Max Verstappen, the recently-crowned F1 world champion, has seen the sport back down from their planned rule change to tyre preparation next year.
The Red Bull ace voiced his concern about the major change mooted over the use of tyre blankets next season. Other drivers, including Britain’s McLaren racer Lando Norris, joined forces to oppose the plans.
Tyre blankets are used to help the tyres gain instant grip when they head out on track. This season teams have been allowed to heat tyres up to a maximum of 70 degrees Celsius, cooler than the 2021 rules when front tyres could be heated up to 100 degrees before being fitted to cars and back tyres to 80 degrees.
F1 chiefs wanted to reduce that figure to 50 degrees next year, so they ordered a Pirelli tyre test during practice ahead of the United States Grand Prix at the end of October.
Drivers tended to struggle to control the rear ends of their cars on colder rubber using harder 2023 compounds. The consensus was that it proved tricky to get these warmed up on track, resulting in a plethora of traction problems.
Verstappen almost spun in the pit lane and explained at the time that he feared the risk of crashes at high speeds could become commonplace.
The Dutchman told the press conference: “If we have the tyre blankets anyway, why don’t we use them to the fullest because they are there. I would go full blankets or zero because we have them already, we don’t need to get new ones.
“Tyre degradation is going to be completely different because your tyres are very cold, you will be sliding around for the first few laps and your tyre pressures will go through the roof.”
The wisdom of ditching F1 tyre blankets questioned by drivers including Max
Despite the criticism of the behaviour of the prototype tyres at Austin, there remain plans within the sport for tyre blankets to be banned in 2024. However, if enough drivers do object then the F1 chiefs may make a U-turn on this decision.
Tyre maker Pirelli are in the process of creating brand new compounds to offset the grip problem for when tyre blankets have been scrapped altogether.
Mario Isola, the Pirelli motorsport director, explained to The Race website: “I don’t believe it is dangerous. But in Austin, which is a high-energy circuit, we had some issues with the warm-up.
“After listening to the drivers, we started to consider that if Austin is a high-severity circuit with very good weather conditions and they had an issue with a warm-up then what happens at street circuits, low-severity circuits with smooth Tarmac, or in poor conditions?”
With the 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar recently announced, drivers will undoubtedly be delighted that the opening race is at Bahrain in March. The track surface, made out of graywacke aggregate from Bayston Hill quarry in England, offers an exceptionally high level of grip at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Belgium-born Verstappen will be eager to make it a hat-trick of F1 driver’s titles when he faces a record-breaking 24 races over a period of 38 weeks to navigate.
Verstappen is already the clear favourite for F1 2023
Already the odds from LeoVegas have double world champion Verstappen as the clear favourite for next season, and backing anyone else to win a Grand Prix seems a high risk. LeoVegas, a Swedish Mobile Gaming Group, is more than just a sportsbook and proving to be one of the most popular providers of online casino services in the UK according to slots reviews by online-slot.co.uk.
August remains as the traditional summer break for 2023. There are changes to race dates with the Belgium Grand Prix moved to the end of July as a back-to-back with Hungary, while the Netherlands Grand Prix is twinned with Italy after the restart.
Races in China and Qatar both return to the calendar, but the razzmatazz of Las Vegas should drum up plenty of interest. This temporary circuit will be the penultimate round for a Saturday night race before the season concludes at Abu Dhabi in September.
With two more races than usual next year, the feast of F1 should suit Verstappen unless tyre rule changes are implemented midway through the season that could dilute the domination of the traditional top three teams of Ferrari, Mercedes and Ferrari.