Formula 1 drivers question the point of banning heated tyre blankets – The sustainable measure could reduce safety
Formula 1 wants to ban heated tyre blankets from the premier class in a bid to improve the sustainability of the series. However, some drivers are taking to the barricades as such a ban could compromise safety in the premier class. Instead of a ban on electric blankets, the riders are calling for more efficient equipment.
The two manufacturers of the tyre heating blankets are KLS from Germany and MA Horne from Great Britain. Both companies want to increase the efficiency of their products and thus reduce power consumption. However, Formula 1 is considering banning the electric blankets in order to reduce energy consumption and thus also reduce the freight required for a Formula 1 race.
The drivers are resisting this, and the Pirelli test with Alpine and Red Bull in Monza at the beginning of September did not convince the drivers either. The electric blankets will certainly still be there in 2024, but Pirelli will continue its testing programme without the units, partly because the manufacturer is the winner of the bidding process to be Formula One’s tyre supplier from 2025 to 2028.
The FIA, the world governing body for automobiles, not only wants to put an end to heated blankets, but also to reduce the number of sets of tyres available to the drivers per race weekend. Some scenarios with an alternative tyre distribution are already being tested. George Russell is one of the opponents of the ban, and the Briton has already made some suggestions.
Even switching off the lights in the hospitalities at the track at night would be a measure that would make sense, according to Russell. “If we want sustainability, we have to do something on all fronts,” says the Mercedes driver. “There are opportunities everywhere: Energy consumption in the pits, hospitality. Freight can also be reduced.”
Mercedes has already taken many measures to reduce its carbon footprint, according to Russell. In Europe, he said, this includes the use of biofuel for the trucks. “A big issue for the future is the ban on heated tyres. Many drivers find it difficult to move a car with 1,000 horsepower and a lot of downforce. Without heated blankets, it’s very dangerous.”
Russell is pushing for a more efficient product and talks of a win-win situation if this tyre-heating blanket can be developed. “We haven’t seen a proper report on the energy consumption of electric blankets,” says the Briton, who wants to see what impact tyre warming has. If there are alternatives that are more efficient, he would prefer to use them.
Still, Russell thinks a future without tyre-heating blankets is realistic, even if the technology won’t be ready for “ten years”. “I think we are still years away from banning heated blankets,” says the Mercedes driver.