The cost cutting plans: tyre warmers ban

Originally set for a 2009 ban, tyre warmers will be outlawed in F1 from 2010

Originally set for a 2009 ban, tyre warmers will be outlawed in F1 from 2010

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.

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27 comments on The cost cutting plans: tyre warmers ban

  1. Too Good said on 12th December 2008, 19:47

    To compensate the proposed , Bridgestone will have to give sufficient assurance about their tyres and I am sure they will have to go back to drawing board and develop tyres to counter the absence of Tyre warmers. Wouldn’t that be waste of monies :-? Constantly changing specs and regulations has costed more expenses to F1 more than anything.

    Didn’t Michelin publish how constant rule changes costed them more rather than saving any monies, before they pulled out :-?

    Similar waste was change from V10 to V8, where simple solution was to rev limit the V10 engines (which STR used in 2006 season).

    Haven’t FIA/FOTA/FOM learnt their lesson that constants rule/spec changes is more waste of money :-?

    Coming to driver safety , I hope DC is still part of GPDA and leads initiative to oppose the ban.
    I hope for sake of their own safety , LH and KR join GPDA now.

  2. the limit said on 12th December 2008, 20:29

    In regards to the Senna crash years ago, his tyre pressure fell due to the slow speed of the safety car ahead of him. Whatever your opinion, there was more than one contributing factor towards Senna’s death.
    The banning of the tyre warmers is great news, as it means more emphasis will be put on the driver, even more so during wet conditions, to get their tyres up to temperature. This does add to the spectacle, as does a ban on refuelling as it allows us to see the cars start a race on heavy fuel loads, which will also add to the qualifying spectacle on a Saturday.

  3. Pete Walker said on 12th December 2008, 21:08

    I agree that its a step in the right direction and hands a bit more back to the drivers, in as much as managing that first lap on cold rubber. Anything that increases driver input and rewards the more skilled racers gets a thumbs up from me.

    What we need to get to the bottom of though is whether or not the regulations on using both spec tyres in a race will stand. Will there still be pit stops without refuelling? Or will the cold tyres only be a factor on the first laps of a Grand Prix?

    Any ideas, Keith?

  4. it is a stupid idea it will only bring more crashes

  5. Bad sporting decision and very false “cost-saving” argument!

    Fact 1: Is is not like every team has to buy new tyre warmers now, they all have build them years ago. And there are very little costs involved using them.

    Fact 2: Having to heat up the tyres takes away the first 2 rounds of every stint. Every training and every qualifying session now starts with senseless (and costy) heat up rounds.

    Fact 3: According to the drivers the difference between cold and hot tyres is huge, like 10s or more per lap! Qualifying will turn into Complainifying. And it is not like the driver in his out-lap can do anything about it, he will just not be able to not make way for the fast guys, because his car is physically 40 km/h slower in corners than the others.

  6. I seem to recall in around 1992/93 in an interview with Autosport, one of the things Ron Dennis suggested to reduce costs in F1 was to get rid of tyre warmers. It’s taken nearly 16 years for this suggestion to come to pass.

  7. I’m with you Keith, ban the tyre warmers (and refueling, but not the pit stops for tyres…)

    According to the drivers the difference between cold and hot tyres is huge, like 10s or more per lap!

    That figure is based on present ‘slick’ Brigestone tyres, and should go down trough a proper design of the new tyre for 2010. Look at IRL (when they run at circuits) or any tourism car championship: in non of them the cars going out of the pits are impossibly slower than the cars on the track, they’re just a bit slower. That is because those tyres are designed to have a wider temperature range of work. If this wasn’t possible there should be huge accidents every other race in IRL caused by the tyres, and that’s not the case.

    Present F1 tyres are designed to have a great performance in only a small temperature range. Out of that range the tyres have no more grip than a plastic tyre on ice. The only reason why this is possible is that tyre warmers allow to do that, to work at a single (high) temperature. Banning tyre warmers will force Bridgestone to increase the temperature range (not only on safety reasons, but also for the loss of performance on the first laps). Obviously the broader range will bring less grip (is always a compromise), but lowering the grip is another way to improve racing (rain?).

  8. Terry Fabulous said on 12th December 2008, 22:29

    Good point Bbbut about the speed differential. The proposed Qually will be a mess with every car on the track at the same time on cold tyres trying to get a fast lap in.

    HOWEVER

    I am stoked about this decision. Imagine the start of the race! Getting off the line without launch control, laden down with fuel for the entire race and then hitting the first corner on incredibly cold slippery tyres.

    It is going to be AWESOME!!!!!!!

  9. Terry Fabulous said on 12th December 2008, 22:33

    Tom in regard to your fear about having more crashes, cast your mind back 12 months to the discussions about driving cars without traction control in the rain, especially around street circuits.

    It wasn’t the carnage we all forecast since these are the BEST DRIVERS IN THE WORLD and they all adapted. Even supposed muppets like Massa (Yes Yes I did watch Silverstone but otherwise quite good you would agree?).

  10. Banning tire warmers will increase development costs as new tire heating methods, perhaps ovens or kilns, are engineered.

  11. Speed Demon said on 12th December 2008, 22:58

    I’m with Keith and have thought much the same since the ban was mooted originally. No I don’t buy the cost argument particularly, I still welcome the change all the same.

    Frankly, I can’t for the life of me think what all the fuss is about. Not to sound too much like Alan Jones trying to find kind words for his old mucker ‘Lole’, but have the drivers turned into big girls’ blouses all of a sudden? Is not part of the skill of driving being able to balance the car’s speed against the available grip? And aren’t these supposedly the crème de la crème of motorsport?

    Now, I fully accept that there will be a disparity in speeds involved when a car exits the pits on cold tyres and has to battle with a competitor whose Bridgestones are fully up to temperature and pressure. But surely that is just a valid a skill as any other in a racing driver’s armoury – and as we are talking about the pinnacle of motor racing, this really should be part of the art of winning the title. Shouldn’t it?

    Besides, what is the difference between this and the massive disparities in lap times experienced in the rather difficult conditions at Silverstone, Spa and Interlagos, when drivers found themselves tootling round at just the wrong moment against others running tyres 14-20 seconds a lap quicker? Did the sky fall in (raindrops don’t count!) or some other hysteria-inducing event unfold? No, what we had instead was a series of thrilling races which separated the men from the boys and provided the (very damp) crowd with something to be thankful for. Possibly only Felipe Massa could disagree! And please don’t tell me that drivers who pirouetted off did so because of cold tyres – no they simply aquaplaned on standing water.

    In any case, Champ Car drivers seemed to cope pretty well with the cold tire arrangements while racing on concrete-lined ovals at 220mph (just ask Juan Pablo Montoya). I don’t see that many tire blankets employed by NASCAR for that matter. Yes, it is true that tyre warmers have become fairly ubiquitous elsewhere even down to club level racing, but in an age where even more drastic technical solutions are being considered to spice up the F1 show and cut costs, surely this one is a no-brainer?

  12. S Hughes said on 12th December 2008, 23:51

    Too Good, I’ve just read your comment before the others but I presume (could be wrong) that most agree. I’m fed up with this tinkering with the rules. It doesn’t seem to be making things better and as you say, all these changes must cost more money as teams have to go back to the drawing board again and again. I think the maniacs in charge should be swept away with a very large brush, and sane people be put in charge. Also, it they did market research on the medal system, it would be blown out of the water. If they do bring in the medal system, it will show how dishonest those at the top of F1 are.

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2008, 0:41

    Too Good – Bridgestone have stacks of experience in producing such tyres, I am sure it is not beyond their abilities, and they’ll only have to do it once. In that respect it’s a one-off cost versus a long-term expense.

    Pete Walker – I bet the ‘use two compounds’ regulation will stay, although I’m not a fan of it. It doesn’t achieve anything bar giving Bridgestone a bit of publicity.

    Bbbut – I think a lot of the expense is probably operation of tyre warmers, rather than buying them. They must use a lot of energy.

    As Guille2306 says, I doubt F1 cars will end up stuck with 10s/lap speed differentials on cold tyres versus new once the final tyres are ready.

    Chunter – Down to the regulations to stop that sort of thing. Presumably they’d prohibit ‘artificial heat generation’ or some such.

    Speed Demon –

    I fully accept that there will be a disparity in speeds involved when a car exits the pits on cold tyres and has to battle with a competitor whose Bridgestones are fully up to temperature and pressure. But surely that is just a valid a skill as any other in a racing driver’s armoury – and as we are talking about the pinnacle of motor racing, this really should be part of the art of winning the title. Shouldn’t it?

    That’s my viewpoint entirely. If IRL drivers can cope with it, so can F1 drivers. (And I like the IRL, by the way!)

  14. John Harding said on 13th December 2008, 1:14

    The energy used to heat tyre warmers must be absolutely miniscule compared to powering just one of those Singapore lights over a weekend.

    By all means I agree with getting rid of them, but it’s surely got nothing to do with cost cutting.

  15. Peter said on 13th December 2008, 3:32

    Ofcourse it has nothing to do with cost cutting. It has everything to do with more exiting qualifying and racing. I’m all for banning tire warmers. Every other series seems to manage without tyre warmers I don’t see how f1 can’t.

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