A Step Forward Amidst Uncertainty

Pirelli, in their bold attempt to introduce blanket-less Formula 1 tyres in 2024, made strides with an “encouraging” post-Bahrain Grand Prix test. Yet, the drivers’ perspectives on this innovative change remain somewhat “cautious.”

Participating teams—Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and AlphaTauri—tested the latest constructions as Pirelli endeavors to finalize the decision after a pivotal Silverstone test in July.

The Swings in Driver Sentiments

Lewis Hamilton previously dubbed the tyres “dangerous” after a chilly test at Paul Ricard in February. However, the Sakhir test showcased a more promising performance, largely attributed to the warmer conditions and the high-severity nature of the track surface.

Pirelli F1 boss, Mario Isola, acknowledged the importance of the Bahrain test. He stated that discovering issues like excessively long warm-up times would have meant a far greater challenge than anticipated.

A Diverse Range of Driver Opinions

Drivers who participated in the Sakhir test expressed varying opinions. Charles Leclerc from Ferrari conveyed optimism but admitted the track’s favorable nature for the new tyres.

“I will be a little bit cautious with that,” he said. Leclerc emphasized the unique nature of Bahrain’s track, which has higher temperatures, and thus warm-up is less of a concern.

Conversely, Valtteri Bottas from Alfa questioned the wisdom of moving away from blankets. He pointed out that although the tyres performed adequately in Bahrain, warm-up remains an issue without blankets. Bottas expressed personal doubts about the future of blanket-less tyres.

A Long Road Ahead: The Decision Looms

Despite the promising test results, Isola admitted there is much to be done before the FIA, F1, and teams finalize the decision in July.

“It’s a bit early to make a prediction,” he said. Pirelli has been testing various solutions with the goal of defining the construction and then focusing on compounds.

Isola believes that after the Silverstone test, a better understanding of the future of blanket-less tyres will emerge.

WEC’s Leap of Faith

It’s worth noting that the World Endurance Championship, employing Michelin tyres, has already banned tyre warmers. They recently held their first race without them at Sebring. Will Formula 1 follow suit? Only time will tell.