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Another Test – FIA set for U-turn over F1 rule change after Max Verstappen shares damning feedback

The FIA and Pirelli have shelved plans for a proposed reduction in maximum tyre blanket temperatures to 50 degrees Celsius from 2023 onwards after receiving negative feedback from several drivers, including newly-crowned world champion Max Verstappen. Tyre blankets are expected to be banned outright in 2024 and the FIA have recently been exploring the idea of tinkering with the temperatures in order to prepare for the switch.

An initial test was conducted in practice at the United States Grand Prix that saw blanket temperatures lowered to the 50-degree mark, although many drivers struggled to find grip around the Circuit of the Americas as a result of the change. Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola has since revealed that their plans to reduce tyre blanket temperatures in 2023 have been put on hold after learning that the move would not be an especially popular one in the paddock.

“After listening to the drivers, we started to consider that Austin is a high-severity circuit with very good weather conditions and they had an issue with a warm-up,” Isola told The Race. “What happens at street circuits, low-severity circuits with smooth tarmac, or in poor conditions?

“The target is to ban blankets for 2024 and the idea was to go in this direction step-by-step. The plan is still in place, but looking at the test in Austin, it seems that 50 degrees Celsius is not a suitable option for next year.”

Another Pirelli test in Mexico last weekend made it clear that keeping tyres wrapped at 70 degrees Celsius for up to two hours pre-use would be a better option for 2023 before the blankets are scrapped altogether a year later.

“My feeling is that the right direction is to go for 70 degrees and two hours,” added Isola. “What we collected in terms of information in Austin is useful for us for further developing the compounds.

“We know we have to make quite a big step to get rid of blankets in 2024. It’s not just redesigning the construction completely, it’s also redesigning all the five compounds, and we have now a test plan that we started to discuss with the FIA and FOM and soon with the teams to see if it is feasible.”

A handful of drivers have already expressed their opposition to the tyre blanket proposals, with Lando Norris insisting earlier this month that nobody on the grid would be happy to see temperatures reduced to 50 degrees Celsius in time for next season. Verstappen has also publicly criticised the idea, with the Red Bull man insisting after the test in the United States that tyre blankets should be used to their full potential as long as they remain within the regulations.

“It was not enjoyable,” said Verstappen. “I drove on [tyres that were warmed to] 50 degrees, I think it was, and I almost spun in the pit lane already.

“Of course, I also had the hardest compound, but I think there’s a lot more to it. If we have the tyre blankets anyway, why don’t we just use them to the fullest because they’re there? You either go just full blankets or zero, not middle way because we have them already.”

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