Pirelli baffled as F1 teams reach verdict on introduction of blanket-free intermediates

Jamie Woodhouse
F1 cars heading on track at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023. Results

Cars heading on track at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola has “no answer” for why teams have put a stopper on their plan to launch intermediates which do not need pre-heating in tyre blankets.

It was in Monaco where F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli reached an important milestone in the efforts from F1 to remove tyre blankets from the equation as of 2024, with a full wet tyre in use for the first time where all tyre temperature was generated by the drivers.

The next stage was to roll out an intermediate compound which also did not need tyre blankets, and Pirelli had the Singapore Grand Prix in mind, with the matter going to vote over the Monaco GP and needing a majority, at least eight teams out of 10 in support, to be pushed through.

That majority could not though be raised.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Isola said: “Usually we have some races with rain, like Suzuka, for example, and it was a good opportunity to test them before the end of the season.

“The problem is that to test them as an additional prototype is difficult because we should send them everywhere in the world.

“I was talking to the FIA, offering the intermediate for Singapore, and then they came back to me saying no.

“The teams didn’t agree. Unfortunately, we had more than two teams against, because we needed eight teams in favour.”

The verdict left Isola feeling a little taken aback, especially considering the general lack of negative feedback to the full wets, which since Monaco have also been in use at the Canadian GP.

And to this point he is still at a loss as for why the teams could not muster up majority support.

“That’s a good question. But I don’t have an answer, honestly,” he confirmed.

PlanetF1.com recommends

FIA provide major update on DRS future as deadline for new F1 rules looms

Five iconic F1 drivers that failed to reach their full potential: Alonso, Raikkonen and more

Canada was the first time that the entire field used the blanket free full-wets in a rain-soaked FP3, and Williams boss James Vowles shed some light on why certain teams would choose not to vote in favour of the in-season introduction of the inters.

Pointing out that not all teams have been involved in Pirelli’s intermediates testing programme, Vowles also suggested that parts of the grid will have been wary of voting through those inters without having had the chance to see how the wets performed first on-track, with most teams having relied only on testing data ahead of that FP3 outing.

But, with Canada providing that all-important data, Vowles gave hope that all is not lost for Pirelli’s plans for the inters.

“On the wets, there was some really good evidence that they were working properly, enough running in enough mixed conditions, although all teams hadn’t run them in testing,” Vowles told Motorsport.com.

“Before we go on the inters, before that decision point, no one other than the teams that had tested had run the extreme wet tyres. Monaco was the first time actually in the race that they were run. And it wasn’t perfect, it’s a low-energy track in some regard, but it wasn’t perfect.

“And the reason why teams would have voted in a cautious manner is let’s get some results on track with the existing product, and make sure it definitely doesn’t have any ill-sides that we haven’t concluded from some specific testing. And you will get that from what happened here [in Montreal].”

Having received praise from Alpine who most recently tested these inters, hailing them as an “outstanding job” done by Pirelli, Isola highlighted the difficulties of trying to give every team the chance to gather data on them, to Vowles’ point, before looking to introduce them into active competition.

“Clearly, it’s also difficult to try intermediate or wets,” he stated. “It never happened before that we had a full test with all the teams, because you simply cannot organise it.”

Pirelli will be hoping that once teams crunch the numbers on the full wet running in Canada, they will have the assurances they need to ensure that the next vote on the intermediates produces a more positive outcome.