David Coulthard has appealed to F1 s rulemakers to reverse their intention to ban tyre-warming blankets from 2009. Tyre-warmers are being ditched along with grooved tyres in their place, cars will run on slick tyres and a lower downforce aerodynamic set-up.
However Coulthard believes that the lack of tyre warmers will make the sport more dangerous and could also increase running costs something which Formula 1 bosses are trying to reduce. “I would not favour banning tyre blankets, because I think you would increase testing costs,” he said. “We would have to do more laps than is currently necessary just to bring the tyres up to a representative temperature.
“I think it is a ludicrous idea to ban them. Look at winter testing – You have got tyres that are designed to operate at 50 degree track temperatures and we were testing at 15 degree track temperatures at Barcelona. How many laps do you think you have do to get the tyres up to the normal temperature they are when we are racing?
“You would also have to run the tyres at lower pressures when you first went out on to the track to allow the air inside to expand when they heated up – and that can be dangerous. Looking back, low tyre pressures were thought to be a potential contributory factor in Ayrton Senna’s fatal accident. I think there are a lot of arguments from a safety point of view to take away tyre blankets.”
Coulthard also explained that tyre warmers are not a big cost for teams and it helps them maintain quality control.
“It’s actually one of the less expensive items that we use in a grand prix team,” Coulthard explained. “And, because the team’s technicians fit the tyre warmers themselves, they get to visualise and check the wheels and tyres much more than they would is if the wheels just came straight from the tyre fitters and were fitted on the car. There is that extra layer of attention to detail. It’s just a safer way to do it.”