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F1 teams set to reject blanket-free slick tyres for 2024

Formula 1 teams appear unlikely to support a move to introduce blanket-free slick tyres in 2024 when a decision is made at the end of next month.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Pirelli

Team bosses have been cautious about coming out against the new tyres in public, but equally they have shown little enthusiasm for the change, and it’s believed that most do not want it to happen.

Drivers are not keen on the new tyres, with the Grand Prix Drivers' Association director George Russell – who tested the most recent iteration – making it clear that he believes they will be “dangerous”.

Blankets were originally supposed to be gone in 2024, but the rules were changed to keep them with the option to change back if Pirelli could demonstrate by the end of the July that it had developed a tyre that could get the job done.

The company has already introduced blanket-free wets, which were used for the first time in Monaco, but its attempt to bring its new inters for Singapore was rebuffed by the teams.

Meanwhile, slick tyre development has been ongoing, with the most recent test conducted by Mercedes and Ferrari at Barcelona earlier this month.

The last test before the decision is made will be at Silverstone after the British GP, and will involve Red Bull, Williams and Haas.

If the FIA believes that Pirelli has made a strong case the decision will then go to a vote of the teams.

"I think we'll reserve judgment until we've done a test," said Red Bull’s Christian Horner when asked by Autosport about the tyre decision.

"Daniel [Ricciardo] is going to drive the car at the test, and we will get the feedback from that running and then I'm sure Pirelli will make the right decision.

"I don't think it's what the drivers want. But my fear with these things is that when you think you're going to achieve something simplistically that would create better racing, that there will then be a whole lot of effort go into trying to heat tyres very quickly, on out-laps and so on, that could drive a lot more cost in.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Pirelli

"Everybody has tyre blankets, they do the job. I think what we should be looking at is sustainable ways of powering those tyre blankets as opposed to removing them."

Mercedes technical director James Allison, whose team conducted the most recent 2024 tyre test, suggested that the tyres are not yet ready.

"I'd say that the early look at running without blankets, it's not exactly a done deal to think that that's going to be a good thing next year,” he said. "I'd say there's plenty of challenge to make that work."

Williams team principal James Vowles also indicated that the new tyres have yet to be fully proven, while conceding that the Silverstone test would give his team more data.

"My view is a very pragmatic one," he told Autosport. "Show us a tyre where you take the blankets off and it performs. And it performs whether it's Spa and five degrees or whether we're in Bahrain and 40 degrees, and happily I'll sign up to it because I think it's a good step.

"At the moment we haven't fully seen a tyre that’s capable of doing it. The test will help and give us another bullet point to it. Reading between the lines, I don't think we're quite there yet. But the direction of travel is good."

Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer suggested that blankets are part of the “essence” of F1.

"We had a plan, run the tyres understand them and how good they are," said the American. "Once that happens, I'm confident we'll make a good decision.

"It’s really hard to know, really hard to be able to answer. I think we have a pretty decent show now. And, yeah, there's all sorts of considerations with the tyres.

George Russell, Mercedes

George Russell, Mercedes

Photo by: Pirelli

"There's other series that don't have tyre blankets, but there does come a time where that essence of F1, whatever that is, where maybe tyre blankets is part of it that we should keep."

Aston Martin boss Mike Krack said he trusted the FIA to make the right call on whether or not it even goes to a team vote.

"To be honest, I cannot comment because we have only tested them in Jerez but that was an earlier generation," he said.

"We follow on only as a passenger basically what is happening now. I think the FIA will take the right decision honestly.

"We have a wet that is without blankets. I think we have an intermediate that is almost ready to run without. And then we see what happens to the slicks.

"But I think we need to trust the FIA that they take the right decision for next year. It's up to FIA proposing a vote or not. So the FIA takes the first step.

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"What we need to we need to do is try to have as much info as we can have for the moment that there is voting, and then take a decision."

One intriguing aspect of the July decision is that should the blanket-free tyres be rejected for 2024 Pirelli is likely put development on hold in the coming months until it knows the result of the tyre tender, and whether or not it will still be in F1, for a second attempt to introduce them in 2025.

If it loses the deal to a rival then clearly the programme will be abandoned completely.

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