There is a theme destined to become highly topical in the coming months. This is the proposal that aims to abolish electric blankets starting from 2024, a step in the Formula 1 agenda that contains all the measures aimed at achieving the ‘Carbon Neutral’ goal in 2030.
Mercedes (at Paul Ricard) and Aston Martin (at Jerez) have fired up their engines in recent days for a Pirelli test program aimed at obtaining initial feedback which will be useful for evaluating the effects of a major change destined to to discuss.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
On the way to environmental sustainability
The tests that have taken place, and which will continue in the coming months, will be crucial in view of the final decision which should be taken by the end of June. If the abolition of electric blankets were confirmed, the impact in terms of energy savings would be considerable, both in terms of electricity consumption at the competition venue and in terms of transport. But there are many contraindications to take into account, some of which have been known for some time and others which emerged precisely during the first tests carried out to evaluate the effects of using tires at room temperature.
Two rounds are needed
The verified time for the tires to reach the ideal operating window is approximately two laps, with an overall loss of time (compared to warmed tyres) estimated at four to five seconds per lap.
An important gap in the management of a race, which would lead the teams to limit pit-stops to the bare minimum. Without any possibility of an undercut, strategists and drivers would hardly be exposed to the risks of a second stop, with a considerable impact on the spectacular nature of the races.
A lot more traffic in qualifying
The time required for the warm-up would also have an impact on the traffic in qualifying, given the greater number of laps (two or three, depending on the track) that a driver would have to cover at reduced pace before setting off for the fastest lap.
Technical problems that are far from negligible have also emerged, given that with current technology they are difficult to solve. The tires currently used work on average at a pressure of 22 psi, a value that is easily reached starting from the pits with a temperature of 70 degrees and a pressure of about 18 psi.
In the paddock they are discussing whether from 2024 tires will be used without heating the tire warmers
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
An issue that creates… pressure
Exiting the pit lane with a tire at room temperature is a very important change, since the delta to reach operating values is much greater, and involves an increase in pressure of about 9/10 psi.
The problem could be solved by starting from the pits with a very low pressure, around 12/13 psi, but this would lead to significant flattening of the tire and the consequent risk of generating problems in the construction.
If we intervened in the opposite direction, ie leaving the current starting pressure value, we would reach 27/28 psi when fully operational, with an important change in the footprint on the ground. An unimaginable scenario considering the complaints that come from teams and riders every time Pirelli increases the operating pressure by 1 psi.
New buildings with innovative materials
The only way forward is a new generation of tires designed ad hoc, but in any case it would not be a simple challenge for Pirelli. There are two ways out, either a construction with innovative materials that are able to support lower starting pressures without getting damaged or, alternatively, a casing that manages to keep the profile unchanged (without impacting the footprint at earth) even with high pressure values.
The question that arises is the usefulness of introducing such an impacting novelty on the technical front and with potential repercussions on the show in the race as early as 2024.
The FIA and the teams still have a few months to evaluate everything, and it will be interesting to hear the point of view of drivers such as Hamilton, Russell, Alonso and Stroll who have already had the opportunity to verify the various problems on the track.
Pirelli Cinturato full wet tyres
Photo by: Erik Junius
Wets without electric blankets already in 2023?
A change that, on the contrary, could be introduced in a very short time is that relating to wet and intermediate tyres, tires that work at lower temperatures and are less subject to the problems of slicks.
In the tests completed last December, very positive indications emerged from a new generation of wet tires which confirmed a better warm-up than those in use today (with heating in the pits) without tyrewarmers.
It is not excluded that this specification could be introduced as early as 2023, having convinced both Pirelli and the riders who had the opportunity to test them in the test sessions on wet asphalt. However, the favorable vote of at least eight teams in the next Formula 1 Commission will be needed.
Leave a Reply