Just weeks before the crunch vote on banning tyre blankets, George Russell says if F1 presses ahead with its plans to ban the warming blankets there “will be crashes”, of that he has no doubt.
Formula 1 will vote after the British Grand Prix as to whether or not to ban tyre warming blankets in 2024.
Pirelli believe they are ready, barring a few tweaks, to cope with the ban, which is part of F1’s sustainability drive, and have been testing revised tyres over the past few months with Russell one of the latest drivers to trail the rubber.
The Briton was in action along with Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher at the Barcelona circuit last week where, together with Ferrari, they covered over 600 laps using the trial tyres.
While Russell had few complaints on the day, the Briton fears cooler track conditions will, never mind might, mean more crashes.
“In hindsight, it probably wasn’t tested in the right conditions at the right circuit,” he said as per Motorsport.com.
“I think if you go to a circuit such as Barcelona, which is quite an aggressive tarmac, it was 40-odd degree track temperature, fully rubbered from the race weekend. The tyres were very sketchy coming out of the pit lane, but by about Turn 5 on the out lap, it was at a respectable level.
“But if I compare that in contrast with the start of the year, when I did one run in Jerez in 10-degree track temperature, it was extremely difficult getting out of the pits. And if I’m being totally honest, 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.
“And I think there’s a lot of work, expense, development going into these tyres. I feel like that could be put elsewhere.”
Charles Leclerc, who was also present for the Barcelona test, was also asked for his feelings on the proposed tyre blanket ban.
“I think it’s too early and I don’t have all the answers for now,” said the Monégasque driver.
“I have to say that in the conditions that I had during the test, it was good, and it went well. But yeah, in lower temperatures, I don’t know. I haven’t tested these tyres in lower temperatures and that’s where the big question mark is.
“So, very difficult to answer whether I will be happy to go.
“I would like to maybe test those tyres in different conditions and then see whether they are raceable in all conditions. But again, it was a positive test with the conditions that we’ve had in Barcelona.”
Pirelli have themselves admitted they’re not yet ready for the post-British Grand Prix vote with Mario Isola saying: “There are still just a few details to fine-tune, while during this test we began to identify a solid development base for the compounds; especially for the middle of what will be the 2024 range.”