Why Are Formula 1 Tires Covered?

Why Are Formula 1 Tires Covered

At the start of each Formula 1 event, drivers immediately push their vehicles to the brink of failure. Typically, Formula 1 tires operate at an optimal temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, to allow for sharp turns and frequent accelerations. For this reason, Formula 1 tires are covered with heated blankets before the race to maintain an optimal internal temperature that increases each tire’s grip on the racetrack.

Due to friction between the tires and the racetrack, heated tires allow for improved precision and calculated maneuvers. Read on to learn about the tires offered to Formula 1 teams and the dangers associated with tires that are too hot or too cold during a race.

Tires Available To Formula 1 Drivers

Since the 2011 season, Pirelli has operated as the lone supplier of Formula 1 tires. On a given race weekend, each team has access to 13 sets of tires, each with a unique compound structure for the track’s conditions, the team’s strategy, and the surrounding environment. Each tire can be classified into three categories: Hard, Medium, and Soft.

Hard tires are the strongest set available to drivers that possess higher durability yet a lower grip on the race track. This set of tires allows racers to stay on the track for extended periods of time as they are heavily resistant to heat and track temperatures. On the other hand, soft tires guarantee the highest grip available to drivers but degrade at a faster rate. These are often utilized on street circuits with well-paved asphalt tracks and frequent sharp turns.

What If Formula 1 Tires Are Too Hot?

To push the pace of a Formula 1 car, heated tires are important to improve grip on the track. However, drivers risk their own personal safety when tires overheat as they quickly deteriorate and lose their grip on turns. When the middle of a tire becomes too hot due to over-aggressive driving or intense degradation, blistering may occur. Similarly, graining occurs when the outer portion of a tire overheats and the rubber quickly recedes. By monitoring the degradation and usage of each specific tire, teams attempt to prevent costly tire damage and overheating.

What If Formula 1 Tires Are Too Cold?

As warm tires offer each driver an improved grip and control of the vehicle, Formula 1 tires that are too cold pose immediate risks to driver safety. This issue is mainly observed at the beginning of each race, as cold tires reduce the vehicle’s grip. To confront this issue, teams utilize heated covers in the garage and weave side-to-side during a pre-race Formation Lap to evenly disperse warmth in the car’s tires and ensure a driver’s control prior to the start of a race.