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Undercut impact will be added factor in final F1 tyre warmer ban decision

Formula 1 supplier Pirelli says the impact on racing of a potential tyre warmer ban, with it potentially killing off the undercut, will be added factor in the final decision.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, makes a pit stop

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, makes a pit stop

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Pirelli has been working to create tyres that do not need pre-heating, with teams and the FIA poised to vote next month on whether or not to go ahead with a tyre warmer ban for 2024.

So far the issue has been mainly focused on the safety of the tyres, with a number of drivers questioning whether or not it is worth the risk of more accidents on cold tyres just to save money in needing tyre blankets.

But while Pirelli is confident its products will be safe, it says there are other factors at play that need to be treated seriously too.

And chief among them will be whether or not the change of tyres has a negative impact on the racing, as it could limit overtaking and reduce strategy opportunities.

Pirelli's head of F1 Mario Isola said that detailed simulations will be conducted to find out what the influence could be from not having pre-heated tyres.

"The priority for us is safety first and we are not going to provide any tyre that is not safe," explained Isola.

"But the show is important and we need also in this analysis to understand what is the impact here, not just in warm-up, but in terms of level of degradation, the peak of grip and these kinds of elements.

"We need to simulate, together with the FIA and F1, some races and race situations to see what are the strategies and so on. It may be that we discover that everybody is pushed towards a one-stop for many reasons.

Pirelli tyres and wheels outside of the Alpine garage

Pirelli tyres and wheels outside of the Alpine garage

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"When we talk about strategy, it's a mix of factors. It is the degradation of the tyre, the time you lose in the pitlane, and how difficult it is to overtake, because obviously, traffic has a different influence on the strategy.

"We have always to consider the full package, as it is not just the tyre itself working on a car and on a circuit."

One of the key characteristics of racing in F1 is the power of the undercut, which is the lap time benefit that a new tyre has over older rubber if a driver goes earlier into the pits.

If tyres take longer to hit their peak potential, then this could eradicate the undercut completely, which would force drivers to be more conservative with their stops.

Isola said part of the work Pirelli was doing was calculating how long it took for tyres to reach their optimum temperature on the out lap.

He added: "I know drivers are not happy because this is a big change and they will have to change their approach.

"We know that the undercut is no more working so it will be a different situation.

"That's why for example, during our development tests, we are also monitoring the out-lap sectors, sector per sector, to understand if, at the very beginning of the run, what is the difference in terms of seconds per lap or seconds per sector.

"We are trying to collect as much data as we can to supply useful information to take the decision."

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Isola thinks it is unrealistic of anyone to expect the introduction of tyres that do not need pre-heating to perform exactly as rubber that has been warmed before being fitted to the car.

"If the target is we want to have a tyre with no blanket that is working exactly as the current one. I tell you, it's impossible.

"But it's not impossible just for us, it's impossible for anybody because if you go out with a cold tyre, you cannot have the same grip that you have now with 70 degrees of temperature in the tyre.

"Maybe in Bahrain, it takes one corner because you have very aggressive tarmac, high temperature, and a layout that is helping in putting energy into the tyre. But in Monaco, it will take more. In Spielberg, it will take more. So it's a different approach."

A final call on whether or not Pirelli and the FIA believe the tyre warmer ban should be put to a team vote will be made after a post-British Grand Prix test on the latest rubber.

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