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Tyre blanket ban discussed to cut costs

ESPN Staff
June 26, 2012 « McLaren expects development race to step up a gear | Button eyeing Silverstone fightback »
Tyre blankets could be banned to cut costs © Sutton Images
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Cost cutting talks gathered pace over the European Grand Prix weekend, with a ban on tyre blankets among the proposals put forward to minimise the teams' spend.

Cost cutting has been on Formula One's agenda for some time, with the teams expected to agree to new regulations to limit spending by the end of the month. Over the weekend Autosport reported that a ban on tyre blankets could be implemented as a means of trimming costs over the next couple of years, with tyre supplier Pirelli willing to change its compounds if necessary.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said a ban on tyre blankets would make sense if the compounds are changed accordingly to make sure there are no safety concerns.

"You can't do it with these tyres, that's for sure," he said. "But what was suggested is that if you're going to change the tyre and go out to tender, which is something in prospect for the sport, then having noisy generators on the grid and having all the costs of tyre blankets ... you have to ask if they actually add to the show or if they get in the way of it? Providing that the temperature and the pressure range of the tyres are designed to warm-up, which they do in other formula, then it's clearly possible. We've got ourselves into a particular niche in Formula One where we all spend £300,000 on dragging blankets and generators around to make noise on the grid."

But Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn questioned the actual savings that would be made, given that cars would likely complete more running to get tyres up to temperature.

"I think you just have to look at the economies of it," he said. "If it's a sporting question that's a different matter, but if it's an economic question they're not cheap - probably an extra £200,000 for the year - but if you think of the extra mileage we'd do [to warm up the tyres], and we'd probably all have them for testing, because in testing you don't want to have to use that mileage. We'd end up buying them and using them for testing and then not be able to use them for the race. I think it's a close call whether we should or shouldn't have them.

"On the sporting side it's a different matter, cars going out after a pit stop with cold tyres and perhaps not being able to bang in a really quick lap to defend their position. That could be a different issue; it might be an interesting proposition. But I don't think on cost grounds they are very expensive bits of kit. They do save us having to do extra mileage to get the tyres up to temperature."

Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher said he sees no reason to implement a ban.

"I think cold tyres are for categories that have low power; maybe Formula Ford or Formula 3," he said. "But quite honestly Formula One, being the pinnacle of motorsport, with the power that we have, with the speed that we have ... no, I wouldn't like that idea at all, and I don't see a need or reason for doing so."

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