Pirelli will compromise on Formula 1 tire blanket temperatures for 2023 but will still work towards removing the blankets completely a year later, despite driver concerns.
During the Pirelli tire test in Circuit of The Americas on USGP weekend, the teams ran with tires that had only been heated to 50 degrees Celsius (122F) prior to running — down from 70C/158F as the limit currently stands — with the intention to introduce such a reduction in 2023. However, the initial feedback from drivers was that it made the cars so difficult to handle that there would be multiple crashes, as current designs are not intended for such cold tires. Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola says a better change was discovered a week later in Mexico.
“After Austin… I know the drivers were not happy about the warm-up phase,” Isola told RACER. “It’s difficult because when you test the tire at 70 degrees and then you have an immediate comparison at 50 degrees, it’s clear that the warm-up is worse. But I listened to the drivers, as we always do, and we made some additional analysis.
“One of those was to consider (warming the tires at) 70 degrees for two hours and not 70 degrees at three hours as it is now. We found that you can still stabilize the temperature in the two hours but you save more energy than dropping the temperature to 50 degrees.
“So the idea was let’s go for two hours at 70 degrees in Mexico and we tested with this blanket strategy last Friday, then during the drivers’ briefing I explained what we did – in Austin we had this situation, in Mexico this situation, what do you prefer? Everybody said we prefer to stay on 70 degrees for two hours and that’s the plan for the future.”
Despite the issues faced with dropping the temperatures on the current tires, Isola says the removal of all blankets is still set to come into effect, with Pirelli now aware it must create a totally new product as a result.
“That’s the plan for 2024. This intermediate step was to try to reduce the energy step-by-step. We know from the test in Austin that to remove the blankets we have to design a completely new tire – not just the construction but all the five compounds, so this is a good indication that came from Austin and now we work for 2024 with this target in mind.”