One of the surprising changes to be announced by the FIA and FOTA was the ban on tyre warmers from the beginning of 2010.
These were originally going to be banned for 2009, but the change was dropped following objections from drivers. Why are they now slated to be banned again?
The FIA clearly feels (and FOTA presumably agrees) that tyre warmers are an unnecessary expense that add nothing to the Formula 1 spectacle. Last time we did a poll on this two-thirds of F1 Fanatic readers were against a ban on tyre warmers. But I agree with the FIA on this one.
“Another Senna situation”?
Few if any other major motor racing series use tyre warmers, which are used to pre-heat tyres before they are put on an F1 car to ensure optimum grip from the moment the driver puts his foot on the accelerator.
It’s exactly a year to the day since David Coulthard reacted to his first test without tyre warmers as “another Senna situation.” He warned that cold tyres would lead to more crashes.
But against the dire safety warnings it must be remembered that tyre warmers were not brought in for safety reasons when they were introduced in the mid-1980s. They were brought in to improve performance by reducing the amount of time it took drivers to get their tyres up to temperature. And it seems practically every other racing series copes well enough without them.
Will it save money?
It’s hard to imagine how great the cost savings of banning tyre warmers would be. However the thermal imaging camera used at some F1 rounds this year showed the pre-heated tyres going onto cars during pit stops were hotter than the tyres coming off the car. That much heating must consume an awful lot of energy.
The FIA will also have to take great care in how it frames the regulation banning tyre warmers to guard against workaround.
Otherwise, I’m all in favour of the tyre warmers ban. It will place a greater emphasis on the drivers’ skill, it will save money (however little) and I’m sure the safety concerns can be addressed.