Unheated “chewing gum” tyres would make F1 look “stupid”, says Verstappen

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Verstappen asserts that using “chewing gum” unheated tyres could make F1 appear foolish.

The team heads and F1 leaders are set to deliberate over the issue of tyre blankets in an upcoming F1 Commission meeting during the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday.

Pirelli, the F1 tyre supplier, has been committed to engineering tyres that do not necessitate pre-warming, and their experimental program is wrapping up post the British GP.

Despite their confidence in producing tyres compatible with the present generation of vehicles, there remains significant doubt from drivers and teams about the implications of such a transition.

A major concern is the minimal traction the unheated tyres will provide right after leaving the pit stop, which will likely eliminate undercut strategies during races.

In addition, apprehensions have been raised about the potential hazards if drivers find themselves grappling with almost no traction during position battles post pit stops.

World champion Verstappen, entering the Belgian GP with a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox alteration, has unequivocally stated his reservations about this shift, which is being advocated primarily for sustainability reasons.

He said ahead of the F1 Commission meeting, “I don’t believe we should steer in that direction. Most people likely don’t comprehend the challenge of driving a 1000 horsepower car right out of the pits, especially on a slightly slippery track. It’s unwarranted.

“I’m doubtful that these tyre blankets consume a lot of energy. Probably an air conditioning unit consumes more energy when factored across the entire paddock.

“And concerning the tyres, while they might be able to get it to work, they would have to reduce the working range to such an extent that once they heat up, the tyres will resemble chewing gum and the pressures would skyrocket.

“It’s unlikely to improve racing. Struggling so much just to warm the tyres during an out-lap will make it look ridiculous.

“Currently, I believe racing, even out of the pits with hot tyres, is exhilarating. I don’t see a compelling reason to alter this.”

The first verdict from the F1 Commission will decide if the FIA and Pirelli are satisfied with the progress of the unheated tyre development to sanction the change.

If both entities deem the tyres fit for purpose, the subject will proceed to a vote, necessitating a majority of the teams to agree on banning tyre blankets.

However, the likelihood of this happening seems slim, as the general consensus among most teams is that this change is not in F1’s best interest.

Yet, the initiative to transition to intermediate tyres that can be used without pre-heating is expected to receive backing for implementation by 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Unheated Tyres in F1

What is the main concern about using unheated tyres in F1 racing?

The primary concern about using unheated tyres in F1 racing is that they offer minimal grip immediately out of the pit stop, potentially eliminating undercut strategies during races. Also, the tyres might pose a risk to drivers who could have little to no grip when fighting for positions after pitstops.

Who expressed concerns about the switch to unheated tyres?

World Champion Max Verstappen voiced concerns about the switch to unheated tyres. He stated that such tyres would be like “chewing gum” once heated up and pressure would increase excessively, not improving the racing and making it look ridiculous.

What is Pirelli’s position on the unheated tyres?

Pirelli, the F1 tyre supplier, has been working to develop tyres that do not require pre-heating and feels confident about its progress. However, the final decision about implementing this change will be determined by the F1 Commission and will require a majority vote from the teams.

Why is the switch to unheated tyres being considered?

The switch to unheated tyres is primarily being considered on sustainability grounds. It is believed that tyre blankets, which are currently used to pre-heat tyres, consume a lot of energy.

What is the general consensus among F1 teams regarding the switch to unheated tyres?

The consensus among most F1 teams appears to be that the switch to unheated tyres is not the right direction for F1, implying that a ban on tyre blankets may not gain majority support. However, a transition to intermediate tyres that don’t require pre-warming may be likely for 2024.

More about Unheated Tyres in F1

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