Tyre warmers and Q3 rules

TyreLast night and today 2 sorts of news popped up. Felipe Massa and David Coulthard joined Martin Whitmarsh and others in calls for changes to Q3 format or rules. Then Bridgestone announced they will evaluate 3 different types of slick tyre compounds in April test in Barcelona. It is all about the same issue – having at the same time on track cars with big difference in speed.

We all still remember last weekend and the super slow return of some cars to pits at the end of Q3 while Heidfeld, Alonso were still on their flying lap. Place few snails into the racing line (let’s call them for example Hamilton and Kovalainen) and we have recipe for disaster.

Coulthard’s big mouth made news recently, here is nice summary if you like to read it, but he also has a valid point on this issue (last sentence, in bold):

“In my view a rule change is the easiest way to make sure this problem doesn’t keep occurring. I like the suggestion that drivers will be penalised unless their in-lap is within a certain percentage of their best time. It’s clear-cut, and there would be no grounds for a stewards’ enquiry. If you’re one-tenth slower than the time you’re supposed to do then you’ll get a penalty. People won’t do it then – simple as that. But give them the opportunity to try and save fuel and they will.

To forget about race fuel qualifying in Q3 would eliminate the need for fuel saving but the drivers can still choose to go slow on their way in … So some sort of speed limit and penalty may be the only way to go. The only issue I see here is that the in-lap is not a complete lap. I am not sure how would they plan to time it or compare it to their best time. In any case it looks like the talks are on to have some changes ready in time for the Bahrain GP next weekend. Let’s hope FIA and teams come up with something sensible, not with some half cooked amendment that will be hard to police …

It is strange that nobody actually thought about these problems earlier because this is not the first time the slow versus fast cars on the track issue is discussed. Already during the winter testing there were complains from drivers about the proposed ban on tyre warmers from 2009 season onwards. It would take few laps for cars to warm their cold tyres without the warmers and make them several seconds a lap slower than other cars on track. These few seconds were already described as potentially dangerous situation. The Q3 rules created situation where the difference between Heidfeld and Hamilton in Malaysia was perhaps half a minute per lap …

The upcoming tests by Bridgestone of several slick tyre compounds are set to address this issue with cold tyres warm up. Hirohide Hamashima, director of Bridgestone’s motorsport tyre development:

“We are thinking about the compound range at the moment. We want to check our warm-up issue, because in the winter time we had a warm-up problem and many drivers complained about the warm-up of the tyre. It took too long and there was an imbalance, because the rears warmed up quickly. So after two or three laps, the fronts were cold and the rears were hot. So the rears got a little bit tired before the fronts came in, which made it difficult to drive.”

I am wondering why is it necessary in the budget control days to spend the money on all this development and testing when cheaper solution called tyre warmers is readily available … What is wrong with them anyway ?

5 Comments Post a Comment
  1. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    This is the first change to qualifying that makes sense.

    I can’t imagine why they would even consider getting rid of tire warmers.

  2. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    Well, technically it’s a great fact… Tyres can be useless if they doesn’t get the right pressure, and to get the right pressure they need to be on an average warmth of 90ºc to 114ºc (some sources tell 80 to 100). This is the operating temperature, front tires remain cold because simply they haven’t the traction impulse. While rear ones get the motor power, spin much more over the asphalt and covert this friction forces on warmth (in a year they will try to avoid it, due the difference of pressures!! And in a couple of years they will try not to convert it in warmth, they will try to convert it in electricity while using KERS system).

    The FIA try to make these cars slowlier, which teams understood due to security terms in the races (where life of marshals, spectators and drivers are in danger). But teams demand realibility about the tyre use, they doesn’t arrive to the operative temperature, and due to this problem, also doesn’t get the air-pressure inside, under or over a 0,1 bar of the calculated pressure makes the car really undriveable!

    So what is the solution in there?

    The solution came from Lotus at the 85, they used the first modern electric blankets to warm the tyre in this year (it’s believed that Senna won this year’s first pole because of it’s help). This device is a development of the new fashion of heating the tyres with gas burners over metal wires, inside owens or other interesting inventions. And they did know that warm tires grow tires pressure, not just the simple believe which we could now think “they might thought that warm rubber stick more to the track”…
    Well the idea was developed until nowadays. Since now this master-piece of technology, will be banned and we will go back no more than 5 years in speed terms, as the actual technology of the F1 is more than capable to solve such lack of easy grip and balance.

    Well, hope somebody enjoy this. I leave a couple of links:



  3. BenNo Gravatar says:

    I like the first change as well. But the only way they can completely illiminate issues with in-laps and fuel is if they only allow few cars on track at the time which would then have the times more affected by weather. Its tough to see the problem solved, there will always be people who whine about how things are, especially if they are loosing.
    I don’t see much problem with how things are now. I think it was fair to penalize the McLarens in Malaysia and sends a message. I also like the competition for times they have now. Yes it’s not 100% fair, but life isn’t, and neither is the race itself.

  4. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    How about you must run any laps within 10% of your fastest lap or incur a 5 place penalty on the grid. 10% equates to 6-10 seconds dependign on the track. Any laps started after the end of session would not incur this time limit. That way everyone would be hotlapping in the last one minute of Q3, how exciting would that be.


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