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Formula 1 Bahrain February Testing

Hamilton: F1 tyre blanket ban "dangerous" and "pointless"

Lewis Hamilton thinks Formula 1 has embarked on a "dangerous" and "pointless exercise" in its quest to ban tyre blankets. 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, carries his crash helmet in the pit lane

As reported by Motorsport.com on Friday, F1 teams, the FIA and FOM are all due to hold a vote after this year’s British Grand Prix to decide whether or not to go ahead with a ban on tyre warming. 

There have been many attempts in the past to outlaw tyre blankets, on both costs and sustainability grounds, but each time the efforts have been abandoned because of complications in coming up with suitable rubber. 

Tyres that are not pre-heated need to cope with dramatic swings in temperature and pressure, which is technically complicated, and drivers have voiced concern about the lack of grip that will be offered by tyres that are cold when fresh out of the pits. 

Pirelli has been working hard on trying to come up with the right products, and hopes that by the time it tests its latest specifications after the Silverstone race, it can be enough to convince teams to agree with it. 

However, there remains deep scepticism within the paddock about whether or not the move should go ahead. 

Speaking during pre-season testing in Bahrain, Hamilton voiced his own worries about the move – and suggested that there was no benefit to the change happening. 

“I think it’s dangerous” he said, when asked by Motorsport.com about the tyre blanket situation. 

“I’ve tested the no blankets, and there is going to be an incident at some stage. So, I think it is the wrong decision.  

“You have to drive multiple laps to get the tyres to work. The whole argument is that taking away the blankets is going more sustainable and more green, but in actual fact we just burn more fuel to get the temperature into the tyres.  

“The more concern is when you go out: you are skating around and it is very twitchy. If someone else is on tyres that are working, you can easily collide with them. So, it is a pointless exercise.” 

Hamilton’s questions about the benefits of the ban have been echoed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz

“I still don’t understand why F1 are moving away from blankets, because for me it makes no sense,” he explained. 

“You are burning more fuel, more tyres. Even on sustainability, I just don’t understand the philosophy. Also there are risks with these lower ride height cars.  

“But it is a direction that F1, the FIA and Pirelli have decided to take, so we need to adapt I guess.” 

The Mercedes pit crew with tyres in warmers

The Mercedes pit crew with tyres in warmers

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Pirelli’s F1 and motorsport director Mario Isola said that the final call on the blankets would need to take into account more than just sustainability, and he said he was not sure if teams would ultimately support it.

"I don't have a clear feeling, and honestly it is difficult to make a prediction," he said. 

"I believe that it's a target of everyone to go in this direction for sustainability, but clearly nobody wants to damage the show. 

"I don't want to say it's an impossible target, because it is not an impossible target. But it's a very big challenge.”  

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