Tyre warmers set for 2009 ban

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Red Bull tyre warmer, Bahrain, 2008, 470150

Bridgestone is standing firm by its desire to see tyre warmers banned next year despite strong opposition from some teams and drivers. Director of motorsport tyre development Hirohide Hamashima said:

Bridgestone has said to the FIA that we have confidence in (producing) a good specification of tyres, in terms of grip and handling, without tyre warmers.

However some drivers feel there is a serious safety risk in banning tyre warmers.

As I’ve explained here before I think tyre warmers should be banned. However it’s been one of those situations where I explain my point of view and lots of people disagree with me because 65% of you voted against a tyre warmer ban when we last did a poll on it.

However I’m standing by my point of view (for now – I’m always open to persuasion!) because I’m not convinced that it is impossible for Bridgestone to create a slick tyre that can heat up quickly without tyre warmers being needed. After all, tyre warms are banned in many other single-seater championships and racing series that see similar speeds to Formula 1.

Nor am I convinced that the speed different between drivers on cold tyres and drivers on hot tyres is as big a concern as it is being portrayed as. In other championships where different classes of cars compete on the same track at the same time with vastly different speeds. In the Le Mans 24 Hours next weekend the fastest cars will lap the Circuit de la Sarthe in three and a half minutes, the slowest in four and a half minutes – and those guys race at night!

However I do think the drivers concerns about safety should be listened to and that is what Bridgestone appear to be doing. In December when the 2009-specification slicks were first tested David Coulthard raised concerns about the variations in tyre pressures.

So Bridgestone brought new compounds and when the teams tested them again in April they found they were better – although some drivers felt more could be done. As far as Bridgestone are concerned, the tyres are fine as long as the teams don’t try to get an advantage by fiddling with their pressures:

The real concern is minimum pressure. They worry about minimum pressure. We suggest a minimum pressure to teams because we would like to keep tyres safe, but some teams will take a risk – and cheat. Other teams are worried about that, so they would like to keep the tyre warmers.

Finally I think we should remember that when tyre warmers were first used in F1 in the mid-1980s it wasn’t for safety reasons, it was to give drivers a performance advantage by reducing how long it took their tyres to heat up.

By removing them it will put more emphasis on the driver’s skill rather than the speed of their car. As far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing.

2009 F1 season