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Abolish tyre warmers in F1? WEC shows how dangerous it is

Abolish tyre warmers in F1? WEC shows how dangerous it is

1 May - 18:32 Last update: 19:01


It was George Russell's excuse after Max Verstappen came to seek redress after the sprint race in Azerbaijan. "I had cold tyres," the Mercedes driver cited as the reason for the contact with the Red Bull. Tyres not reaching the right temperature has long been a problem in Formula 1. In fact, if tyre warmers are abolished, very dangerous situations can arise, according to evidence in the World Endurance Championship. In the WEC, there are already calls for a return of tyre warmers.

The FIA plans to abolish tyre warmers from 2024. Lewis Hamilton already let it be known that he absolutely disagrees with this intention and fears dangerous situations. No doubt the seven-time world champion saw what happened last weekend during the WEC race on a drying and cold track at Spa-Francorchamps. Tyre warmers are now banned in the WEC.

'Major safety implications'

Participants in the 6 Hours of Spa struggled to get their tyres up to temperature and slips even occurred because the tyres were too cold. Ferrari's factory team was the biggest victim, seeing a podium finish slip through its fingers because of a crash by Antonio Fuoco. He returned to the track after a tyre change, and on exiting the pit lane he hit the wall on his tyres that were too cold. End of the race for the Italian team, which has been competing in the world championship with two hypercars since this season.

Antonello Coletta, one of the executives at Ferrari, informed the media, including GPblog, after the race that the rules need to be changed: "Starting from the assumption that the rules are the same for everyone and that we abide by them, I think we need to reflect on the ban on tyre warmers."

"It’s a common opinion in the paddock and among professionals, not to mention the drivers, that this situation has become dangerous. At Spa, there have been many accidents and extreme episodes due to cold temperatures and changeable weather, and it’s time to do some serious thinking on the matter because it has major ramifications for safety."

Racing in the dark

When temperatures are low, it is extra difficult to warm up the tyres. Formula 1 features the requisite evening races, and it is naturally colder in the dark. Some of the races in the WEC are also in the dark, such as the most important long-distance race of the year. "We are on the eve of a decisive race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans where, overnight, temperatures are low and speeds very high. It’s not just an issue for us."

In other words: There needs to be a change in regulations within a few weeks, Ferrari man Coletta believes. "The accidents involved different cars, from different classes, driven at the time by both professional and gentleman drivers, and this situation had already been predicted some time ago.”

It is also predicted for Formula 1: if the FIA goes ahead with plans to ban tyre warmers, accidents are going to happen. The question is whether the FIA cares about the lessons currently being learned by the teams in the WEC.