Pirelli vote could hurt Red Bull

Dr. Helmut Marko made a startling admission following the Canadian Grand Prix that the Red Bull cars were not the quickest during the Montreal weekend. “Thank God we succeeded,” the veteran Austrian said. “We never thought it possible to join the elite club of teams with a hundred victories. It certainly wasn’t easy.

“We had problems getting our tyres up to temperature, especially with the hard tyres. The race was more difficult than we had anticipated.”



Red Bull not the fastest car in Canada

Marko concluded: ”I have to say, thank God Ferrari had to start so far back, because they were actually the fastest on both compounds.”

It appears the 2023 Pirelli F1 tyres are bamboozling even the most experienced race engineers as each weekend in changeable conditions a variety of teams are jostling for the number two slot behind Red Bull.

As part of their push for carbon net zero, the FIA have tasked the Italian manufacturer to develop F1 tyres which do not need pre-heating in the blankets the teams presently use.

The maximum temperature the tyres can be pre-heated to has been coming down year on year as Pirelli has been developing a glide path to remove the need to pre-heat the tyres. However they abandoned their target to reduce the present 70 degrees celsius max to 50 degrees following an unsatisfactory end of season test in Abu Dhabi.The plan now is to remove the blankets all together for 2024.

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Russell criticises new Pirelli rubber

None of the F1 drivers are particularly enamoured with the proposed ban on tyre warmers and the different kind of compounds this will require.

George Russell is the latest to speak out against the 2024 tyre Pirelli recently brought to a test following the Spanish Grand Prix.

“If I’m being totally honest,” said Russell, “I don’t think we as a sport are at a position yet to bring these tyres into a racing scenario.

“I would be very concerned for all the mechanics in the pit lane during a pitstop, I’d be very concerned for the out lap from a race in cold conditions.

“There will be crashes, I have no doubt about it.”



Drivers will adapt driving style says Pirelli

Yet a number of motorsport categories including Indycar, which is probably the closest single seater category to F1, don’t use tyre warmers. Yet the drivers do have to adapt their driving when first putting on fresh tyres.

Often an Indycar driver will have to concede a position as he brings the tyres in to another driver whose rubber is already up to temperature.

This is something  Pirelli engineer Simone Berra believes the F1 drivers may have to do whilst adapting their driving style on the cold tyres.

“ln terms of safety, I don’t see from the data that I’ve seen any specific risk. You need to change the way you are driving in the first lap for sure,” he said.

“Drivers will have to adapt their driving style, even to protect the tyre because you can generate graining even if you push too much in the first corners and the tyre is not up to temperature.



Tricky in cold conditions

“I respect the drivers’ opinion, that’s for sure. But I think that obviously there will be differences compared to the old products and all the tyre management.”

Bera believes it will be ‘trickier’ in cold conditions for the drivers but Pirelli’s data clearly demonstrates by the end of sector one in Barcelona the tyres were delivering the same performance as the current pre-heated version.

“Drivers need to think about the fact that not using the blankets is different than today,” he added.

“So they have to approach the out-lap in a different way. Obviously it could be, in cold conditions, trickier to bring up the temperature for the tyres.

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Only a difference for sector 1

“I think it’s just a matter of doing the first portion of the lap, the first sector.

“Generally we can see much more difference compared to other sectors. Already sector two and sector three are in line with the lap times with the blankets usage.

“So it’s just a matter of really managing the first few corners, being careful, obviously.”

Pirelli have a final tyre test planned for the week following the British Grand Prix before the big vote on the new ambient temperature tyres.



Hamilton comments dismissed

It appears it will require five teams in favour of the move for Formula One to enforce the tyres for 2024 something the FIA is very keen upon.

Both Mercedes drivers have been vocal in opposition to the proposed change with Lewis Hamilton claiming the drivers will use more fuel getting the tyres up to temperature.

This of course is not true given they will have to drive more slowly until the rubber is up to temperature.

Hamilton complains about the car



New tyres could wipe out Red Bull advantage

Its hardly surprising that Hamilton and Russell are anti the tyre warmer ban given their W14 car finds it difficult to generate tyre temperature this season.

However, given the dark art that is F1 tyre aerodynamics and setup, before voting down the Pirelli proposal the teams should think long and hard about the decision.

The effect of such a radical change could well upset the well oiled Red Bull machine and bring them back towards the rest of the field before the next big regulation changes in 2026.

READ MORE: Ricciardo accepts midfield team return to F1

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