'Lots of crashes' - F1 drivers want tire coverage plan scrapped - The Race

‘Lots of crashes’ – F1 drivers want tire coverage plan scrapped – The Race

Formula 1 drivers don’t want to persevere with a phased ban on tire covers and world champion Max Verstappen says it risks “a lot of accidents”.

A slide towards a complete cover ban in 2024 began this year with the reduction of maximum tire cover temperatures from 100C (front) and 80C (rear) to 70C.

Another drop of 20°C to a maximum of 50°C for the covers will take place next year, which was tested last weekend during practice for the United States Grand Prix alongside the evaluation of the 2023 Pirelli tires.

Another 2023 tire test will take place at FP2 in Mexico on Friday and was again expected to feature a maximum temperature of 50C for the covers, leading Red Bull driver Verstappen to predict a “nice drift show”.

However, The Race understands that the requirement to operate the covers at a temperature not exceeding 50°C has been removed, so the usual 70°C limit will apply for the FP2 tire test.

Verstappen said he only used the toughest compound in Austin and claimed the lack of grip was such that he nearly spun into the pit lane.

When the total ban for 2024 was imposed on him, Verstappen said: “So I think we’re going to have a lot of crashes. It’s tough.

Formula 1 World Motor Racing Championship Mexican Grand Prix Preparation Day Mexico City, Mexico

“Your tire degradation is going to be completely different because your tires are very cold, you slide a lot in the first few laps, your tire pressures are going to skyrocket, so your tires are going to degrade a lot.

“At the moment I don’t really like it, but a lot of drivers are saying the same thing and of course we have to find a solution to that.

“Austin is still a track where you can easily change tires because of the high-speed corners.

“But if you go to a track like a street circuit, like Monaco, can you imagine half and half conditions, I think it will be about half the race before you get temperature in your tyres.”

McLaren driver Lando Norris said the weather and circuit layout in Austin provided “the best possible conditions” for testing the 50C cover last weekend and it was still a huge problem.

Asked by The Race about Verstappen saying the rule was in danger of crashing, Norris replied: “Yeah there would be.

“It was like the best possible conditions to have these tyres: super hot, hot track temperature, high speed first sector to get the temperature in. And they weren’t nice. So easy to lock up front, if easy to lock on the back, completely unpredictable.

“Imagine you go to a much colder race track, or if it’s a bit humid or something.

Motor racing Formula 1 World Championship United States Grand Prix Practice Day Austin, USA

“Everyone is going to maneuver the car at some point.

“No driver wants it, basically.”

Norris said there were already “conversations” between drivers and stakeholders and the loudest drivers were those who had experienced much lighter F1 cars and better tires from previous eras.

He acknowledged the desire to phase out blankets rather than make a sudden change, but said it was just “dangerous”.

“Driving a current-era Formula 1 car, which is designed so specifically with all the aero and everything, in a way that’s not made for going out on cold tires, it’s not like a Formula 2 or Formula 3 car where you can just throw it in and do whatever,” Norris said.

“It doesn’t really work that way.

“We will have discussions about this, between all the pilots and the GPDA.”

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen agreed with Norris’ suggestion that the rule is simply not compatible with this era of low, stiff, ground effect F1 cars.

Motor racing Formula 1 World Championship United States Grand Prix Practice Day Austin, USA

“I really wouldn’t like that because I don’t think Pirelli, the FIA ​​and Formula 1 really understand how difficult it is to heat up these tires even when they come out at 70C,” Magnussen said.

“They tried at 50°C and it’s already very difficult. I think it’s because they haven’t driven those cars, they don’t understand.

“I think there is a security issue.

“These cars are very stressed because of the downforce, so the tire has to be quite stiff, so when it’s cold it’s hard, like ice.

“Whereas in sports cars I just think the tire is lower working range and softer so when it’s cold it’s super easy to warm up.

“At 50C here it’s a big deal. So no tire warmers, a very big deal.

Valtteri Bottas offered some support for not having tire covers, but only “if the tires can handle it”.

The Alfa Romeo driver said “it should be possible” but the current tires would make it “impossible in some cases” and said Pirelli’s 2023 candidate tires fell short either.

Motor racing Formula 1 World Championship United States Grand Prix Practice Day Austin, USA

“If you pit stop on a hard tire with no covers these days, on a track like this [Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez] it would certainly be very risky and almost like a security issue,” he said.

“Or on a street track, going out with a completely cold set of tires because the tire feels more like plastic at that temperature.

“But if the tire changes and if it’s been changed to work in a much lower range, then why not.

“At the moment, and the tire we tried in Austin, it couldn’t handle the 50C coverage, it was really, really, really slippery at the start.

“And it was Austin and it was warm. So on some tracks that would already be a problem.

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