in the Indy 500, disagreed with the idea of implementing them in Formula 1. He highlighted the influence of circuit-specific factors, suggesting that certain tracks like Barcelona would favor the tyres, while others like Monaco would pose significant challenges. Alonso expressed his skepticism and saw no compelling reason for removing the blankets.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about blanket-free tyres

What were the concerns raised by F1 drivers regarding the introduction of blanket-free tyres for 2024?

F1 drivers expressed concerns about the safety risks and uncertain performance of blanket-free tyres in different conditions. They highlighted potential difficulties during pit stops, challenges on out laps in cold conditions, and the likelihood of increased accidents. They also questioned the readiness of the sport to incorporate these tyres into racing scenarios and suggested that resources could be better utilized elsewhere.

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