F1 drivers question tyre blanket ban sustainability claims

F1’s two main tyre warmer suppliers, Germany’s KLS and long-established British company MA Horne, are known to be exploring ways of reducing power consumption.

Removing that requirement completely is one of the main reasons behind F1’s drive for a blanket ban, along with a reduction in the amount of freight that is shipped around the world.

However drivers have consistently opposed the ban, and Pirelli’s most recent test – conducted with Alpine and Red Bull at Monza earlier this month – did little to convince them.

Plans for a ban to be introduced in 2024 have already been shelved, but Pirelli is continuing its test programme on the assumption that it will be announced as the winner of the 2025-28 tender contract.

The FIA is also still hoping to reduce the number of sets of tyres used by each driver, something it has already began to address with the alternative tyre allocation trialled this season.

The subject of blankets was discussed at length at the drivers’ briefing in Singapore, where GPDA director George Russell claimed that as much power can be saved over a season by switching off paddock hospitality lighting at night.

But the FIA’s view is that it’s not a case of either/or and that the issue has to be addressed globally, a philosophy that Russell accepts.

“I think when it comes to sustainability, there’s so much that needs to be done on all fronts,” he said when asked by Autosport about the Singapore debate.  

Tyres in tyre blankets

Tyres in tyre blankets

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“There are opportunities everywhere, from the energy consumption in the garages, the hospitalities, freight going across the world.

“I think within Mercedes, we’ve done an incredible job of pushing the boundaries and being truly the leaders in that field with the biofuels, we’ve been using, the trucks for example, in Europe.

“Obviously the removal of tyre blankets is a huge topic for the future. I think a number of drivers feel like it’s a very difficult task for the tyre manufacturers to achieve when you’ve got a 1,000 horsepower car with the downforce we have to compete with no tyre blankets – borderline dangerous.

“And actually, if we probably put that emphasis on making a more sustainable tyre blanket, we could get a win-win. And there is a more sustainable tyre blanket out there I think that’s being developed.”

Russell also pointed out that the blanket-less tyre test programme is itself using energy.

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“We’ve actually not seen any proper reports of the consumption of the tyre blankets,” he said. “So I think we’d love to see what they truly are, and just to understand the perspective.

“Obviously, it isn’t the most sustainable thing going and doing all of the testing in the first place to remove the tyre blankets, when actually there’s a lot more things we can be doing.

“And seemingly from a non-engineering perspective, making a more sustainable tyre blanket is probably the quickest win we can achieve.” 

Regarding the longer term he added: “Never say never, I’m sure. Blanket-less tyres are something that we will see maybe in 10 years. But I think we’re a number of years away from [a ban] being viable.” 

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