One of the big changes on the horizon for Formula 1 concerns tire covers and the pressure from the FIA and Pirelli to ban them for 2024.
The phasing out of tire covers is underway, but this has been pushed back by teams and riders for safety reasons.
Driver fears center on running cold tyres, which will increase the driving challenge in the early laps after a pit stop.
Max Verstappen predicted there would be “a lot of accidents” if the move were to go ahead, but extensive testing is planned for 2023 with the aim of working on dropping tire covers for Season 24.
The pros and cons of getting rid of tire covers
According RacingNews365.comit is According to F1 Commission sources, relegating tire covers to the history books could have a strong environmental impact by saving huge amounts of energy.
This is also expected to reduce infrastructure demands on the circuits, particularly in the final minutes before the race, when power demand is at its highest all weekend, and will ultimately result in cheaper equipment costs for teams – as well as improving and placing extra emphasis on the driver to get heat into their tires without wasting too much time.
However, these benefits are countered by the negative possibilities that the global tire ban could have on racing strategy.
With high tire pressure and significantly lower temperatures, there is a risk of increased degradation and wear.
In addition to drivers’ concerns about pit exit safety, the ripple effect is also being considered by championship bosses.
Teams will find other ways to heat up their rubber and so these scenarios should all be assessed with any potential loopholes firmly closed.
The tire coverage plan for 2023
During the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, Pirelli performed a tire test in the second practice session for 2023 compounds, while experimenting with a major step to ban covers.
The gradual introduction of the ban began in the 2022 season, with the maximum tire heating temperature reduced to 70 degrees Celsius front and rear, typically over a three-hour period.
At the United States Grand Prix, this was further reduced to 50 degrees when testing the Pirelli tires in FP2, but proved unfavorable to the drivers.
A solution was found during the FP2 test in Mexico a week later, where the tires were again heated to 70 degrees, but for two hours.
This provided some interesting data for Pirelli – with some of the driver’s safety concerns alleviated by the “70 degrees at two o’clock” test when presented with the data.
According to Pirelli, during the three-hour heating period, it was found that the steep heating curve would plateau after just two hours, resulting in an hour of wasted energy.
It is this plan which should continue until 2023, accompanied by a simple reduction in the number of pneumatic covers (for slick tires) available for each driver – from ten to seven.
Additionally, a pressure control valve will be evaluated to increase the possibility of lower start-up pressures from 2025.
It’s not an essential step on the road to banning covers, but it could improve tire performance if implemented.
In 2023, all Pirelli track tests must focus on the goal of having no covers for the following season, with RacingNews365.comit is sources indicating that a final decision should be made after the test at Silverstone after the British Grand Prix in July.
After this long trial period, to officially ban tire covers for 2024, the FIA, F1 itself and five of the ten teams must agree to the proposal.
Pirelli tests rain tires
In addition to working on the ban, for which ten different tests are planned in 2023, Pirelli is also focusing on rain tires and improving them.
During the wet Japanese Grand Prix, rain tires were only used when mandated by the FIA, with drivers quickly switching to intermediates when racing finally resumed.
In 2023, four separate wet weather tests are planned at Paul Ricard and Fiorano to try to address the overheating and performance issues highlighted by the drivers.
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