Ferrari Tyre Heaters Stir Controversy

Ferrari's recent upturn in qualifying form has almost certainly been helped by the use of special wheel-heating boxes, Autosport-Atlas has learned

Ferrari Tyre Heaters Stir Controversy

The boxes, which were introduced for the first time at the Monaco Grand Prix, have stirred up controversy among some of the team's rivals who have questioned their legality - but Ferrari have been given the all-clear for their use by the FIA.

Ferrari's qualifying struggles at the start of the season were believed to be down to the inability to generate enough heat in their Bridgestone tyres over a single lap. The team spent a great deal of effort trying to find out a way to improve the situation and eventually settled on the use of special tyre heating boxes - which effectively heat both the tyre and the wheel rim.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn revealed recently that outgoing chief designer Rory Byrne had been asked to help focus on improving the qualifying situation now that responsibility for car design had been handed over to Aldo Costa.

"Aldo is responsible for this car, that's given us Rory's capacity to use on other projects," Brawn said in Montreal, during the Canadian Grand Prix. "Rory crosses a lot of disciplines, from his huge experience as a race engineer, as a designer, and on the technical side.

"So it's one of the projects that Rory is involved in, to identify and develop first-lap performance, and try and overcome our weakness. It's just his experience and racing mentality. Rory is a real racer. He'll do anything that's legal to find an advantage. He's a great lateral thinking mind."

The metal box is flat on the bottom and curved at the top and features a device to fix the wheel in the middle - so that there is clear air surrounding the entire wheel, roughly 20 centimetres on all sides.

Autosport-Atlas understands that the inside of the casing incorporates the kind of electrical heating elements that are found in normal tyre heating blankets. The space around the tyre allows the air inside the box to be heated and, because there are no heating elements in direct contact with the tyre, the subsequent heating is more constant over the entire rubber surface than experienced with traditional blankets.

Crucially, the box also allows the wheel rims to be heated, which helps keep the tyre at its operating temperature for longer once it is out of the box.

Some of Ferrari's rivals are understood to be unhappy about the team's use of the boxes, however, because they believe they contravene Article 75F of Formula One's Sporting Regulations. The rule states: "The only permitted type of tyre heating devices are blankets which use resistive heating elements."

One leading engineer told Autosport-Atlas: "If Ferrari are allowed to use this system then it seems strange, because it is clear that you can use only a blanket to heat the tyre and not a metal box."

But Autosport-Atlas understands that FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting has inspected the boxes and declared them fully legal - because the box is simply a different way of housing the fully legal resistive heating elements that are found in blankets.  A source close to the FIA revealed: "It is not a proper oven but a blanket in a metal box. It's the same thing as a blanket and it conforms to the rules."

But while teams may be questioning the Ferrari system, Autosport-Atlas understands that some of them are considering introducing their own alternative to blankets in a bid to better heat the tyres.

It is believed that one system being used already is a special heating blanket that is put inside an encased wheel - which will then heat the rim and the air inside the tyre. This in turn heats the tyre in a more uniform way than the traditional tyre blankets.

shares
comments
France Preview Quotes: Williams
Previous article

France Preview Quotes: Williams

Next article

Button Fastest on Final Day at Jerez

Button Fastest on Final Day at Jerez
Load comments
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Plus

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Autosport heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Plus

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022