Voice Of #F1 Fans: The End Is Nigh – Why #F1 could collapse already this year

•March 4, 2015 • 3 Comments

Disclaimer: TheJudge13 provides a platform for Formula 1 fans to publish their voice on matters relating to Formula 1. The views expressed in Voice of #F1 Fans are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.


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O RLY? – would be the instinctive reaction of the younger generation to what most will probably chalk up as scare-mongering. But a look into history and applying the experiences of recent years, this doom and gloom scenario is not as far-fetched as we might at first think.

While many, including TJ13, were writing messages of hope about the possibility of a Manor/Marussia return, it went almost un-noted that three other teams were closer to falling apart than Manor was to survival.

It was not quite so inconspicuous in the case of Force India and their attempted heist job on Manor, for which they have been universally lambasted. But in the end it is just a sign of how desperate teams have become to just survive. It’s like carting a single pizza into a weight-watchers convention and then sitting back and watching the fireworks.

Let me make it absolutely clear though – what Force India have done is hardly forgivable. Instead of looking for a solution that befits all of them, they tried to soldier on, by stabbing a fellow struggler in the back for some cheap meat. How it should be done has been proven when the little teams put the proverbial gun to Ecclestone’s head by telling him ‘cash, or else…’.

All of the small teams had to take leave of their dignity at some point or another just to struggle on for yet another month. Lotus have wrecked their credibility with a development driver, who’s only qualification appears to be that she is female and have some cash (and rather pleasing on the eye too). I decline to comment on what ‘hard work and determination‘ she was referring to that allegedly brought her to F1.

Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn turned into a ruthless business woman, breaking the contracts of all three Sauber drivers and informed them about the fact by SMS. All this just so she could go for yet another bunch of pay drivers with even bigger coffers than the ones she had just deleted off her speed-dial list.

Caterham went begging on the interwebs and the exploits of Force India are well documented by now. So while the teams might have struggled on so far they all have taken massive hits to their reputation in the process. It is therefore no surprise that they are confident enough and appear not to care about their street-cred to dare go ask Bernie for a loan with an AK-47 as their best argument.

The problem is quite simple. While during the season cash comes in from Bernie money, sponsors and other sources, the teams are bleeding money from November till February. But at the same time they have to spend big on building the new car. We’ve come to the point that the smaller teams no longer have the reserves to get through that time.

The fact that suppliers now demand immediate payment doesn’t help the least bit.

And lo and behold, we’ve reached the point where Force India and Sauber do not yet know if they can even pay to travel to Melbourne. The scenario that F1 could end up with only 12 cars on the grid, is highlighted by the fact that Ecclestone’s plans B and C have already been developed in detail.

Option one is building a fleet of second-league cars, more precisely 2013 RB9’s with Mecachrome V8 engines. Option two is to have the big teams build third cars. But the big fish demand 60 days of advance notice. The smaller teams cleverly waited until Bernard doesn’t have that time anymore. As a result it comes as no surprise that Ecclestone caved in and agreed to pay the last tranche of 2013 Bernie money in February instead of March and the first instalment of 2014 payments will come in March instead of April.

The problem is, it is still like trying to put a forest fire out with a bucket of water. It doesn’t solve the problems, it merely delays the collapse of the smaller teams by six or ten races. The McKinsey cost saving reports was chucked in the bin immediately by the big teams, as were any suggestions for better and more equitable distribution of F1’s ginormous income.

And that’s where we come to the point at which F1 will implode. Currently the big fish are presenting a united front as that’s the best way to keep the plebs away from the best spots on the food table, but when the plebs has kicked the bucket, they will turn on each other.

Mercedes is so far ahead they don’t even need to try and therefore one could argue want to retain status quo. But the day isn’t far when even they will learn that too much winning causes negative backlash.

Mercedes could be seen as the bully who steals candy from babies, just ask Red Bull. The third car idea would mean Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren wouldn’t even be fighting for podiums anymore. That’s too little for organizations that spent millions over millions on their cars.

The Austrian team (Red Bull) meanwhile have their own crisis at hand. Their relationship with Renault has deteriorated so badly that the French are looking to get rid of them and go it alone. And yet, despite building what many regard as the most sophisticated chassis, RB have no chance to compete with Mercedes.

There is only so much time that can pass before RB will put up a much fiercer fight.

Ferrari is no better off. The big gains over last year and the arrival of Vettel, who is the polar opposite of the unloved departed Fernando Alonso, will only temporarily gloss over the fact that they are still way too far behind and only compete for crumbs once again. The tifosi are not exactly known for their patience.

The less said about McHonda, the better at this time. They can only use the infancy of their project as an excuse for a limited time. Red Bull had sorted Renault’s engine out by Melbourne last year, at least to the point that at least one car could finish the race occasionally. A man like Ron Dennis will not suffer lack of success for long – the fireworks are in the making.

The result will be calls for new rules and new cars. And in the long term Mercedes won’t be able to deflect those calls.

And so, TV figures continue to plummet and seats at the tracks remain empty. Is it that change will only come when Bernard’s beancounters tell him they have earned less than last month for the first time?

I believe it is at this point that new rules will come. Some fans will be unhappy and some teams will threaten to withdraw; some will probably even do so.

And that will be the moment when the whole house of cards collapses. Especially as people will have noticed by then that the product presented by WEC and Indycar is superior and features just as many cheerable drivers.

Bernard will have to do much better than just throwing a bone once in a while. And more importantly, the Wolffs, Laudas, Horners, Arrivabenes and Denises of the paddock need to pull their thumbs out and think about the whole product instead of only their own interest.

If not I fear they will be forced to consider WEC as a marketing platform and that’s where Audi, Porsche, Nissan and Toyota are already waiting to whip their behinds. They won’t be able to stomp them into oblivion as easily as they did with Sauber, Lotus, Force India and Manor now would they?

The ball gentlemen is in your court…

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 4th March 2015

•March 4, 2015 • 30 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly


TJ13 Karting Event

Force India: No Wehrlein – no testing

Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite: When Silence Is Golden

A memo from Mr E

The Ultimate F1 circuit

Pirelli tyre choice for first four races


TJ13 Karting Event

Hello everyone, Spanners here. (I’m from the podcast). As you may know I’ve organised a karting event for The Judge 13 @ RYE HOUSE KART RACEWAY at 2pm on March the 28th. There are still places free so please call and book your place today.

Everyone is welcome to come and join us on track for a 60 minute session. That’s 15 minutes qualifying and then grid straight up for 40 minutes of 65mph karting action for the discount price of £68 (Normally £89). You’re competing for the Judge’s Gavel.

I will be there along with John, Craig, The Grumpy Jackal, Hippo and some TJ13 readers and listeners. Come along and share an afternoon racing with some fellow F1 fans. Share a pint afterwards as well. Rye House is near Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. (North of that there London)

Call RYE HOUSE on 01992 460 895
Quote the ref; TJ13 2pm march 28th.

If you have any questions then please comment here or ask me on twitter @spannersready.
You could even ask me in the chatroom of the livestream where we record the podcast at 8pm on Wednesdays. https://www.ustream.tv/channel/13337992

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Force India: No Wehrlein – no testing

Force India have confirmed that the decision to run Pascal Wehrlein in the first Barcelone period of winter testing was not a mere act of friendship, but a business decision.

z1424340611 The German, who in the absence of Max Chilton takes the role of dedicated “good lookin’ F1 driver guy” and (if you squint your eyes a bit) resembles ever so slightly our very own SpannersReady before his hair started going AWOL, was slated to run for two days in the VJM07 in exchange for Mercedes paying the bills.

“Mercedes wanted him to have some time in the car and it suited us in terms of being able to run the car,” Robert Fernley explains to Autosport, implying that this was the condition for some financial help from their PU supplier. Having learned from previous, less successful PR campaign, he adds the prerequisite pleasantries.

“It was a pleasure for us to do it. It was obviously financially worthwhile and also allowed us to get Nico and Sergio back up to speed before the third test – so it was win-win.”

While it is good to see that Mercedes help out their customers the cynical faction (internally codenamed ‘The Hippo’ among TJ13 staff) cannot help but think that Merc takes advantage of FI’s financial problems and makes them their subservient pawns.

With testing so highly restricted these days – it was a free pass for Mercedes to get on of their young drivers behind the wheel of a Formula One car – well not free, at a cost of around £250,000.

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Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite: When Silence Is Golden

Hippo Rant Lite articles are comments made by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the TJ13 staff as a whole

Dear Mr. Dennis,

I take it, it is not too hazardous a stretch of the imagination that you have grown fairly displeased with the amount of disagreeable media coverage about recent events that involve your McLaren F1 outfit. While I may sympathize with your dismay about this seemingly outrageous injustice, I feel compelled to point out that, with all due respect of course, it appears that nobody else but yourself is to blame for this promotional misadventure.

When your most revered Iberian employee Fernando Alonso suffered what looked to be a most bizarre automotive accident and medical personal rushed to the scene in what looked to be more than the usual urgency in such cases, the audience was of course worried about the fate of your most prominent member of the work force. This sensation of concern was amplified when he was airlifted to the hospital, usually considered a measure of highest urgency.

I wish not to deceive you. Therefore I admit that I found your explanation for the calamity thoroughly lacking in both detail and credibility. I take it that there are reasons for you to keep the true nature of the accident to yourself, but may I humbly suggest that you do not improvidently underestimate the intellect of the public in such case?

The presented theory of wind influence is unfortunately debunked by the mere application of simple logic. Had gusts been prevalent that are strong enough to send a 600kg car in the opposite direction to which the centrifugal forces were pulling it – and subsequently into a violent accident, the climatic conditions would have exceeded the medical helicopter’s flight envelope. Therefore, according to the regulations, all on-track activity would have been stopped at this point. It is therefore extremely difficult to consider your explanation a statement of truth.

May I also point out, that the inconsistency in your statements hint at the fact that there is an unfortunate lack of coordination among your employees as to which tale of male bovine excrement to present to the public? On the day after the accident you disclosed that the honourable Mr. Alonso Diaz had been retained in the medical facility for precautionary reasons because of a concussion, the existence of which you ferociously denied only days later during a press conference. Yet yesterday it was disclosed that your employee was advised not to return to work yet, because of a concussion.

As you will hopefully agree, this contradiction of fact would be obvious to even the most unsuccessfully educated members of the public. I would therefore wish to remind you of a saying by the ancient Roman philosopher Hippopotamus Decitonnus:

Tell us the truth Ron, or shut the fuck up!

Sincerely, the weight-disadvantaged Hippo.

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A memo from Mr E

The Usher found a little Gem posted on Twitter from @varnnesports this morning. It appears the antithesis of modern metro sent Caterham a little reminder on who he thinks a grid pass should be given out to.

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The Ultimate F1 circuit

As a promotional activity, Scalextric has built one of its biggest ever tracks, the Ultimate F1 2015 Circuit, designed b Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle.

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“The team challenged me to design my dream circuit using sections from the 20 F1 races in 2015,” Brundle reveals. “I immediately wanted a figure of ‘8’ like our beloved Suzuka, and could only dream of driving a series of corners such as scaling the mountain up to turn one in Austin before falling through the ‘Senna S’ of Brazil and towards Silverstone’s fearsome Copse corner. And that’s just a small section. Now amazingly, we’ve built a model and so I will revert to my childhood for many laps. It’s going to get competitive.”

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Brundle includes the Ascari Chicane from Monza, Monaco and the Casino Square, the infamous Canadian ‘Wall of Champions’, Silverstone Copse along with the Abu Dhabi circuit Marina Complex

The track also includes miniature sized landmarks from the F1 calendar, such as the Monaco swimming pool, the Singapore Flyer, the Silverstone wing and more.

Scalextric will be selling this in the near future for around £1,000 along with other iconic F1 circuits.

Come to think about it – it seems strange Scalextric haven’t better tapped into F1 previously.

Which circuit would you like to have in Scalextric form?

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Pirelli tyre choice for first four races

Pirelli have chosen the same compounds as in 2014 for the first for races of the season. Soft and Medium for Australia, China and Bahrain and medium/hard for Malaysia where higher temperatures and an abrasive track require firmer rubber.

Pirelli say they have developed a stronger construction to ensure the rear tyres are less of a limiting factor this season, though they admit as yet the supersoft tyre is a bit of an unknown quantity.

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Autosport #F1 GP Predictor – Season Opening 2015

•March 3, 2015 • 22 Comments

Ladies and Gents of the TJ13 community, it is that time of year once more. Those long winter months draw to a close for those in the Northern Hemisphere, the promise of a new year brings hope and draws speculation from all about the fate of their favourite drivers and teams.

So nobody should under any kind of illusion here, Mercedes are still very VERY quick.  Unless you have been living under a rock then that is common knowledge, however, the Drivers’ Championship clash will be another (we hope) titanic tussle and the battle behind them is of great interest.

Have Williams built on their 2014 success to start challenging for podiums with both drivers? Can Red Bull cling on to second place even with their relatively poor preseason testing? Have the Maranello staff been shaken into some kind of order to give a recharged Sebastian Vettel a quick car?

If you think you have what it takes and can outsmart the TJ13 jury then get involved with ‘TheJudge13 Courtroom League’

Under two weeks until the cars will be lining up for the first race in Melbourne so hurry!

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 3rd March 2015

•March 3, 2015 • 106 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly


Force India Criticism Continues

Bad press for Lotus’… err… Development Driver

Less testing and no “South Korea Trick”

Honda Homologation

Forever, not together

Formula One’s most hopeful female driver

Alonso out for Melbourne


Force India Criticism Continues

As if their cash problems aren’t enough Force India’s desperation is still hurting them in public as they loose more and more support from other teams. Bob Fernley’s assurances that Force India’s veto against Manor’s return was just an unfortunate side-effect of the session protocol and that other teams would have voted no had his team not done so were soon contradicted by public support for the former Marussia squad by Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Now Mercedes, who have so far remained silent on the issue, have gone even further and criticise their customer team for their Strategy Group antics.

Formula One is a pool of sharks where even the small teams prey on other small teams, Toto Wolff tells Motorsport Total. If one goes away, more [of the money] remains for the survivors. That is feirly annoying as behind the teams are people and their jobs that many families reply upon. We need safe jobs, everything else is secondary.”

Hm, Mr. Wolff, how about a more equitable distribution of the money then?

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Bad press for Lotus’… err… Development Driver

Many in the paddock and outside of it, including most media outfits, share the opinion that the signing of Carmen Jorda by Lotus as a ‘development driver’ has set back the cause of bringing a serious female entrant to F1 by many years. The fact of the matter is that the results of Ms. Jorda, or rather the woeful lack of it, does not warrant a place in F1. The sheer ineptitude of the young lady is highlighted by the fact that she was sacked by her GP3 team Koiranen GP two weekends before the end of the season, because she had failed to score a single point. The man, who took her car – Dean Stoneman – scored two wins in those two remaining races. Ouch!

Rob Cregan, her 2012 GP3 team mate puts it like that: Carmen Jorda couldn’t develop a roll of film, let alone a hybrid F1 car. The clearly somewhat dellusional Jorda counters that Cregan is just jealous of her achievement to make it to F1 through hard work and determination.

Where exactly that ‘hard work’ is supposed to have taken place remains a mystery as, if her results are anything to go by, the track was no such place. In best Lotus-Development-Driver tradition, no real racing program has been established yet for her. Except for some simulator rides and the use as eyecandy on the track and for select sponsor events, Lotus have no real plan for the 26 year old.

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Less testing and no “South Korea Trick”

Along with the ‘open to interpretation’ regulation on helmet design restrictions, the FIA sought to tidy up a couple of loopholes in other existing rules yesterday.

Back in December a new version of the proposed 2015 F1 calendar began circulating which included the Korean GP.

As though the revival of the bankrupt race in Mokpo wasn’t surprising enough, the fact it was scheduled the week before the Spanish GP clearly revealed the ulterior motive behind this race inclusion.

Prior to this there had been much disagreement over the ‘freeze’ on engines and concerns expressed by some of the engine manufacturers that the proposed reduction from five to four engines per car for 2015 was too punishing.

With Mexico joining the circus this year, this meant before Bernie proposed adding South Korea to the calendar – there were now 20 races scheduled.

The addition of South Korea opened up the clause to allow an extra engine per car in 2015 because more than 20 races were now listed on the ‘proposed schedule’.

The FIA have changed this regulation and will only allow the extra engine per car should there be more than 20 races listed ‘at the time of the first GP of the year’.

Further, teams had requested that the regulation for 2016 reducing winter testing from 12 to 8 days be delayed. The FIA has confirmed there will be just 8 days of pre-season testing in 2016 – and these can be run in a block of up to 4 days.

TJ13 has learned that one team is still proposing there be three separate tests. This would see the ‘shake down’ test in Jerez reduced to three days scheduled from February 1 to February 3 – which is the earliest the teams are allowed cars on track in the new year – and a further two tests in Barcelona of 3 days and then a 2 more days a week later.

Another team is agitating to return to Bahrain for winter testing, though the costs of this to the smaller teams proved to be prohibitive in 2014. Force India didn’t even make Jerez due to the £500,000 price tag this year.

A reduction in the number of pre-season testing days will serve to level the playing field somewhat, as clearly the teams with the greater resources can do more with each additional day their cars are on track.

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Honda Homologation

Well the die is cast – at least somewhat. Honda has presented to the FIA a homologated engine, yet the other engine manufacturers have another week before they declare their hands.

Of course there year 32 development tokens available this year to be used almost as the engine designers wish to change the architecture and build of their V6 turbo power units. Depending on how many the 2014 engine manufacturers’ use for Melbourne will determine how many Honda are allowed to use for the rest of the season.

With Renault threatening Red Bull they will defer the majority use of their tokens to later in the year, it could be that the average of the unused tokens by the 2014 suppliers is between 10-15. Honda will then have this many tokens to deploy this season.

“We do not know what tokens we will have, because we do not know yet what the others have used,” said Honda chief Yasuhisa Arai yesterday.

Remi Taffin surmised in Barcelona, “Most likely, Mercedes and Ferrari will have a similar approach. I cannot imagine that they have used up all the tokens in two months.”

Despite the trials of testing, Honda’s Arai remains positive and describes the base of their 2015 power unit as ‘good’. Further, “We have solved many things and it is fully homologated.”

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Forever, not together

Fans of the British F1 world champion could have been forgiven for thinking the latest breakup between their hero and pop pole dancer, Nicole Shertzinger, was just another of their spats – and soon, they would be back together. This after all is the fourth time they have publically declared a separation.

Yet something is different this time. Nicole decided to jet off to Venice last weekend, “enjoying a quick getaway with a few of her close friends,” according to Hello magazine.

The Sun reports “The split has been devastating for Nicole. She feels the only way she can move on is by putting distance between her and Lewis.”

And as ‘hell hath no fury…’, Nicole has done just that. Not only did she release a selection of the private snaps from her Venice sojourn with her close friends, but she ‘unfollowed’ Lewis on twitter.

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With 2,640,321 other followers, Lewis’ fans will be hoping he hasn’t noticed – and also missed the well thought out snaps of his ex in the weekend publications.

Clearly, Shertzinger’s teenage girl ‘emo’ antics should be seen for what they are by Hamilton, and he must not let himself be distracted. Lewis has a golden opportunity to join an exclusive club this year and become a triple world champion by the end of 2015.

There will always be, ‘plenty more fish in the Pacific Sea’.

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Formula One’s most hopeful female driver

After the disappearance of Simona de Silvestre back to the USA, Suzie Wolff remains the only realistic chance of seeing a woman drive an F1 car in the near future.

untitledIt was unfortunate that a rather reckless Felipe Nasr took out Suzie Wolff during the recent Barcelona test because she was about to perform some low fuel runs which would have given us some relative comparison of her pace.

British and Spanish fans are to get to see Suzie drive in FP1 at their home Grand Prix this year and Suzie is playing her part to move the Williams team forward. “Our focus this year is to build on the success of 2014 – I’ve been training hard all winter and I am physically in the best shape I’ve ever been, so I am ready for the season ahead,” said Wolff.

“As official test driver I will have additional time in the FW37 and by correlating this with my work in the simulator, the team can ensure we are getting the best from the car and check how updates are performing. All of us drivers on the Williams roster have been working closely together on this and we are ready to give everything we can to the 2015 season.”

Suzie made her F1 debut at the F1 weekend in Silverstone last year and also drove a practice session in Germany.

untitledWhether the latest pretty recruit to the F1 circus will get to drive an F1 car is unclear, but Carmen Jorda apparently believes she will pilot the E23 at some point this year. She is set for imminent ‘work in the simulator but, “first I must understand how the team works,” Jorda insists. “This cannot be compared with GP3.”

There have been a number of those from the racing fraternity who have publicly denounced the recruitment of Jorda by Lotus as nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Jorda has hit back at the sarcastic comments made by her former GP3 team mate on twitter.

The Lotus development driver dismisses Cregan as being jealous. Bild reports her stating, “Formula one is full of jealousy. There are only a few seats available, so only a few can make it. Rob is obviously jealous that I’m here and he is not”.

Jordan adds, “I wish him all the best, that’s all I can say,”

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Alonso out for Melbourne

Here is a statement just issued by McLaren F1.

“Having performed an exhaustive series of tests and scans – some of them as recently as yesterday evening – McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso’s doctors have informed him that they find him asymptomatic of any medical issue; that they see no evidence whatsoever of any injury; and that they therefore describe him as entirely healthy from neurological and cardiac perspectives alike.

However, Fernando’s doctors have recommended to him that, following the concussion he sustained in a testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 22nd, for the time being he should seek to limit as far as is possible any environmental risk factors that could potentially result in his sustaining another concussion so soon after his previous one, so as to minimise the chances of second impact syndrome, as is normal medical procedure when treating athletes after concussions.

In order to limit those environmental risk factors, specifically, his doctors have advised that he should not compete in the imminent Australian Grand Prix meeting, which will take place on March 13th, 14th and 15th.

Fernando has understood and accepted that advice, and the two McLaren-Honda cars will therefore be driven in Australia by Fernando’s team-mate Jenson Button and the team’s test and reserve driver Kevin Magnussen.   

Fernando’s doctors acknowledge that he feels fit and well, and that he regards himself as ready to race, and, that being the case, they are comfortable with the fact that he has already recommenced physical training, with a view to preparing for a return to the cockpit of his McLaren-Honda car for the Malaysian Grand Prix meeting on March 27th, 28th and 29th. Indeed, his doctors are supportive of that ambition, satisfied as they are that he sustained no damage whatsoever during his testing accident on February 22nd.

All at McLaren-Honda fully support Fernando’s decision in respect of his doctors’ advice”.

This will be the first time since the USA GP in 2005, when Alonso will not be part of a Formula One race.

McLaren have been dogged by bad publicity since Fernando crashed during the second winter test. Questions were asked about the ‘strange’ nature of the incident and now Spanish publication El Mundo is reporting that in fact Fernando may have refused to drive the MP4-30 until the FIA investigation has taken place into the incident.

Concussion has in recent years been treated far more seriously by the medical profession, and as was discussed on last week’s TJ13 podcast, this turn of events is no surprise. Podcast Episode 27 here

Fernando Alonso expressed his elation at having the chance to attack his third world title in a "Properly professionally run organization"

Fernando Alonso expressed his elation at having the chance to attack his third world title in a “Properly professionally run organization”

 

Voice of the #F1 Fans: Renault looking to become constructors… Really?

•March 2, 2015 • 5 Comments

Disclaimer: TheJudge13 provides a platform for Formula 1 fans to publish their voice on matters relating to Formula 1. The views expressed in Voice of #F1 Fans are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.


Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor landroni

Renault

Renault ponders F1 future, including fully-branded works team, or so it seems. . .

 

Recently Renault F1’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul has been making waves in the media by floating the idea that Renault were looking to become a full-fledged constructor: “We are here for marketing. So if from a marketing perspective we need to do things a little bit differently, we are open minded. There is no ego. The priority is to get the marketing messages that we want to deliver in the sport in the most cost-efficient manner.

If you look at 2014, it was very expensive for us. We moved from four customers including very good teams, including the relationship with Enstone [Lotus], to having two teams both being under the ownership and control of Red Bull.

It means that in effect that we only have one customer, and our priority is to satisfy that customer. But it is a situation where we are fully dependent on Red Bull.

Is it sustainable for Renault? That is a question mark. I am not saying yes and I am not saying no. Right now, we want to have a good relationship with them.

So is Renault are seriously considering going down the road of the constructors? Their rhetoric certainly doesn’t sound like coming from someone who’s genuinely on the hunt to get in; it’s more like someone who wants to make others believe that they’re on the hunt to get in, and a tad inept at that it must be said.

There are some good reasons why it is hard to believe that Renault are seriously considering becoming a chassis manufacturer these days.

For one, they can’t even sort out their own engine properly: it took them 20 weeks last year to overcome— barely — teething reliability niggles and reach full potential. That full potential was barely good enough to be in front of the Ferrari.

And now they are throwing it out there that they would now be getting into the nitty-gritty of designing a chassis, too? Just for the fun of it, recall how well Honda managed that task, switching from engine supplier to full-blown manufacturer some 5 years back…

Red Bull Infinity - Renault

Fondue savoyarde

But then chatter around the F1 village is that they would entertain buying Toro Rosso… Oh, really? So a French-based manufacturer is considering a permanent base in Italy, while all the interesting action is always happening in the UK…

They may as well announce to the world that they’re intending to buy Caterham, as the team’s assets are for sale these days. All this with the obvious ambition of conquering the almighty Mercedes. Yeah, sounds just about right…

If Renault were seriously interested in F1, would they not want something with genuine championship-winning potential? The little Bulls haven’t done much of worth in recent history, or not so recent either, bar Vettel’s win of course.

It appears Toro Rosso’s sole purpose is to change diapers to test-tube prodigies harvested by the big Bulls.

A much more realistic target for a player with the pedigree of Renault, the 3rd most successful engine manufacturer in the history of the sport, would of course be Enstone (aka Lotus). But even Enstone is of uncertain value these days.

Last year Lotus produced a fridge of a chassis with the added benefit of using the overheating fondue provided by Renault themselves. Enstone had downsized considerably over the winter of 2013 as we witnessed the biggest exodus of F1 brains in recent history. This included the team principal – Eric the Believable, star driver Kimi and star designer James Allison.

Surely Enstone has by now lost much of its appeal to any serious investors with championship-winning ambitions.

However more worryingly, Renault has been making deafening noises on cost these past few years. They were reportedly the ones to have forced F1 into introducing engine development restrictions, or else they walked away. (How did that turn out for them?)

More recently, Renault couldn’t help themselves from airing dirty laundry and complaining in public of late payments from customers. Renault’s F1 president Jean-Michel Jalinier had this to say ahead of the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix:

In order to develop the action plan we need to secure resources and our resources are coming from two sources. One is Renault, and we have been able to secure the right resources, even human resources or financial resources, and the other part of it is coming from the teams because we are selling the engines to the teams.

On this part I must say that we are not at an acceptable situation because some of the teams are just late in payments, and at the time you need to spend resources to catch up you cannot afford to have those [late] payments.

“It is a serious concern. We can live with it up to a certain point, because we are developing, putting money in the business, and we need to get our resources.

Then, even as Ferrari managed to wrestle an end to a fixed homologation date beyond 2014, Renault was constantly concerned with costs. In October last year Remi Taffin, Renault’s Head of Track Operations, said without an ‘unfreeze’ on engine regualtions, the development would have continued regardless – but that operating a split strategy could cost more.

In terms of development it [the engine] is being developed anyway, so the guys, computers and dynos will be running. It’s fair to say we will be spending the money we’ve got and running the means we’ve got.

At some point if it’s a matter of introducing [an upgrade] mid-season then it’s just a matter of a few parts that will be overlaid at some point, but it’s not going to be a massive overspending I think. [But] if you choose a plan A for the start of the season and plan B from July onwards, then it could be costing a lot – because you have to double the sourcing of parts.

And at the prospect of 1000bhp engines and a clean slate—which Renault is in dire need of given Mercedes’ stratospheric dominance, they still complain about costs. Renault F1’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul revealed he was up for it – then raised the issue of cost again.

Personally I would love it, but I need someone to pay for it. I hear small teams, the independent teams, are not prepared to pay the price of the power unit. And at the same time I hear that we need to add 200bhp or something like that. So how do you connect both?

If you can find someone who is capable of paying for that, I would love to see that. I would love to see the current cars and the current drivers having to deal with 1000bhp.

“But there is no easy way and cheap way that you can do that with the current regulations. You need to make some drastic changes, particularly to the fuel allocation, and that is a different ballgame. You need to resize some of the internal components of the ICE but, if you need to change that, then you need to change the sizing of batteries, and the sizing of the MGU too.

“You need to redesign the whole power unit, so you need to be a bit careful.

So does this philosophy really represent that of an F1 manufacturer that has the guts to enter the fray of a full-blown spending war with Mercedes and Ferrari while Red Bull is on the naughty step? Much more likely is that Renault are simply trying to somehow improve their negotiating position relative to Red Bull and by all accounts the marriage isn’t going very well.

Last year they got egg on their faces (the shells courtesy of Spice Boy) from their loyal partner with whom they won 8 straight titles before 2014. At one point there was persistent chatter of Red Bull ditching Renault and starting building their own power train.

We have no desire to be an engine manufacturer,” said Christian Horner. “But we want to work with a strong partner. We want to be competitive, we want to run at the front and Renault need to make a step to close that gap down to Mercedes.

First of all we need to see what the plans from Renault are. A team like Red Bull isn’t short of choices but we want to make sure we’re competitive for the long term. Obviously designing and manufacturing our own engine isn’t currently part of that plan.

Now this year we’ve been hearing that Renault may deploy their development tokens “strategically”, implying to postpone serious developments until late 2015, to focus on improving the 2016 power unit. Cyril Abiteboul was unnecessarily frank when he spoke on this matter.

We have been capable of not only thinking of the next few races or next season, but the next seasons. Even though we have two years of partnership to go before hopefully there is a renewal, we need to maximise the value of money from the token allocation that we have.

“I think that there is a bit of strategic thinking to employ for this decision and therefore for the in-season development strategy for 2015.

I think we need to stay calm. I believe, and I hope I am not wrong, that we have enough of a performance step in order to look and envisage carefully the options for in-season engine development and do the right thing, not only for 2015 but also for 2016.

“We have options. We have to see how we play with the resources we have to develop this year’s engine or bring forward a bit of next year’s engine regulations.

More talk of limited resources, something Ferrari and Mercedes do little of – except when needing to appear politically correct.

This Renault speak is not the rhetoric of a manufacturer ready to throw the kitchen sink at resolving their own power until issues and quickly return to winning ways; neither does it have the ring of an organisation willing to sink the required cash into building a front running F1 works operation.

Renault sounds more like they are under pressure – and under the cost-cutting eye of CEO Carlos Ghosn. It has embarrassingly lost two customers over the course of one single year—amid persistent threats of infidelity from their main partners—and went from world-beating blowing machines (under the rear of one fingery boy) to overheating fondues in the time that it takes to say… Renault.

CEO Carlos Ghosn

How to cut costs, you ask?

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 2nd March 2015

•March 2, 2015 • 43 Comments

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This page will be updated throughout the day.

Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.

You may not realise how hugely important this is and has helped grow our community significantly

Previously on TheJudge13:

#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: “That Difficult 28th Album”


OTD Lite: 2000 – Womankind dismissed by wrinkled old man

Mercedes change highlights Renault shortcomings

Mclaren hoping to be ready by Spanish GP

Red Bull 2015 race livery

Chilton confirms 2015 race plans

FIA rule changes

 


OTD Lite: 2000 – Womankind dismissed by wrinkled old man

“In all likelihood women will never get the opportunity because no one will ever take them seriously,” said Bernie Ecclestone on this day 15 years ago. “Therefore they’re never ever going to get into a competitive race car. Who is going to take a chance? Ferrari can’t take a chance.”

More recently he suggested that women should remain in the kitchen like other white goods!! It seems that Mr E has maintained an antiquated stance when it comes to the fairer sex and Formula One. The only time they appear to be taken seriously is when they are brandishing flags as they line the grid at the start of races. Although no doubt Claire Williams and Monisha Kalternborn would probably argue a fair case.

Either way, with Susie Wolff getting time driving the Williams and Simona de Silvestro having had serious running in the Sauber last year it seemed as though F1 was finally changing its attitudes with regards female drivers – all to be set back by the Lotus F1 team’s announcement of Carmen Jorda as their development driver.

I include a picture of the lady for people who are behind with the news, but I have to admit, it took a little while to find one that actually depicted her in non-sexist racing attire.

CARMEN JORDA 150613 20

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The Grumpy Jackal

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Mercedes change highlights Renault shortcomings

At times in Formula One – as in any walk of life – it is the unspoken words that suggest possibly the largest damnation. Lotus technical director Nick Chester says the Enstone team is surprised how few teething problems it has experienced since the adoption of the German power unit.

Following what was best described as a character building season in 2014 – Lotus looks like a completely different outfit this winter having changed from the Renault power plant to Mercedes.

“Given the number of changes I’m pleased with how the running has gone and how few changes we’ve had … It’s massively different. Straight out of the box we were running a good number of laps. We’ve been running 130 laps a day no problem and the car is much, much more reliable. I almost don’t say it because we’d hate to retire in Melbourne now but the car has been very reliable.”

“It looks a lot better really. The power unit is a good step forward for us, and on the chassis there is a big step forward. We’ve got a much more consistent car, drivers can get a lot more out of it much more easily, it’s much easier to drive on the limit and more predictable, so we’ve got quite good steps in both areas.”

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Mclaren hoping to be ready by Spanish GP

In 2013 and 2014 Mclaren started off their campaigns with a car that was significantly behind the front runners and the team’s racing director Eric Boullier is suggesting that it could take until the Spanish Grand Prix on May 10th before they will be able to unleash the full potential of the MP4/30.

Over the course of 12 test days in Spain, McLaren completed just 379 laps with reliability issues. This mileage is similar to that of Red Bull in 2014. The key difference though is from a Honda perspective; in 2014 Renault had 4 teams running their power units – clocking up over 8000 kms – Honda have just under 1800 kms under their belt.

Yet, Eric Boullier remains optimistic for the season ahead.

“Looking back at the last four weeks, our winter test programme has been difficult. However, that wasn’t entirely unexpected: this time last year, we saw many teams in a similar situation when they introduced new power units for the first time. This year, we also had the added complexity that very tight packaging brings.”

The packaging being something that is surely a legacy of Peter Podromou having worked with Adrian Newey – at Red Bull all these years – and a design direction that has been brought to the Woking team. It was also the Red Bull that suffered the worst of Renault’s reliability issues during winter testing last year when the tight design caused considerable problems with over-heating.

“We won’t be as ready as we would like but we will do our best obviously. We have covered most of the issues, we have covered most of the systems and the positive is everything is working as per design and plan. The reliability is still a concern, clearly, and I don’t know how long it is going to take to be honest.

“We have some plans in place now which have been drastically improved in both our organisations working together. I think it’s going to take a few races but we should be at least maybe by Europe ready to be more competitive. It is true we didn’t do as many laps as we wanted. It is true it is going to hurt the development and the car on the performance side. But we will recover. It is just a delay, if I may say this. It is not that negative or disappointing.”

What may be of concern to the many fans of Mclaren is that Boullier was often found to be uttering similar assurances of progress throughout last year – and of more significance is the fact that maybe those media reports of Honda being some six months behind schedule are actually true.

The fact that Honda have to homologate their unit today and McLaren’s shambolic information policy after the Alonso accident won’t help much either. As we have said here on TJ13 as early as last year, Honda’s decision to concentrate on a single team is proving a liability so far.

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Red Bull 2015 race livery

“@redbullracing Here are our colours for 2015. Time to go racing! The

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It’s hardly ground breaking – but it is now FIA legal – and Red Bull delivered their internet marketing objectives racking up several million credits for comments and pictures posted about their “Zeb-Bull” livery.

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Chilton confirms 2015 race plans

 

Former F1 racer Max Chilton and Nissan regular Alex Buncombe complete Nissan’s squad of nine drivers for the WEC LMP1 entrant – the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.  This news was announced ahead of the Geneva Motor Show where Nissan’s LM P1 car will appear for the first time in Europe.

Max Chilton joins Nissan after two seasons in Formula One, where he became the rookie with the ‘safest pair of hands’ demonstrated when he finished every single one of the races in his debut season in 2013.  Fast and mistake-free is the order of the day in LM P1 racing so the British racer will hope to be an asset to Nissan’s pioneering new team.

“I’m honoured to have been asked to join a manufacturer as prestigious as Nissan in a championship that is growing year on year,” said Chilton.  “Le Mans has always had an amazing following and to be racing there as a works driver is a dream come true.  My aim has always been to race at the highest level and the technology that has gone into the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is as impressive as a Formula 1 car.  Having met with the team and seen first-hand the dedication and desire to win that exists within this project I can’t wait to get on track.”

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Fans of motorsport videos on YouTube will need no introduction to the racing skills of Alex Buncombe. He has become a star via his onboard camera videos, such as the one from Monza that showed him overtaking 18 cars on the opening lap of a GT race last year, which over half a million people have watched.  He is less known for his work as the mentor to all of Nissan’s GT Academy winners since the programme began in 2008.  Now he can’t wait to get his GoPro in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.

“This is a genuine dream come true for me,” said Buncombe. “I was shocked when I got the call and I haven’t been able to wipe the grin off my face ever since.  It’s very rewarding being the mentor of the GT Academy winners, especially when I see how much the likes of Lucas (Ordonez) and Jann (Mardenborough) have gone on to achieve.  Now I’m going to race at Le Mans with them in the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.  I already know a fair amount about the car and I can’t wait to have a go.  It’s a radical design and, as with all new cars it will take some developing and fine-tuning, but it’s incredibly exciting and I’m so happy to be on the team.”

Chilton joins Marc Gene, Michael Krumm, Jann Mardenborough, Olivier Pla and Harry Tincknell for the season-opening race at Silverstone on 12 April. The configuration of the driver line-ups for the #22 and #23 Nissans will be announced at a later date.

Buncombe will join the team for the Le Mans 24 Hours where he will race in the #21 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO with Tsugio Matsuda and Lucas Ordonez.

LM P1 testing continues this week at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, USA with Max Chilton, Marc Gene, Jann Mardenborough, Olivier Pla and Harry Tincknell on driving duty.

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FIA rule changes

There has been a lot of who ha over the proposed driver helmet restrictions announced by the FIA last week. Sebastian Vettel has suggested he will flout the rules depending on the penalties he will suffer for doing so.

The FIA have today clarified their positions on the matter. Article 21.1 of F1’s sporting regulations has been revised and now states: “In order for drivers to be easily distinguished from one another whilst they are on the track, the crash helmet of each driver must be presented in substantially the same livery at every event during a championship season.”

Further, the FIA have clarified what will happen to driver’s F1 numbers when they finish cometing in Formula One. “A driver’s career in Formula 1 will be deemed to have ended if he does not participate in an event for two entire consecutive championship seasons.”

‘An event’ – presumably this would include an FP1 session – though at present it is unclear. Also intangible is where the line will be that defines a ‘substantially different helmet design’.

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Day 12 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Afternoon Report

•March 1, 2015 • 31 Comments

THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED EVERY FEW MINUTES

Circuit de Catalunya

Hello and welcome all persons out there on the interwebs as the politically correct collective of TJ13 commentators resume their entirely objective coverage of the last (that’s too nihilistic)… of the chronologically advanced day of Formula One testing at Barcelona, Spain.

So far we had only one red coloured cloth event, when Latitude-disadvantaged person Daniel Ricciardo had to abandon his vehicle in the aftermath of a seizure of function event earlier today. we have been told however that his vehicle has been restored to working order by the gender-neutral collective in the Red Bull-themed garage.

There seems to be a resumption of work event below our commentary booth as we are sensing a slight tremble under our feet.

green And there is the green cloth being waved!

Northern European inhabitant Valteri Bottas returns to the dedicated for service area after what is commonly referred to as an ‘installation lap’ and practices the start of a race.

Island inhabitant Jenson Button is reported to have started his run, which elates many observers. Their expression of emotion is indeed quite spirited.

Although Mr. Button has indeed circumnavigated the track successfully, many observers are disappointed at the lack of something called ‘a lap time’. Apparently the British national has only managed to circle the designated route four times so far.

green There is an interruption of activity event!

Apparently, Venezuelan national Pastor Maldonado has involuntarily collided with track-side objects.

It appears that after Mr. Maldonado’s destructive misadventure, there will be an extended period of reconstructive activity.

green There is the resumption of activity event!

There is a quite elated celebration among English-speaking members of the journalism community as Jenson Button finally completes a lap.

We are informed that Mr. Adrian Newey is less than pleased with the performance of Renault: “Those frequent failures worry me.” Mr. Newey says. “It’s always something else.”

The wisdom of allying with the French has always been questionable at best. It eludes my wisdom why Mr. Newey is surprised.

When Mr. Arai from Japan was asked about the unique sound of the Honda engine, he reacted rather nervously by saying “secret, sorry”. We think that is a much more palatable way to say “our shit doesn’t run on all pots yet.

Meanwhile Red Bull have flown in a new car. Several Force India folk are said to have fainted.

green And we’re stopped!

Verstappen’s Baby Bull rests on a service road near turn 3.

A bit of a blackout as I got a call from Parent Hippos, but I’m back. The track is green again and lo and behold – McLaren managed an entire three laps without exploding. Jenson manages a 1:26.323 on soft tires. Nobody is seen quivering.

With that the Hippo trundles off and hands the mic over to our friend from the distant shores of Americaland – the stage is all yours Mr. Trumpets…

Well thanks again Mr. Hippo for your adroit and ummm… “colorful” coverage. This being the day of the week that Ms. Trumpet55 deigns to feed me in the AM, I am ready for whatever brand of crazy is scheduled for this afternoon.

I will start with some lap times from Vettel’s last stint: 1:33.1, 1:32.1, 1:32.8 and 1:36.6. Not sure what he was on about and back at TJ13 towers the debate still rages as to whether Button’s 3 laps represented their actual race sim or not. One can easily see both sides of the argument after the week they’ve had.

Rosberg has been called in to box with 93 laps under his firesuit and the team crowing about his mileage. That’s already more in hand than Lewis yesterday with two and a half hours to go. Lewis lost a fair amount of time to a 3 hour “experiment” that kept him off track for a big chunk of the afternoon, but no word on its success as of yet.

Joining him in the pits is Bottas. Williams wrapped Felipe’s test up almost an hour early yesterday so perhaps they are trying to stretch a bit today to keep the sponsors happy.

Button rolls cautiously out of the pits. Yes, under his own power! Once you regain your seats I will point out he is joining only Vettel and Nasr. Though that’s not as safe as it sounds as Nasr has already demonstrated his ability to unerringly hit other cars with the track mostly empty

The race is on in the Toro Rosso garage to sort out the engine problem that stopped him earlier. And while I dig up that bit of news, Button returns to the pits, having rocked up a 1:25.994 and bringing his lap counter up to a staggering 23. That, by the way, in McLaren laps is the equivalent of almost 2 GP distances.

AS the McHonda boys congratulate themselves, Rosberg decides to increase his lap total and is back out on track sporting the hard shoes.

In actual news, here are the times from Perez’ last stint on the Medium tyre:
1:31.8, 1:31.7, 1:32.1, 1:32.2, 1:32.1, 1:32.3, 1:32.5, 1:32.5, 1:32.1, 1:33.6, 1:33.0, 1:32.8, 1:32.8, 1:33.0, 1:32.9, 1:33.1 minutes.

Basically a lot of very slow, steady laps which is either due to their utter lack of spare parts or a preview of their strategy for the rest of the year, given their financial position. Or both.

Vettel, meanwhile is turning laps on the same tyre, thus far: 1:30.7, 1:30.5 and 1:30.5, 1:30.6, 1:30.6 thus far.

Bottas has wandered back on track whilst I was transcribing lap times and Rosberg has joined him, cracking north of the 100 lap mark. Oh, and running 1:25’s for starters and hauling in Vettel to boot.

Warning: Gratuitous Picture of Williams ahead

Apropos of nothing as Nasr continues to endlessly circle the track, currently the lap leader on 123 with Rosberg P2 on 104.

Not a great day for Red Bull, Ricciardo out on the softs but with just 25 laps barely ahead of McLaren are words no Team Principal wishes to hear.

Button, too, has disappeared without comment, his car holed up in the garage and with just 2 hours left, not a lot of time for that promised race sim. Unless, of course, we have already seen it in the form of that 3 lap run. Apologies, Macca fans, I said the same about Lotus and Renault last year.

Track is getting busy again, with Rosberg being the only driver in the pits not potentially suffering from some kind of mechanical disaster. He joins Verstappen, Maldonado and Button in a thumb twiddling contest for the moment.

Here’s a lap count look to assuage your ennui:

Nasr – 126
Rosberg – 106
Perez – 90
Bottas – 83
Vettel – 79
Verstappen – 68
Maldonado – 36
Ricciardo – 26
Button – 23

And since we Yanks all love statistics, working backward here are some stint times for you:
Rosberg Hards: 1:25.9, 1:26.0, 1:28.7, 1:27.4, 1:27.3, 1:27.4, 1:27.6, 1:27.9, 1:27.9, 1:28.3 when he caught Vettel

Nasr Hards: 1:31.4, 1:31.2, 1:31.0, 1:30.8, 1:30.8, 1:31.0, 1:31.0, 1:31.2, 1:31.2, 1:31.2, 1:31.6, 1:31.7 , 1:31.8, 1:31.7, 1:31.8, 1:31.9, 1:31.9, 1:31.9, 1:32.3, 1:32.1, 1:32.0, 1:32.1, 1:32.4, 1:32.0, 1:32.4. 24 laps in case you don’t want to count them yourself.

Vettels as well on Mediums: 1:30.7, 1:30.5, 1:30.6, 1:30.6, 1:30.3, 1:30.6, 1:306, 1:31.8 (Rosberg overtakes him), 1:31.1, 1:31.4, 1:31.3, 1:31.2, 1:31.1, 1:31.4, 1:31.1, 1:31.5

Just Nasr and Perez now, what could possibly go wrong? Rhetorical question that, answers in the comments if you must. Nasr up to 138 laps and Perez up to 102.

This from 25 minutes ago:

The mind truly boggles. They’ve not been out since. Is it possible they truly think we won’t notice? Senseless optimism? Or a dedicated pro grinding on in the face of impossibility. Again, answers in comments, thanks.

Onto actual news, Ricciardo back out on Softs and up to 34 laps. And Rosberg, too, not done for the day apparently. Nico’s out on the Hards, though.

Afternoon shadows are beginning to fall, and with them, the temperatures. Both the track temp and the air temp have dropped several degrees in the last half hour. Currently 18C Air and 29C Track.

Reports of Motorhomes being moved now prevalent as the teams are beginning to disassemble the massive infrastructure that support them in anticipation of the end of testing.

Team Clean (Sauber) continue their impressive reliability run, up to 142 laps thus far with no issues. Ricciardo’s first few lap times on the softs have come in as well: 1:28.3, 1:28.9 and 1:28.9.

Red Bull confirm that it was an ERS problem that forestalled Danny Boy’s running today, but he is now out racking up some miles to make up for that. He’s over 40 laps and a full race distance is in sight.

Unless, of course, he pits the moment I write that. Which just really happened.

Once you finish having a laugh at that, here are the times from Nasr’s last stint on the Hard tyre, which finishes his race sim: 1:29.9, 1:29.8, 1:30.6, 1:30.5, 1:30.3, 1:30.3, 1:30.0, 1:30.1, 1:30.2, 1:30.0, 1:30.6, 1:30.2, 1:30.1, 1:30.0, 1:30.5, 1:30.2, 1:30.1, 1:30.6, 1:30.6, 1:30.3, 1:30.5, 1:30.1

Ricciardo’s last 2 laps: 1:29.5 and 1:29.5.

Rosberg rolls into the pits and it’s just Perez for the moment on track. 104 laps and P5 to his name at the moment, running on the Mediums. Track has dropped another 2 degrees, but the air temperature has stayed constant.

Vettel rejoins on Mediums, saving me from the embarrassment of rampant speculation. With 89 (actually 83, apologies) laps on board, not much of a stretch to think they want to get over 100 for the day.

STOP THE PRESSES (of the Update button) JENSON ON TRACK!!!

That’s right, the McHonda is not hopelessly broken (yet) as it takes to the track on the SuperSoft tyres. Why, whatever could they be up to on those? Certainly not a glory run on a cooling track…

Ok, silliness over. Rosberg pits with ruthless Teutonic efficiency. 118 drama free laps.

Unconfirmed reports of Yakety Sax playing in the Macca garage are unconfirmed. But it would be kind of funny if they did. Till Ron made them stop. Wouldn’t be so funny then.

Rosberg did an in and out, but he’s on soft tyres this time. 119 laps and an hour to go. And now he’s back out, let’s see if this will be for times or tyre degradation.

The lads at AMuS report game over at Williams. Car and kit packed, km limit reached for testing, 4,192 all told. Again an early exit and perhaps a real sign that they’re planning to take Red Bull out of 2nd in the WCC. Assuming no problems with the Mercs, P3-P8 this year could offer some of the best racing we have seen in years.

Rosberg’s previous stint times on Hards: 1:25.7, 1:26.1, 1:26.4, 1:26.9, 1:27.1, 1:27.3, 1:27.5, 1:28.0, 1:27.9 and 1:28.0

Perez is in the pits now with 120 laps on the day, as is Button, who managed to turn a 1:25.327 on the Supersofts. Not exactly staggeringly quick, that. Good for P6 on the day just behind the Force India. Amusingly enough, perhaps, that was where they often found themselves at the start of last season as well. The more things change…

Meanwhile, here’s a little toy for you to play with:

One question though? When did it stop being a steering wheel and become a “Control Centre”? (Did I spell that Britishly enough for you, AJ?)

While I was amusing myself with that, Rosberg has continued to run, but no fast times. Vettel is approaching 100 laps and Ricciardo almost up to 50 at this point.

THIS JUST IN: BUTTON STILL IN PITS!!!

(Sorry, had to do that at least once)

An hour to go and Williams is done, Rosberg just back in and only Ricciardo and Vettel continue to work on track. Though one suspects that the mechanics in the Macca garage are also hard at work, no doubt muttering things like “I told them that was a stupid idea, but would they listen?” very, very quietly under their breath.

And just to make it exciting, Ricciardo is now within hailing distance of the Vettel’s Ferrari as Sebastian is comleting his 17th lap on the Mediums. It appears an overtake is imminent.

Lotus have packed it in as well as Williams. No final word from Toro Rosso, but the issue was mechanical and described as a several hour fix so it was going to be a push anyway to get young Max back out.

Nasr has rejoined the track on Softs. With 145 laps and P3 we’ll have to wait and see exactly what he is up to.

While we wait to see if Nasr tries to go faster, here are the times from Vettel’s last stint on Mediums: 1:29.7, 1:29.7, 1:29.8, 1:29.8, 1:30.2, 1:30.1, 1:30.0, 1:30.6, 1:30.6, 1:31.1, 1:30.9, 1:30.7, 1:31.0, 1:31.0, 1:31.9, 1:31.7

And as I get that down, Vettel is tossed back out on the unmarked prototype tyre from Pirelli. It’s a Medium with a lower operating range for winter testing.

Having pitted with his Softs, we can conclude that Rosberg was on a data collection run of some kind as he did not improve his P6 time at all.

And it’s the boys in the Toro Rosso garage getting some kind of bonus today as young Verstappen is back on track with 35 minutes left in the session.

And Button is back out on the Supersofts again. It might yet be 30 laps for McHonda. The suspense is killing me. Will they make it?

And the answer is yes, but in the pits so no, not really.

Rosberg again out on the Softs, joining Perez, Nasr, Vettel and Verstappen.

Updated lap count for you as well:

Nasr – 149
Rosberg – 131
Perez – 120
Vettel – 106
Bottas – 89
Verstappen – 69
Ricciardo – 58
Maldonado – 36
Button – 29

We now have the source of Button’s problem. A water leak, apparently. They must have fixed it long enough for the installation lap. I won’t say that I predicted this yesterday in comments, but oops did I say that out loud?

Verstappen, meanwhile is back on it. Up to the 1:25’s and 74 laps before being called back in.

Scrubbed Softs and practice starts on the agenda for Rosberg during the last half hour. Perhaps a whiff of Abu Double in the air?

Verstappen back out and rocks up a 1:24.702, good for P5.

Button stays miserably parked in the garage, so a good guess is they didn’t fix that water leak as well as they thought.

Verstappen back in after his short glory run as well, leaving Vettel, Nasr, Ricciardo and Rosberg for the moment.

Ray of hope, anyone? Pat Symonds of Williams saying Merc suffered strong tyre degradation today that reminded him of 2012. Of course, at 2 seconds a lap one can generally afford an extra pit stop. Or is it possible that the cooler tracks have hidden the problem from them? We’ll all find out in a couple of weeks.

It has also been reported that the cause of Maldonado’s crash was actually not Maldonado but his brakes, which failed. Still, it ended their day early and leave them rather hard to place for the season opener.

Everyone seems to have given up for the moment except Vettel, Rosberg, Ricciardo and Verstappen. 10 minutes to go.

Game over for McHonda being bandied about the internet as well. Should be an interesting FP1 for them. By interesting, of course, I mean horrible.

Few more tidbits, Verstappen has indeed gone faster than Ricciardo, with a 1:24.527. Not quite as fast as Sainz Jr., yesterday, so that’s shaping up to be a good battle indeed.

checkered There’s the table cloth!!

At the end it was Ricciardo, Verstappen and Perez together with Vetel trailing in to finish up the weekend.

Though no doubt deeper analysis will be taking place over the next few days, aside from the obvious trend of the Death Star (Mercedes) crushing all hope, it does look like both Sauber and Force India will be playing the long game on the tyres, hoping to make time through fewer pit stops.

Lotus is a bit of a mystery as they have been running for glory and sponsors, but if they have the cash they might yet have the pace to make a few surprise finishes.

Delightfully it appears to be a full cage death match between Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari for every place except the top two, with an occasional whiff of Toro Rosso thrown in for good measure.

It’s worth pointing out that though Symonds singled Merc out for tyre problems today, that had been one of William’s own weak spots from last year.

Here I am counting up the teams and thinking, “who’s been left out?” and why it’s McHonda of course. Possibly because I’m sure everyone on the team would like to forget the last two weeks as quickly as possible but mostly because it appears their role at the beginning of the year will be limited to comic relief.

That just leaves the completely blank slate of Manor-Marussia, about which we will know nothing until FP1 of the first Grand Prix of 2015,in astonishingly deadly Upside-Down land.

Thanks again for stopping by, for all the team it’s been a pleasure!

Position DRIVER TEAM CHASSIS TIME DIFF # Fast Lap Tyre
1 Bottas Williams FW37 01:23.1 - 89 Medium
2 Vettel Ferrari SF15-T 01:23.5 +0.406 129 Development tyre
3 Nasr Sauber C34 01:24.0 +0.960 159 Soft
4 Verstappen Toro Rosso STR10 01:24.5 +1.464 85 Super soft
5 Ricciardo Red Bull RB11 01:24.6 +1.575 72 Hard
6 Perez Force India VJM08 01:25.1 +2.050 130 Medium
7 Rosberg Mercedes W06 01:25.2 +2.123 148 Soft
8 Button McLaren MP4-30 01:25.3 +2.264 30 Super soft
9 Maldonado Lotus E23 01:28.3 +5.209 35 Medium

Day 12 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Morning Report

•March 1, 2015 • 32 Comments

THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED EVERY FEW MINUTES

Circuit de Catalunya

Hello and welcome everybody to TJ13a coverage of the final day of F1 pre-season testing. Today’s action will be covered by the Fat Hippo and Matt Trumpets again.

green Green Flag!

Red Bull are being ridiculous again. They’ve switched to a different garage to bluff the photographers. The only thing we could make out was that the back end got even tighter. Note to Red Bull: If you don’t want people to know what you changed, don’t mark the spot with bright green Floviz paint.

Force India are in dire straights and Andy Green is quite open about it. He says that they are low on spares, so if the wrong part breaks it will be an early end of the day for Checo. It looks like after the attempted necromancer job on Marussia and the resulting shitstorm they don’t even try to keep up appearances anymore.

Vettel goes out with what looks like a revised nose and I think a different front wing as well. He marks a 1:29 lap on soft tyres, but Rosberg is having none of that and does a 1:27 on the winter tyre. It looks as if Merc are not willing to tolerate any gods beside themselves. However, their massive mileage is coming round to bite Merc in the derriere. Word is they went through most of their tyre contingent already.

Meanwhile Rosberg has raised the bar to a 1.25,492. Normally we don’t see such times so early in the session. God knows what they’re up to, but I get the feeling that we’ll be taught a lesson in ‘deal with it’ today. We won’t see any times on super softs as Merc didn’t order those, but as Rosberg proved two days ago, they are well able to demoralize the opposition on soft tyres just as well.

The Ferrari has two lights near the diffusor. Since it is a wee bit early to pose as a christmas tree, some sort of measirung run seems to be going on.

LØL. Do you know where Arvidsjaur is? Apparently it’s a town at the arse-end of Sweden. That’s where Rosberg is headed tomorrow for a sponsorship event, accompanied by Mika Häkkinen, Toto and his lovely wife Susie. You just gotta love corporate obligations.

Maldonado finishes his sixth lap, but hasn’t posted a time yet as everytime he’s driving through the pitlane instead of crossing the line on track.

The AMuS boys next door have been quite quick with pictures most of the days, so we’re waiting until they have some snaps of the weird light show on the butt of Vettel’s Ferrari. Rosberg has found some medium tyres at the back of the garage and misses his best time by a mere 0.014.

Here’s ‘Our shit is broken’ in Ronspeak:

Vettel goes out without disco-lights and posts a 1.28,805 on medium tyres. Quite a catholic pace from everyone except Rosberg so far.

10am

Having ended up at the bottom of the pile yesterday, Danny RIC positions himself a bit more prominent in 2nd place with a 1:26.587 on winter prototype tyres.

When a German is chased by a Dutchman it normally means the Teutone has weed in the pocket, but as young Max chases Seb’s vehicle, we are sure that isn’t the case. Little Max isn’t old enough yet to know what weed is.

Force India might be strapped for parts, but they’re certainly not short of flowviz paint. That VJM7.5 looks like there’s been a veritable bukkake session going on in the FI garage.

Rosberg comes back out again on winter prototype tyres. We’ve investigated and found out that Merc have chewed through their entire supply of soft tyres and most of the mediums. That means there won’t be another shocker today. Merc made their point two days ago.

There’s been a short red flag period as Danny RIC’s Camo Bull croaked at the end of the pitlane, but the session resumes after less than ten minutes. Back out on track Vettel cracks the 1:26s on medium tyres. Alonso must be utterly devastated. Just as he left the Ferrari looks much better than what they offered last year. When it comes to being at the wrong team at any time, he surely can mix it with Jean Alesi and Chris Amon.

Bottas demotes the stricken Camo Bull to third with a 1:26.440, while Merc have found another set of mediums and Rosberg does stable 1:26 laps.

I’m really starting to like Mauricio Arrivabene. When news broke yesterday that Bernie plans to reduce the number of paddock passes for Melbourne, the Ferrari boss tried what it is like to watch the action from the other side of the fence, grabbed test driver Guttierrez and headed for the grandstand sendíng the fans into hyperventilation mode. “This could be a way to get closer to the fans,” the Italian remarked drily, but he’s well aware that the toad from Suffolk doesn’t suffer mingling with the plebs lightly. “I’m expecting to be called by Bernie,” Mauricio says, aware of his fate.

Meanwhile it’s another clusterfuck in the Mclaren garage. They still have a big phat zero next to their name. How in the name of all that’s holy do you get it wrong like that?? They wanted to run a race simulation today. The only thing they simulated so far is the Thursday before the race…

Vettel and Perez are back out on mediums. Nobody seems to be interested in serious lap times so far.

11am

The Mclaren fans seem to become quite fed up with their team’s ineptitude. The twittersphere would make a trucker blush.

Thanks to the boys of Auto Motor und Sport we have a picture of the Fezza with disco lights…Sebastian-Vettel-Ferrari-Formel-1-Test-Barcelona-1-Maerz-2015-fotoshowImage-8ae9370c-847091

Jeez, even the live-timing is broken today. When the system boots up again, we see Valteri Bottas on top with a 1:25.099 on winter prototypes. Merc doesn’t seem to be the only team that has gone through all their ‘normal’ tyres.

Fezza have some mediums left and Vettel orbits the track with times that the Hippo describes as: meh… 1:26s for the German.

Two and a half hour gone and McHonda are still ‘checking systems’. Jenson must feel like being in the midst of a cruel prank by now. Should have retired and gone to race Porsches at LeMans, pal. At least they’re not perpetually broken.

Track conditions look good, but for some reason times are utterly mediocre today. My pet theory is that teams run high on fuel.

Mauricio Arrivabene chalks up the winter tests as a success, but despite seeing Merc’s massive advantage he sees the team’s future in the drivers: We have two polar opposites. One barely talks, the other talks a lot.” MA admits that Kimi is a wee bit enigmnatic. Sometimes you talk to him and he just walks away being silent. At some point he comes back and wants to talk to you when you already thought that’s been it.” The convo with Seb apparently is a multi-language affair. “I ask him something in English and he responds in Italian. Seb is a true ferrari fanboy. He’s already 120% part of the family.

Mauricio’s unique approach to algebra notwithstanding, the action on track continues and valteri lays down a 1:23.063 on supersoft tyres, still 0.4 off what Rosberg did with soft tyres, without DRS and his finger up his nose…

NC17-alert. Here’s the jizzed upon Force India…
Sergio-Perez-Force-India-Formel-1-Test-Barcelona-1-Maerz-2015-fotoshowImage-dab2bfc8-847095

We’re hearing that Sauber plans to run a quali sim before lunch and race simulations after feeding.

12pm

Is this some kind of ritual or something? Everyday at 12pm the action dries up. The track is empty.

BOOM. Felipe Nasr puts his Sauber in 2nd with a 1:24.852 on soft tyres.

Perez, Maldonado and Rosberg join Nasr on track. Peresz posts a 1:26 on mediums. Rosberg beats that by more than a second on the same compound.

The action has died down again. Rosberg orbits the track in the 1:27s, not even breaking a sweat. Nobody else can be bothered. They’re all in the pits.

Ba-dum-tsss. Ferrari is out on supersofts, but Vettel comes short 0.2s of Räikkönens time of yesterday and 0.4 off the fastest time of the day. You’ll have to do better than that, pal…

Perez does a 1:25 on supersofts and local wildlife is heard cackling…

Well, knock me over with a feather – there’s a McLaren on the track. Only 3:55 hours after the session started. Not bad, lads, not bad!

Vettel narrowly misses out on improving his best time while Button completes his second lap and nothing has exploded in his face so far.

checkered There’s the table cloth!!

That’s it for the first session – Merc-powered teams have been the flavour of the day and McLaren have been shambolic as always, so normal business has been resumed. We will meet you in an hour when the last 4 hours of this year’s pre-season testing take off.

1. Bottas Williams 1:23.063m
2. Vettel Ferrari 1:23.469m
3. Nasr Sauber 1:24.023m
4. Perez Force India 1:25.113m
5. Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.186m
6. Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:26.267m
7. Ricciardo Red Bull 1:26.587m
8. Maldonado Lotus 1:28.272m

Day 11 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Afternoon Report

•February 28, 2015 • 24 Comments

THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED EVERY FEW MINUTES

Circuit de Catalunya

Hello and welcome as we go into the second hour of today’s penultimate testing session.

green Green Flag!

We’ve seen a healthy amount of running this morning with all but a few teams going for fast lap times. Let’s see if that trend continues.

While the Hippo made the cold buffet look like an eatery in Ethiopia, we got confirmation that the horns on the Baby Bull that were spotted earlier today were indeed devices to measure the level of flex on the front wing.

The two former team mates Massa and Räikkönen are at it again, having chased each other’s times in the morning, but so far their times are nowhere near what we saw before lunch. That does not surprise however as Massa is on hard tyres and the Ferrari is wearing medium socks.

Stable 90 second laps for Massa on hard tyres. It’s nothing to scare Mercedes, but there is little doubt who has the best chance to grab some of the bread-crumbs the Germans will benevolently swipe off the table.

Lotus go out with a new rear wing. Let’s see if that makes a difference.

Massa’s times start to tumble. There’s either been a problem or that Williams is not too kind to its footwear. The hard compund shouldn’t degrade like that after a handfull of laps. Lotus have done more stable laps on the mediums. His team calls an end to his run that reads like this : 1:30.7, 1:30.8, 1:29.7, 1:29.6, 1:29.9, 1:30.1, 1:30.3, 1:30.2, 1:30.0, 1:30.3, 1:30.5, 1:30.5, 1:31.7, 1:31.4, 1:31.8, 1:31.4.

That reads pretty much like Seb’s runs yesterday, but the tyres went quite early considering they are the closest thing to tritanium that Pirelli has to offer.

Grosjean improves his time on soft tyres, but he is still bog last, woefully off the pace with a 1:27.736.

Some car had a little wee in the pit lane and track workers are laying down the white oil absorbing agent. Grosjean has improved by 0.200, but is still at the bottom of the pile.

Räikkönen and Ricciardo continue their longruns. The Finn has already put twenty laps into his medium tyres. Not too bad, considering how quickly the Williams nommed the hard compound: 1.30,6 – 1.30,6 – 1.30,2 – 1.30,3 – 1.30,4 – 1.30,7 – 1.31,7 – 1.30,7 – 1.30,9 – 1.31,0 – 1.31,2 – 1.31,1 – 1.31,4 – 1.31,4 – 1.32,0 – 1.31,8 – 1.31,8 – 1.32,3

Good news from Americaland. Matt is nearly done shovelling all the snow out of the drive way and will soon be able to take over. Prepare for a test on your rules knowledge. There’ll be a quiz at the end ;)

Force India seems to have lost some of the urge for mileage, they’ve now been overtaken by Ferrari, who complete their 79th lap.

Mercedes may have the scary lap times, but the Camo Bull at the hand of Danny RIC counters with mindboggling consistency on medium tyres. Fifteen laps, all within a second. That’s so much accuracy – Germans nurse a semi looking at it: 1.30,2 – 1.30,0 – 1.30,1 – 1.30,2 – 1.30,2 – 1.30,2 – 1.30,4 – 1.30,1 – 1.30,4 – 1.30,3 – 1.30,8 – 1.30,4 – 1.30,4 – 1.30,7 – 1.30,9

For Williams that means they’ll have some work to do when it comes to working them tyres.

The Australian comes back in and the car goes silent. No race simulation then. Meanwhile Kimi goes back out on hard tyres and starts with three laps below 90 seconds. Not bad, Mr. Iceman, not bad…

As we hear, it’s not only the hippo who thinks that half-arsed contraption of Force India is junk. Andy Green admitted that FI have no illusion about making it out of Q1 until the real VJM08 is ready, That’s why Vijay’s ragtag band concentrates purely on race speed. If that lap on supersofts is anything to go by, they better be or Manor might score a few more points before them. Being the cynic that I am, I’d say – instant karma for that attempted heist job on Marussia. It’s just a pity that Hülkenberg has to waste precious years in such a piece of junk.

Räikkönen is on another longrun: 1.29,7 – 1.29,9 – 1.29,3 – 1.30,4 – 1.30,4 – 1.29,4 – 1.30,2 – 1.30,8 – 1.30,7 -1.30,8 – 1.30,8 – 1.31,1 on hard tyres.

Just to confuse the Russians… Räikkönen switches to the experimental winter tyre. What’s that all about?

Little note on the side. We haven’t seen Lewis for a while. That’s quite a long time for ‘setup changes’. Anyway – word from the land of the free and the home of the brave is that Matt is ready to go. Over to you Mr. Trumpets…

Thanks much Mr. Hippo, indeed the coffee has been made and the snow shoveled over on this side of the pond.

Meanwhile the wheels on the Mercedes go absolutely nowhere as the car sits in the garage, as you most astutely note, and Hamilton’s mileage gap to Rosberg increases. It must be quite the “experiment” being cooked up by Mercedes head chef.

Sainz is on a race run and the new sparklers are indeed working as ordered by Mr E. Let’s hope he doesn’t get a look at the new NISMO LMP1 car that has hood mounted exhaust that shoots flames into the windshield. It might give him ideas.

Raikkonen has dropped to the 1:28’s on his run meanwhile as the laps pile up. Here is the latest count:

Raikkonen – 99
Hulkenberg – 99
Ricciardo – 88
Sainz – 78
Massa – 76
Ericsson – 68
Grosjean – 59
Magnussen – 39
Hamilton – 36

And immediately Twitter accuses me of being slow as I see Kimi has crossed the 100 lap barrier, as Grosjean is the only driver to actually, you know, go faster, though in that case it’s a bit relative as he’s managed to barely eclipse Sainz Jr.’s time by 0.2s. Here’s a look at the fast times:

1 Felipe Massa Williams 1m23.262s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m23.276s +0.014
3 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m24.477s +1.215
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m24.939s +1.677
5 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1m25.225s +1.963
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m25.471s +2.209
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m25.742s +2.480
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m26.112s +2.850
9 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 1m26.330s +3.068

Massa emerges from the pits on the Medium tyre and Ricciardo calls it a halt after 17 laps on the same to bring us through the half hour.

Delightfully Ricciardo Sainz and Raikkonen manage to align themselves at the start finish at full speed to the delight of those watching.

Here are some stint times from Ricciardo’s latest run on Mediums: 1:29.9, 1:29.8, 1:29.9, 1:29.9, 1:30.0, 1:30.1, 1:30.2, 1:30.4, 1:30.5, 1:30.5

Hamilton is out of the garage, finally as Hulkenberg continues to plod about the circuit racking up the miles in the 1:31’s.

Massa’s long run starts out with a promising 1:27.9, 1:28.4, 1:28.2 as Ferrari continue to deliver laps for their new boss, sliding down into the backside of 1:29’s on the unmarked Pirelli.

Lewis first 2 laps 1:30.327 and then 1:26.686 as Kimi ends his race sim with 60 laps, starting in the 1:27’s and ending up at 1:33.986 on his third stint.

Pirelli confirm the obvious that most teams are on race sims so fast laps are unlikely till the end of the session.

And here we have some Kimi times:
1:27.2, 1:28.3, 1:28.1, 1:28.2, 1:28.1, 1:28.5, 1:28.2, 1:28.0, 1:28.3, 1:28.6, 1:28.4, 1:28.8, 1:29.9 (overtaking), 1:28.6, 1:28.5, 1:28.7, 1:28.6, 1:29.1, 1:29.7, 1:29.1, 1:29.2, 1:29.1, 1:29.4, 1:29.5.

For those of you keeping score at home, those were on the unmarked medium prototype from Pirelli, designed to work well at lower temperature.

Not working so well is Hamilton, who put in a few anemic 1:26’s and then rolled back into the garage to fiddle with the spices a bit.

Apparently my confirmation of the Pirelli spec has put me at odds with reality as no sooner do I update than Hamilton is back out of the garage, again on the Mediums.

FI take top trumps as well for lap count from Ferrari as the Hulk completes his 119th lap. Given the sad state of their team at the moment, it’s likely they will focus on running as few stops as possible and count on Perez’ tendency to random collisions and Hulkenberg’s ability to imitate a lorry as their only hope at grabbing a few crumbs from under the table.

Apparently it’s siesta time as the track is down to two lonely runners, Hamilton and Sainz Jr., hereafter abbreviated Jr. as my typing skills have gone a bit retrograde in the off season.

And just like that time to get back to work. Grosjean and Massa roll out, followed by Ericcson. Here’s a lap count update:
Hulkenberg – 121
Raikkonen – 118
Sainz – 100
Ricciardo – 94
Massa – 88
Grosjean – 81
Ericsson – 74
Hamilton – 46
Magnussen – 39

And that’s it for Lewis who rolls into the pit having crossed the 50 lap mark to bring his total up to 52 for the day. Nothing special in those lap times so it’s going to be a wait and see regarding the success of the changes.

In entirely predictable news, an oil leak has been found on the McHonda which brings an end to K-Mags day. Still better than the abysmal 7 laps on Thursday, one hopes that Honda execs are investing in Speech to Text software heavily as soon their dwindling number of digits will make typing memo’s blaming each other next to impossible.

Force India the team may have lost out on Marussia’s prize money (for the moment anyway) but apparently they’ve not lost their sense of humour:

Ericsson has kicked off his race sim and works with Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Junior circling the track with him.

And for those wondering about the precise times of Hamilton’s run here they are: 1:25.8, 1:26.0, 1:26.9, 1:26.7, 1:27.1, 1:27.3, 1:27.6 minutes.

On the Mediums, to satisfy my inner OCD child.

Taking advantage of the fact that I had to refill my coffee, Hamilton snuck out of the garage and turned a few more laps, bringing his fast time down to 1:24.181 on the Mediums and knocking Team Clean (Sauber) out of P3 on the time sheets.

Ricciardo runs long this time, as Horner confirms that it’s just down to the ignition for Melbourne and the Renault is otherwise mostly in Melbourne spec. Happy with the driveability, but admits they are still not playing the same game as Mercedes. Looking at Ricciardo’s times from this morning though and if they can ever get the lad a proper engine, it’s possible we’d see one of the great all time seasons ensue.

Here’s the latest from the tally sheet:
Hulkenberg – 134
Raikkonen – 121
Sainz – 121
Ricciardo – 103
Grosjean – 103
Massa – 95
Ericsson – 93
Hamilton – 56
Magnussen – 39

Ericsson back out as he heads toward a hundred but the tinkering continues in the Mercedes garage as after that brief run not much has happened for Lewis.

Hamilton has Raikkonen for company,though, as the Ferrari too has been parked for a bit, in contrast to the Williams which has been fed a steady diet of laps and has joined most of the other teams in the 100 lap club.

In fact, as the final hour approaches only Mercedes and McHonda look dubious to hit that mark. As I type that, however, Lewis rolls back out of the pits, but with the softs on. My maths tell me that it’s an unlikely proposition to get there before the checkers fall.

Red Bull also are running a new rear wing with a new design that has some horizontal notches that allow a slot to swing down according to descriptions. Pictures are a tad murky, naturally enough.

And while I had a go at that Lewis has transported himself to the top of the time sheets with a 1:23.022.

In the meanwhile Williams have finished early, and Felipe is off to enjoy some tapas before heading off to Melbourne with his winter testing complete and finished early.

Here’s a good pic of that new Red Bull rear wind slot tweeted by Scarbs:

It runs up by the L in Total so I shall name it the L-slot till someone who understands it calls it something proper.

Not quite sure what it does, but being Red Bull, odds are in your favor if you guess that it flexes. ;-)

Lewis rejoins Ericsson, Hulkenberg, Junior and Ricciardo, still sporting the soft tyres. Hopefully we’ll see a few more glory runs for the Mercedes man to liven up the proceedings.

Colder track temps make it unlikely that Rosberg’s time from yesterday can be improved, so Nico’s fans will have the joy of taunting Lewis all the way to Melbourne.

On the other end of the time sheets, Junior’s hard work has moved Ricciardo to dead last in the hunt for glory, not much of a concern as RB will no doubt want to finish first, given last years debacle.

green And we’re stopped!

Pulled off to the side of the track at T3, the lifeless corpse of the C34 lies draped motionless on the hills of Catalunya, as the recovery vehicle begins its grim work on the lightly smoldering remains.

No word on the cause just yet, but there it does not appear to be an accident.

green Green Flag!

And they are back up and running with just 25 minutes left.

Grosjean is first out on the soft tyres, sitting on 110 laps and a best time of 1:25.183 putting him P6 currently. He is trailed out by Junior and Hulkenberg. Lewis joins them as well to top up his mileage a bit before the end of his session.

Both Toro Rosso and Lotus are running for time now, with Grosjean up to 4th and Junior up to 6th.

Magnussen reports that the McHonda feels “really nice” which will no doubt be comforting when it breaks down before finishing a race distance. Today’s run was just 2/3’s of a GP.

Junior has turned it up a bit more in the meantime and goes P4 with 131 laps on board for the day, surpassing Grosjean.

Hamilton has rolled back into the pits with 76 laps on the day and as we wind down our coverage, this just in:

Still Winter in NYC

Still Winter in NYC

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating on the podcast. ;-)

green And we’re stopped!

Booo! Junior has broken his car and stopped on the inside of T3, bringing the proceedings to a halt.

No reports yet but there is not a lot of time left on today’s clock so that might just be it.

Eric “the Believable” Boullier is telling us that tomorrow will be the McHonda’s first race sim. F1 comedians salivate at the thought.

The Toro Rosso is finally loaded with 4 minutes left. Waiting to see if they open the track back up.

green Green Flag!

And they do indeed, with just a minute left.

checkered There’s the table cloth!!

Miraculously both Ericsson and Hulkenberg made it out in the 57 seconds that were left. That brings and end to Day 3 of winter testing. We’ll see you here tomorrow for the final day of running before the season kicks off in Melbourne.

And we say thank you very much to the distant shores of Americaland :)

If you wonder why we have gone through four people already to do the commentry – it’s a damn sight harder than just parking your fat rear in a seat and get typing, so let me tell you that the positive feedback we’ve been getting has been greatly welcome.

With the final standings of today we bid thee farewell and see you bright eyed and bushy tailed on the morrow as we embark on the last day of pre-season testing…

DRIVER TEAM CHASSIS TIME DIFF. #
1. great Britain Hamilton Mercedes AMG W06 mercedes 1:23.022 76 soft
2. Brazil Massa Williams FW37 mercedes 1:23.262 +0.240 102 super soft
3. Finnland Räikkönen Ferrari SF15-T ferrari 1:23.276 +0.254 136 Soft
4. Spain Sainz jr Toro Rosso STR10 renault 1:24.191 +1.169 132 Super Soft
5. France Grosjean Lotus E23 mercedes 1:24.200 +1,178 116 Medium
6. Denmark Ericsson Sauber C34 ferrari 1:24.477 +1.455 123 Super Soft
7. Germany Hülkenberg Force India VJM07.5 mercedes 1:24.9391 +1.917 158 super Soft
8. Vikingland Magnussen McLaren MP4-30 honda 1:25.225 +2.203 39 Medium
9. Asutralia Ricciardo Red Bull Racing RB11 renault 1:25.742 +2.720 128 soft

Day 11 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Morning Report

•February 28, 2015 • 34 Comments

THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED EVERY FEW MINUTES

Circuit de Catalunya

Fratelli e Sorelle, Buongiorno! Worry not my friends, you won’t have to read Carlo’s version of 50 Shades of Gray as he lusts over the red godesses from Italy. Today’s coverage of the morning session is brought to you by the only one on the TJ13 staff, who generates his own gravity field – The Fat Hippo. The afternoon session will be covered by way of long-range commentary by our snarky friend from the distant shores of Americaland, Mr. Matt Trumpets, who appears to be trapped in his palace by something called ‘winter’.

Yesterday was dominated by two things. The Honda unit managed to put in 100 laps before giving up the ghost and the demoralizing demostration of power by Mercedes. The most worrying piece of news about the latter is that:

a) The engine is still the same they bolted in before Jerez

b) I have yet to see ANY picture of Rosberg actually using the DRS on that lap.

Even Toto-ench-Amun seems to become uncomfortable with being seen shooting fish in a barrel with a pumpgun…

In completely F1 unrelated news, Leonard Nimoy, better known as Mr. Spock has passed away. For a Star Trek afficionado like me, this is a very sad day indeed :(

Mario Andretti Back to racing matters we’d also like to remind you that American racing legend and 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti is celebrating his 75th birtday today.

After winning the title at the age of 38, he went back to America to race Indycars where he clinched the title at the ‘young’ age of 44, just seven years before his son Michael repeated the feat. Mario retired from Indycars after the 1994 season, aged 54. Nine years later, at the age of 63, he tested a car of his son Michael’s team at Indianapolis, but it didn’t quite go as planned…

green Green Flag!

It’s a chilly day still. The thermometer shows 3°C. I think I even saw a Swede wearing a shirt. That’s how chilly it is. But the sky is clear and the temperatures will soon start to become more palatable. The asphalt meanwhile is 15°C, which is more than some of the lunch-time temps in the first period, so I doubt we’ll miss out on any running.

And as we speak, already five drivers headed out – Räikkönen, Ericsson, Ricciardo, Massa and Grosjean.

Hamilton is weaving about on the start-finish straight at relatively catholic pace, which means the Mercedes is on a measuring run of some kind. The Brit does a few flying laps, but they are still way above the 90 seconds mark.

Massa heads out on soft tyres. His 1:27.271 is enought to demote Hamilton to second, but it is way off what those tyres are capable of. The world champion is driving around stable in the 1:31s and 132s on the medium tyres, so it stands to reason that he’s hauling a lot of fuel around.

K-Mag and his McLaren have not been out yet. Everyone else has done at least an installation lap so far.

Kimi Räikkönen starts his day on medium and a 1:27.840, just half a second slower than the Williams of Massa, who is equipped with soft tyres. Hamilton meanwhile continues to circle the track with coinsistent laps around the 90 second mark. He is demoted to fourth by Nico Hülkenberg, who is also on the softer compound, in fact, if I saw that right, he is on super softs, which would mean his 1:29.449 is a shockingly poor effort.

The Ferrari and the Merc still run the dodgy camera mountings that FIA’s Joe Bauer was everything but happy with, but according to Craig Scarborough, it’s not the weirdest we’ve seen yet…

Danny Ricciardo goes faster than Hülkenberg on hard tyres to the German’s super softs. That’s how ridiculously bad that Force India seems to be. Making a car with a Merc engine that slow is an achievement, just not one to be awfully proud of.

There have been different reactions to yesterday’s devastating lap of Nico Rosberg. Valteri Bottas was quite depressed, as was Red Bull’s Christian Horner. Former World Champion Vettel admitted the lap was “a hammer”, but says that although Ferrari might not come any close this year, Ferrari is on the right track to catch up.

It seems, normal service has resumed as in utter lack of any McLaren on the track. Woking still has a 0 to its name. Toro Rosso, who are normally always well placed in the race for the lap count, are suspiciously absent so far as well. They’ve done an installation lap, but that’s been it so far.

Kimi is orbiting the Montmelo circuit again and again at a steady pace around 88 seconds. That’s about a second faster than his team mate did. Vettel did most of his longruns on hard tyres though. Kimi is on mediums right now.

Lewis restores order with a 1.27,182 on mediums. That is still about 2 seconds off what we’ve seen on that compund in the past. It looks as if the temperatures aren’t yet to the liking of Pirelli’s products. Having said that, Lewis goes a second faster on the next lap. The new yardstick stands at 1.26,110.

There comes K-Mag. The McLarens have joined the action.

Meanwhile our friend Craig is a wee bit disappointed…

As the first hour nears its end, we are none the wiser. All we know is that Merc have been busiest so far with Lewis having completed 20 laps already. He’ll be keen to catch up on lost running over his team mate, who is about 800km up on the Brit’s track time. With Vettel having demonstrated last year what a thousand and more kilometers of treck time deficit can do, Lewis won’t be keen on finding out if it would affect him the same way.

Massa runs stable 1:27s on hard tyres! Word has it that several Ferrari mechanics have just ejected their espresso through the nose…

10am

Kimi has mercy on his poor mechanics and puts in a 1.26,314 on medium tyres. It looks as if the track is improving fast, which is not surprising. The air temperature has doubled over the last 60 minutes and the first Swedes are abandoning their shirts. A bit disapointingly they’re all men… The track is edging close to the 20°C mark.

The Force India is so ridiculously bad, it gives hope to Manor/Marussia. The team reveals that the VJM08 is basically just a cobbled together interim version. Basically still a VJM07 with a 2015 spec nose. The real VJM08 is expected to debut at the Chinese GP with the first aero-update expected for the race in Austria. Not good news for the Force India fanclub, which, as we are informed, is having a club meeting today in a telephone booth near Hyde Park.

Felipe Massa now goes almost eaxactly as fast on hard tyres as Kimi does on mediums. That’s not quite the news teams want to hear if they haven’t got a Daimler nailed to the back of their cars.

Meanwhile Lotus present a bit of eye candy. Too bad she isn’t Swedish…

dafuq Hülkenberg is on the track on mediums, but his times are still over 3 seconds off what the other teams do on the same compund today. This is certainly not what the German deserves. The last one I can remember, who always sat in the wrong car at the wrong time like that was Jean Alesi.

Danny RIC hits close to Lewis’ time on mediums. Looks like the Camo Bull is again the best hope for fans to see at least some variety. If he’ll be lucky enough to be handed some races by Merc reliability (or lack thereof) remains to be seen. The German team had only one major mechanical so far – the MGU-K failure two days ago and that was just the team testing if the part would last as long as it did on the dyno.

Well, Merc couldn’t tolerate any gods besides them, could they? Hamilton goes out and nonchalantly shaves nearly a second off his previous best to put those pesky Austrians in ther place. 1:25.471 on medium tyres. That’s a mammoth four second slower than the Force India. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a little game of one-upmanship going on. The timing was just too obvious.

Merc and RB have finished her ‘mine is bigger than yours’ game and Felipe Baby has the track all to himself.

With the weather looking to improve even more, we could see similar lap numbers as we did yesterday. On average the busiest runners do almost 20 laps per hour. Current leader in the race for the lap count is Nico Hülkenberg at 38. But considering the FI’s woeful pace, Lewis could probably sod off for an hour an still be quick enough to do more laps than the contraption from Silverstone.

K-Mag has gone out to improve on Macca’s woeful tally of 10 laps, but his 1:29.336 on medium tyres won’t instill the fear of god into anyone, but perhaps some of the less competitive GP2 teams.

4fbb30242c7b9 I kid thee not – Hülkenberg just did a 1:27 on mediums. What in the name of all that’s holy have they been doing in the first two hours? Granted, it’s still 2 seconds off the rest, but at least they now look like being within a shout of making the 107% cut at Melbourne.

Lewis and Nico Hülkenberg have by far been the busiest drivers so far. Both have lost out on quite some running in the past days and are looking to make up on that deficit.

The McLaren is now starting to look like a mildly acceptable F1 car too as K-Mag goes below the 88 second mark on medium tyres.

Hülkenberg straps on soft tyres, but his time is still a way off of what others do on mediums. He moves to P3, but Ricciardo and Hamilton ahead of him have done their times on the harder compound.

Not much action on the track other than Force India trying desperately to make up for lost time. 53 laps for Hülkenberg is quite the number, considering we’ve still got more than an hour to go in the morning session.

As action is a bit sparse at the moment, we look at another piece of news. I wasn’t aware of it until yesterday, but it appears the disintegrating Caterham team still has some employees. Well, now they have one less, as Mike Gascoigne has taken his hat and walked out to ‘concentrate on new challenges in racing, the automobile sector and sailing‘. Sir Adrian doth summon his troops, methinks.

12pm

The bell tolls for the last hour of this morning’s session and that means only 60 more minutes before the famined Hippo can stampede down and relieve the nearest buffet of its riches.

Felipe Baby has attacked the top spot and posted a 1:24.950 on mediums. That puts the Williams on the business end of the leaderboard. It remains to be seen how long Mercedes will tolerate to be eclipsed by one of their own customers.

Air temperature is up to 11°C. I’m keeping an eye on the Swedish ladies, but no luck so far. The track is up to 28°C, or as the Swedes call it – f***ing hell. It appears I’m not the only one hoping for some more Swedish shirt abandoning – all drivers are currently in the pits. Oh the suspense…

Max, meanwhile, tries his hand at being pretty, but I’m afraid for all his talent on the track, he’ll lose that one to the Lotus chick…

Some mild action resumes as Massa, Ricciardo and K-Mag head out again.

Kimi bolts on the soft tyres, but ends up one beer short of a six pack. His time is one and a half tenth slower than Massa’s time of 1:23.9 on the same compund. But just as we speak, the Brazilian whacks out a 1:23.262 on super softs. That’s still a mindboggling half a second slower than Rosberg’s lap on soft tyres and the German didn’t even use DRS. F1 is truly and utterly ****ed by the look of it.

It looks like Ferrari wants to know what’s what. Kimi follows Massa’s lead and goes out on supersofts – the first time for the Scuderia this year. The time is a 1:23.262, fourteen thousands of a second slower. We might have a race for 3rd in the WCC this year.

Force India meanwhile continue to pound around the track mercilessly (and relatively slowly). Hülkenberg has already completed 66 laps. That’s more than we’ve seen on most days.

Little detail on the side – Räikkönen’s lap was done with an updated front wing and updated, now legal, camera mountings.

Ba-Dum-Tssss! There’s a McLaren at the business end of the table! K-Mag posts a 1:25.225 on soft tyres and jumps to third. It’s good we are not in the year of 1688 anymore. Some McLaren mechanics would have been burned at the stake for witchcraft considering the team’s turnaround over the last two days.

Merc is packing up for this session and the Hippo gets very nervous. Those pesky Merc folk might clean out the buffet before I can join in…

No sh*t, Sherlock – Hülkenberg posts a 1:24.939 on supersofts. Nevermind that their engine supplier does that on mediums… But they beat McLaren. It’s like watching a kickboard race for one-legged men.

The Hulk is kicked down the order by Ericsson. Remember, that’s the same car that last year lost to Marussia. While the minnows are going for not-so-much-glory runs, Danny RIC in the Camo Bull toils around the circuit, utterly invisible. That paintjob does serve its purpose quite well.

FI have amassed a hefty 71 laps already and Hulk is still at it. That VJM7.5 might be slow enough to be overtaken by wildlife, but it certainly runs quite reliably. The indestructability of that Merc unit is scary.

checkered There’s the table cloth!!

There goes the morning session, I’ll leave you with a poor man’s version of the leaderboard while I go down to ransack the nearest eatery. I’ll prettify that one later on, promised. We’ll see you folks back in about an hour.

1. Massa Williams 1:23.262m
2. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.276m
3. Ericsson Sauber 1:24.477m
4. Hülkenberg Force India 1:24.939m
5. Magnussen McLaren 1:25.225m
6. Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.471m
7. Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.742m
8. Sainz Toro Rosso 1:26.330m
9. Grosjean Lotus 1:27.950m

 
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