Lewis Hamilton fears F1 plan to outlaw tyre blankets could put lives at risk

Lewis Hamilton fears F1 plan to outlaw tyre blankets could put lives at risk

Lewis Hamilton fears lives could be put at risk if Formula One presses ahead with a proposal to outlaw tyre blankets.

The ban could come into force as early as next year, with a vote of the sport’s major players due to be held after the British Grand Prix in July.

Tyre warmers allow drivers to have rubber with suitable grip and pressure when they start the race, or leave the pits.

Lewis Hamilton in action during testing
Lewis Hamilton in action during testing ahead of next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix (Frank Augstein/AP)

But they use a considerable amount of energy, and their removal is being considered on cost and sustainability grounds.

However, seven-time world champion Hamilton, among only a handful of drivers to have completed dry weather no-blanket running for F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli, said: “It is dangerous.

“I have tested them, and there is going to be an incident at some stage. So on safety grounds, it is the wrong decision.

“You have to drive multiple laps to get the tyres to work. The whole argument is that taking away the blankets will be more sustainable and more green, but we are using more fuel to get more temperature into the tyres.

“What is more concerning is that when you go out, the car is skating around, it is very twitchy, and if someone else is on tyres that are working, you could easily collide with them. It is a pointless exercise.”

Responding to Hamilton’s comments, Pirelli boss Mario Isola said: “We are following a plan with the FIA and F1.

“We are in the early stages and after Silverstone there will be discussion with all the parties involved.”

Hamilton was addressing the contentious topic on the final day of this week’s three-day test in Bahrain.

Despite team principal Toto Wolff declaring at the start of the week that he expected Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate George Russell will have the machinery to contend for this season’s world title, there is a growing, and ominous feeling in the paddock, that reigning champion Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team might prove unstoppable.

“It is difficult to sum it up,” said Hamilton when asked to asses his chances ahead of next Sunday’s opening race, also in Bahrain.

“We have had a couple of difficult days, yesterday particularly was difficult, and a bit more of a struggle.

“Right now, the bouncing has pretty much gone, so that is a huge step for us, but there are still some underlying things that we are working through.”

Hamilton took over testing duties from Russell for the concluding session in Bahrain and finished second, four tenths adrift of Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

With Verstappen sitting the final day out, Perez set the quickest lap of the week to underline Red Bull’s pace – even though Hamilton was on the softest, and theoretically, speediest rubber.

Earlier, Russell ended the opening running on Saturday four tenths back from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc, a distant second to Verstappen in the championships last season, said: “I feel we have got some work to do. Red Bull seems to be very strong.”

Meanwhile, a confident Verstappen, who won 15 of the 22 rounds last year as he raced to his second title in as many seasons, said: “Our only goal is to win the championship.”