Ferrari calls for strict policing of WEC tyre warming rules at Le Mans 24

Antonello Coletta, the Italian manufacturer’s sportscar racing boss, made the call in light of ban on tyre warmers in the World Endurance Championship and the rule demanding that the rubber must be at ambient temperature when it is put on the cars. 

He appeared to be suggesting that one manufacturer might be gaining an advantage by circumventing the ban, which was introduced at the start of last season but reversed on a one-off basis for the 2023 centenary Le Mans on safety grounds. 

“In past races, we have already seen that someone has been very good at warming their tyres and on a track like this, we lose over 15s [a lap] when we go out on cold tyres,” said Coletta.

“It is important for the organisers to control the temperatures [of the tyres] when they go on the cars — the rules must be respected.

“The authorities need to check the temperatures; they must be sure that all manufacturers stick to the rules.

“I don’t want the Le Mans 24 Hours to be decided on the warm-up of the tyres in the night or other difficult conditions.”

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#4 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Mathieu Jaminet, Felipe Nasr, Nick Tandy

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It appears that the someone to which Coletta referred is Porsche, which has had a clear advantage on tyre warm-up at different points of the season so far. 

Coletta added that he remains hopeful that the rules will be correctly policed during the race. 

“I am confident this is going to happen; I am sure the sporting bodies are thinking to ensure all the temperatures are the same,” he said. 

The FIA has confirmed that checks are being conducted at Le Mans without issuing any further reaction to Coletta’s comments. 

These are known to be made on a random rather than a universal basis, but what is unclear is what tolerance is being allowed.

Michelin, the sole rubber supplier in Hypercar, has also confirmed that its engineers have been instructed to advise the team to which they are attached not to run tyres that could contravene the regulations.

The sporting regulations for the WEC state: “Any process that involves a direct or indirect attempt at modifying the temperature of a tyre (compared to the ambient temperature) is forbidden.

“This includes but is not limited to: warming of the car’s suspension components, wheel hub assembly and braking system; modification to the filing medium water heating system/element when washing the wheels.”

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#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

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Traditionally tyres in sportscar racing were pre-heated in ovens at the back of each team’s pit garage. 

The ban, made on environmental grounds, coincided with the introduction of a new range of tyres from Michelin designed to be driven on from cold. 

It was temporarily reversed for Le Mans last year after a spate of accidents at the previous round of the WEC at Spa, which was held in cold conditions. 

Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest said in May last year that lifting the ban on a one-off basis would give “tyre manufacturers, teams and drivers valuable time to develop better understanding of how to bring cold tyres up to temperature ahead of the remainder of the 2023 WEC season”.

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