World champion Max Verstappen is predicting “a lot of crashes” if Formula 1 continues to phase out the use of tyre-warming blankets.
The phase-out has already begun, with the pre-heated temperature limit reducing further to 50C next year – before a full blanket ban from 2024.
The F1 drivers got a taste of life at 50C on Friday during Pirelli’s testing of proposed 2023 compounds in an extended practice session in Mexico.
“I probably had the hardest tyre, so the slowest one, but it wasn’t particularly fun,” said quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel.
2021 and 2022 drivers’ title winner Verstappen agrees: “No, it’s not fun.
“In Austin, I almost spun in the pitlane! Ok, it was a hard compound, but it was a big step.
“But what I really don’t understand is that if we have the blankets, why don’t we use them completely? For me, either we have them or we don’t. Everything in between is pointless.
“I’ll predict it now: there will be a lot of crashes. You just slide around in the first few laps and the pressures will go through the roof.
“I don’t even want to think about how it’s going to work on a damp day in Monaco. We’ll probably need half the race to bring the tyres up to temperature.”
The Dutchman thinks Formula 1 is being naive by thinking that a progressive tyre blanket ban is appropriate.
“In my free time, I drive a GT3 without tyre warmers,” said the Red Bull driver.
“But those cars are much more forgiving and much easier to manage than F1. Because here, with the power we have, you push a little too much on the gas and you have a big accident.”
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen agrees.
“I don’t think Pirelli, the FIA and Formula 1 really understand how difficult it is to warm up these tyres even when they come out at 70C. I think it’s a safety problem,” he said.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, on the other hand, thinks Formula 1 will react in the right way to make the phased-in tyre blanket ban workable.
“With the current tyres, it would be impossible in some cases,” the Finn admits.
“If you made a pitstop on a hard tyre without tyre warmers, it would definitely be very risky. Or on a street circuit with completely cold tyres, the rubber would be more like plastic.
“But if the tire changes and it has been designed to run in much, much lower temperatures, then why not?” Bottas said.
“I think everyone has given their feedback, most of the drivers I think weren’t very enthusiastic – at least with these tyres.
“But if the compound is different, if it works in both hot and cold, why not?”