Pirelli’s simple solution to George Russell’s worrying crash prediction

Michelle Foster
Pirelli hard tyre in focus. Zandvoort September 2022.

Pirelli hard tyre in focus alongside other compounds. Zandvoort September 2022.

Pirelli have told the drivers if they’re worried about more crashes if tyre blankets are banned that it’s up to them to “adapt their driving style”.

Formula 1 is facing a crunch vote in the coming weeks with the teams set to have their say on whether or not to press ahead with banning tyre blankets from next season onwards.

The drivers have been testing the revised rubber, Pirelli having to create new tyres to cope with the lack of pre-heating, with George Russell recently putting in the laps at the Barcelona circuit.

The Mercedes driver wasn’t overly impressed and warned Formula 1 could be risking the drivers’ safety if they ban tyre blankets.

“If I’m being totally honest,” he said, “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.”

However, Pirelli engineer Simone Berra, while saying he respect the drivers’ opinions, believes it’s simply a case of them having to adjust their driving style to get the tyres to work.

“ln terms of safety, I don’t see from the data that I’ve seen any specific risk. You need to change the way you are driving in the first lap for sure,” he said.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Pirelli under the pump ahead of F1’s crunch tyre blanket ban vote

New F1 tyre rival emerges for Pirelli in race for next FIA tender contract

“Drivers will have to adapt their driving style, even to protect the tyre because you can generate graining even if you push too much in the first corners and the tyre is not up to temperature.

“I respect the drivers’ opinion, that’s for sure. But I think that obviously there will be differences compared to the old products and all the tyre management.”

A lot of that management will need to be carried out on the drivers’ out-laps, which Berra concedes will be “trickier” in cold conditions.

But he says Pirelli’s data shows that already by sector two on a lap the tyres are at the same lap as they are today with blanket warmers.

“Drivers need to think about the fact that not using the blankets is different than today,” he added.

“So they have to approach the out-lap in a different way. Obviously it could be, in cold conditions, trickier to bring up the temperature for the tyres.

“I think it’s just a matter of doing the first portion of the lap, the first sector.

“Generally we can see much more difference compared to other sectors. Already sector two and sector three are in line with the lap times with the blankets usage.

“So it’s just a matter of really managing the first few corners, being careful, obviously.”

Pirelli will carry out their final test of the potential 2024 tyres after the British Grand Prix after which the teams and the FIA will vote.