F1 drivers not 100% on tyres yet without warmers after latest test

F1, Pirelli

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – MARCH 19: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT04 leads Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C43 Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia driving at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202303190319 // Editorial Use Only //

F1 drivers are still not 100% on the Pirelli tires without the warm blankets as testing resumes ahead of a vote in a few months.

With the goal of removing tire covers in the future, a number of teams and drivers are conducting tests without them throughout the 2023 season. Mercedes already did it in Paul Ricard ahead of the 2023 start with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in February.

It wasn’t the smoothest of tests as Hamilton branded it dangerous. In addition to testing at Paul Ricard, Pirelli also tested at Portimao, Jerez and Fiorano. After that, another test was held in Bahrain, where conditions would be much warmer. This test had several runners from different teams such as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri.

But the result was skepticism. Considering the conditions were warm, they immediately faced warming issues that they believe will be very difficult than other colder conditions they are sure to encounter throughout the year.

This is not only due to the slippery compounds, but also to rainy conditions where grip is very low. But Pirelli was still encouraged by the Bahrain test, considering the tires were rated dangerous in the winter test. Testing is still at an early stage but time is short with a vote set for the 2024 British GP weekend.

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Valtteri Bottas: “Pirelli test, there is still a lot to do. I think Pirelli knows it too and Formula 1 knows it too. It’s a fairly new concept for Formula 1 cars, with the amount of load we have in the cars and having a tire like this that works from low to high temperatures is not easy to manufacture. I think Pirelli is working really hard on it. And yes, it was mostly about collecting data and learning how to use it. Obviously warming up is a bit of a problem if you don’t have blankets. But Bahrain is probably the easiest track to get the tires warmed up.”

“So it was actually manageable. But at this point, which is pretty obvious from the start, then the pressure increase is massive when you start cold and when you hit 100C, obviously making the tire drop significantly worse. Yes. Personally I don’t think that’s the way to go, but I think they work really hard and it’s obviously not up to us what will happen in the future.”

Yuki Tsunoda: “Yes, I did it. I don’t know what to be honest. Yes, it has less grip than a rubber tire. But actually Bahrain was a bit easier because it’s really warm there. So I had no problem warming up at all. But the question is: if we go to Imola, on a low-temperature track, especially on the intermediate level, get out of the garage, wet condition. It will be much more difficult than you think, I think, because even the current tire with the covers is very difficult to warm up the tire. So I think without blankets it’s really hard to imagine it’s going to be the same or easier.”

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Charles Leclerc: “I’ll be a little careful with that. I think it went well, it was a positive test to be honest. But Bahrain is a very special circuit with very high temperatures, so it’s not like warming up is a very big problem. Everything went really well but let’s be careful because these are conditions that should help this test.”

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