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Banning tyre warmers at Le Mans an "unsafe" choice, say Ferrari WEC drivers

Ferrari Hypercar drivers have questioned the “unsafe” decision to ban tyre warmers at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

Teams across both Hypercar and LMGT3 categories will not be allowed to artificially heat their tyres in the blue riband round of the World Endurance Championship on 15-16 June as per the updated sporting regulations for 2024.
The WEC had originally imposed an outright ban on tyre warmers at the start of last season due to environmental reasons, but it was lifted on a one-off basis for Le Mans following a spate of crashes on cold tyres at the previous race at Spa.
While organisers Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA considered giving teams the same exemption again at La Sarthe this year, particularly as a chunk of the race takes place in very low temperatures at night, it was eventually decided to keep the ban in place for all eight rounds of WEC 2024.
Alessandro Pier Guidi, who won the 2023 event with James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi at the wheel of the #51 Ferrari 499P, warned that a lack of pre-race tyre heating could lead to serious ramifications in the French enduro.
"In my opinion, it is a bad choice, unsafe and not useful at all, so it is not positive,” he told Autosport. 
“I don't think it's an advantage, despite the fact that we have shown that we are among those who warm the tyres better, so it could also work in our favour. 
“You risk very serious accidents and I don't think it adds anything to the competition."
#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Miguel Molina, who drives the sister #50 Ferrari along with Antonio Fuoco and Nicklas Nielsen, believes the rulemakers should rethink the decision to prohibit tyre warmers at Le Mans because of the risks involved.
"This is something we are concerned about,” Molina told Autosport. “We have seen in the past that it is not easy and we will have to be very careful because there is a risk of losing the race right away. 
“In my opinion, we should reconsider because then the safety is not 100% there." 
Giovinazzi expects putting temperature into the tyres without any artificial aid to be a major challenge at Le Mans and stressed that teams are concerned about the impact of the new rules on night-time driving.
"It will be one of the biggest difficulties because last year we started with warm tyres, while in 2024 we have not yet faced races with low temperatures that could make us experience those conditions,” he said in an interview with Autosport.
“Facing the night with cold tyres will be quite challenging, it's an unknown and a concern we all have - drivers and teams."

Le Mans success more important after disappointment at Imola, Spa 

Ferrari heads to Le Mans after two frustrating results at Imola and Spa, two races where it arguably had the fastest car in the entire Hypercar field.
#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: Marc Fleury

A decision to delay the switch to wet tyres cost it a likely home victory in Italy, while the AF Corse-run factory squad was unlucky to be caught out by the timing of the red flag in Belgium. 
Ferrari even protested the results of the Spa WEC round as it questioned the stewards’ decision to restart the race after the original 19:00 finish time, but its challenge was dismissed under the FIA’s international sporting code.
Following the opening three rounds, the two Ferrari crews sit fifth and ninth in the drivers’ standings, facing a massive deficit to the points-leading #6 Porsche trio of Laurens Vanthoor, Andre Lotterer and Kevin Estre.
Given the situation, Pier Guidi said the double points-scoring Le Mans round is now even more critical for Ferrari’s hopes of winning the 2024 WEC title.
“In 2023 we were the outsiders and it was not known exactly what result we could achieve,” he said. “We knew we had a competitive car, but so many doubted the reliability. 
“As of today there is more awareness of the capabilities of this car, let's say there is more anticipation, but like last year we all start from the same point and Le Mans is very difficult to win, probably the toughest 24-hour race there is, with so many manufacturers involved. 
“So far the car has proven to be competitive, although we have picked up much less than we could have [in 2024]. 
“For the championship, it is a sore point, but luckily there are a lot of points up for grabs at Le Mans, so it will be even more important to do well at la Sarthe."
Additional quotes from Beatrice Frangione

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