Drivers uneasy about potential loss of tyre warmers: “There’s going to be an incident”

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By Lenny Sundahl

Drivers are speaking out about the latest attempt to take tyre warmers out of Formula 1, arguing against the proposal on safety grounds. Later this season will see the warmers removed for wet tires only, and the FIA and the teams will make their decision later this year on whether to completely outlaw the heated blankets that have been targeted for removal on the basis of both cost and energy savings.


The whole point of the tyre warmers is to maximise grip from the moment they’re put on the car, and, while this is a standard practice in other series, these blankets have been a regular feature in Formula 1 for decades. The move has drawn sharp criticism from drivers.

After running on cold tires as part of early 2024 tyre testing with Mercedes and Pirelli, Lewis Hamilton declared during testing that “there is going to be an incident at some stage” if tyre warmers are banned. “When you go out, you are skating around and it is very twitchy. If someone else is on tyres that are working, you can easily collide with them.”


Both Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz also pointed out that any gains made in reduced energy usage from removing the heated blankets would be negated just by the amount of fuel and tyre compound worn out to bring them up to temperature.

“You are burning more fuel, more tyres,” said Sainz. “Even on sustainability, I just don’t understand the philosophy.

These concerns have not fallen on deaf ears. and in speaking in Bahrain, Pirelli’s Formula 1 director Mario Isola sympathized with the drivers’ view. “I understand the point that if on the out-lap one car is ten seconds slower than another car, this creates a speed differential that must be considered.”

He also said that, as sustainability is a major consideration in the potential implementation of this move, so too would be the potential of fuel burn offsetting any other energy savings, and–while he’s confident that Pirelli can produce a tire that reaches the desired performance to offset any losses in grip, he admitted the energy offset was “a very big challenge.”

The next test of these blanket-free tyres will be after the British Grand Prix in July, after which Pirelli, the FIA, and the teams will evaluate the progress toward a tire warmer ban for 2024.

Sainz seemed to be ready to begrudgingly accept the change.

“It is a direction that F1, the FIA and Pirelli have decided to take, so we need to adapt I guess.”