Voice of the #F1 Fans: 2 logical explanations for Nico’s “electrical failure”

•October 1, 2014 • 19 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Tourdog


Editors Note: In the absence of a clear explanation from Mercedes – F1 fans are all but happy enough to provide possible scenarios for Rosberg’s Singapore dilemma. This article was written prior to Iain:R8’s and adds additional points to consider.

Tourdog was born on the Wrong Side of the Atlantic, as he puts it, and is saddled with the strain of having to watch F1 from the perspective of an ‘Murican. His real experience lies in Audio and Tour Management, though he had an early career in computer system installation.


Never did I believe that my life experience would have any relevance to an F1 conspiracy, but here we are.

I am an end user, of what the lay term for, is a “multi pin connector”. The title is pretty self explanatory, but I shall elaborate for the uninformed. A mutli-pin connector is a quick, efficient, and relatively reliable way, to connect a large number of wires together, and take them apart. These connectors are built in a wide range of sizes, materials, and pin numbers, with each pin representing one wire in the system. I have personally assembled wiring systems not dissimilar to the ones used in racing, that had single multi pin connectors, with in excess of 150 pins, so I can speak with some authority.

ALL road cars use hundreds, if not thousands of these connectors, though most of them are a handful of pins. MOST race cars use them to make building and repair easier, though they are much stronger than the ones in the road cars, in fact a lot of the early connectors used in racing were taken right out of WWII aircraft. F1 cars use very few multi-pins now. Almost all wiring runs direct from origin to destination, through as few connectors as possible, to reduce weight. They try and limit these connections to what is necessary to quickly remove major parts, such as the steering wheel.

The steering column itself holds a “multi-Pin connector” within its hollow center, there is no coilly cable anymore like we used to see when there were only two or three buttons on the steering wheels. Since the wheel must be removed and replaced on a regular basis, the wiring has been buried within the steering column itself. One can see this from the following picture:

Mercedes AMG Steering Wheel

Unfortunately there is a line in this picture that is obscuring our view, but there appears to be about 10 pins that connect the steering wheel to the car electrically, right in the centre of the connection to the steering column. If one looks closely, they will see that the pins recessed into those 10 little holes are “male” pins. Further inspection reveals that there is an inner collar on the column connection. As the wheel is pressed onto the column, the inner collar on the steering wheel if forced backwards into the wheel by the column. This will expose the pins, allowing them to mated to the car side of the connection. The spring loaded collar is designed to protect the pins on the back of the steering wheel, so they are not damaged when the wheel is not on the car.

The “female” pins are incased in a synthetic block that resides in the canter of the steering column. There is most likely no cover for these pins, unless the teams have made a small cap that is placed over the shaft manually.

  • So lets look at Mercedes statements, the key parts are highlighted:
    Forensic analysis has revealed that the steering column electronic circuits were contaminated with a foreign substance.
  • This occurred during our normal pre-event servicing procedures at the factory and the substance found is used as part of our standard servicing procedure.
  • The relevant design has been in use since 2008 (6 seasons) without experiencing any fault.
  • The contamination was not visible and did not manifest itself until Sunday as Nico went to the grid, although the steering column was used throughout the weekend and the car fired up as normal on Sunday morning.
  • The result was an intermittent short circuit in these circuits.
  • As a consequence Nico could not command the clutch nor change engine settings.
  • The car was ultimately retired because it was unsafe to execute a pit stop without command of the clutch.
  • Fresh parts will be used at the forthcoming races.
  • The team has been working intensively on reliability and quality processes during 2013 and 2014 in order to improve our performance in this area and these efforts will continue at the same intensive level over the coming month

The typical way to clean one of these connectors is with a quickly evaporating aerosol spray. We call it “contact cleaner”, as do you, and it can be found in any hardware or electronics store. In extreme cases however, such as an environment with exceptionally high humidity, the metal pins themselves could become corroded in a very short amount of time, as quickly as a few hours. The liquid cleaner may not have enough cutting power on its own to remove a large amount of corrosion. Keeping the pins covered, by having the wheel attached overnight, would help reduce this corrosion, as it would limit the pins exposure to the air. But in the event the wheel was left off, or even as a precautionary measure due to the humidity in Singapore, a small metal-bristled brush might be used to help clear any corrosion on the pins.

This is what could have caused the failure. If even 1 small bristle of bare wire were to break off of the brush, and lodge itself into the multi-pin connector, it could cause the failure Merc experienced. This would have been extremely difficult to see. It would also explain why the problem appeared intermittent. Depending on the length of the wire, and the layout of the pins, it could have been shorting any one, or multiple pins to each other, and/or to ground. As the wheel spun, the piece of wire could have been moving within the housing, changing the pins it touches. It could have been lodged in there since initial set-up at the factory, as they stated, though it is more likely to have been an overambitious engineer that decide to clean it, “just in case” in the garage. Simply attaching and removing the wheel could have been enough to dislodge this rogue piece of wire.

I have no doubts that this situation is entirely possible. It has happened to me. I wasn’t working on an F1 car, but I have had electrical shorts happen in this manner. Of course, there is another, equally likely situation.

Software Error.

At another point in my life, I was doing what was essentially help centre computer work, for a
completely unique, one-off software system that was responsible for getting emergency vehicles to
accident locations in a large city. Getting someone’s computer back up and running quickly, over the phone, is all about knowing what questions to ask, and the first question is always, what just changed?
This sounds overly simple, but it regularly leads to the following response:
I just….
Somehow even the most intelligent people think the word “just”, absolves them of responsibility. It
always means they touched something.

What tipped me off to this was Nico’s statements about the situation, they are classic defensive moves. He was very matter of fact about what he had done. He described the situation very methodically. He was in the garage. The engineers had the car up on jacks. It was running. They had been testing it and everything was fine. “The moment” he got in the car, it all went wrong. That’s the part I find hard to believe, the coincidence of timing. My first question to him would have been, “what did you touch?” I can practically hear the first words he spoke in my head, “I didn’t do anything, I just…..

The computers and software in the car, are still very much “beta” in computer terms. Since some parts are bespoke and some of the computer modules are “standardised” parts supplied by McLaren, the hardware and the software simply cannot be tested for every possible contingency. There just isn’t enough time, and the software is updated too often. So it is entirely possible that Nico got into the car, and made a change to a setting on the wheel either he shouldn’t have, or that had not been tested correctly before. At that point the software went “haywire”. This is not a problem that only Mercedes faces, and I am sure all teams have had failures due to software at some point or another.

Why didn’t it go bad for Lewis too? Well assuming the software in both cars is identical; it could simply be a matter that Lewis didn’t make the exact same change at the same time, and he was in a different mode at the moment.

It is far better, and easier, for Merc to explain to the world that there was a “foreign substance” in the wiring, than it is to announce that they have software issues.
It was either a genuine, unforeseen electrical short, or a software error, that may have been initiated by Nico. Of course, Mercedes tagging all of their tweets with this..

#NotAConspiracy :)

..is probably not going to help cull the speculation.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 1st October 2014

•October 1, 2014 • 56 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.

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Previously on The Judge 13:

Voice of the #F1 Fans: Mercedes Conspiracy – Part xx?

#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 – Japan, Suzuka, Suzuka International Race Circuit – Round 15


OTD Lite: 2006 – Schumacher’s final victory closes a legacy

Will the change in regulation increase Merc’s advantage?

‘Faster’ cars would make F1 ‘harder’ – Coulthard

Honda PU’s big reveal

Toto not completely certain over 2015 driver lineup (GMM)

Simona de Silvestro’s F1 hopes dashed

Caterham’s doors closed in Leafield (UPDATE) 22:05 GMT)

Williams preview the Japanese Grand Prix


OTD Lite: 2006 – Schumacher’s final victory closes a legacy

Of all the circuits that Formula One visited, the Chinese venue had presented Michael Schumacher with his leanest pickings to date. In 2006, Michael’s arrival in the Far East followed the announcement at Monza that he was to retire from the sport at the end of the campaign and mixed conditions in qualifying relegated the German to sixth on the grid.

The race was a slow-burner with the Renaults scampering away in the lead and Schumi holding on gallantly but as the track dried the Ferrari gained pace and a tyre change for Alonso crucified the Spaniard’s race as he couldn’t get heat into his fresh rubber.

As he took the flag for the 91st time in his career, the signs were that the last two races of the season may contribute to another Schumacher title. However, a blown engine in Japan scuppered this ambition.

This was followed by an incredible recovery in Brazil from almost a lap down to fourth by the chequered flag, which proved to many that Schumacher was calling it a day far too soon.

As a special advisor to Ferrari for the following seasons – it would have been interesting to know if he regretted his decision as it was likely he would have won the 2007 title far easier than his replacement and the 2008 season would most also have likely culminated in another championship to add to the German’s record.

Unfortunately, now we will never know..

The Jackal

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Will the change in regulation increase Merc’s advantage?

The FIA have announced a change in the nose regulations which will impact most teams next year. From 2015, no longer will F1 cars be adorned with the aesthetically challenged noses that have dominated this year.

All cars will carry the solution that Mercedes and Ferrari have run this year rather than the ponderous appendage and the results of early tests from their rivals has shown up some surprising data with negative results in terms of their efficiency compared to their current solutions.

Red Bull’s chief designer, Rob Marshall, explained: “We were surprised by how much w have lost in this area” This was echoed by the Technical Director of Force India, Andy Green who explained: “The first wind tunnel test we conducted showed a loss of 20 downforce points in comparison to our current nose. Mercedes and Ferrari have a big advantage because these shorter noses require a lot of expensive crash testing. The whole concept is a complete change for the aerodynamic direction and we are working hard to understand the subject.”

Which would seem to suggest that both Mercedes and Ferrari have been losing fundamental performance with their designs. Whilst this may be encouraging for Ferrari recovering some of their loss to the others – it is perhaps more worrisome that Mercedes could be even further ahead.

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

‘Faster’ cars would make F1 ‘harder’ – Coulthard

The best way to make F1 cars harder to drive is to make them faster. That is the view of retired grand prix veteran David Coulthard, following reports the sport’s governing FIA is concerned the challenge of driving an F1 car today is ‘too easy’.

That view has intensified recently as the age of F1 rookies, for instance the newly seventeen year old Max Verstappen who will drive on Friday at Suzuka, plummets dramatically.

“The FIA … is said to be examining ways of making F1 cars harder to drive,” correspondent Kevin Eason wrote in The Times. As drivers have become younger and leaner, F1’s leaders are worried that the sport is no longer the highest examination of driver talent, skill and strength,” he added. It is part of why the FIA has suddenly clamped down on so-called ‘driver coaching’ over the pit-to-car radios, to end the appearance that the cars are even being piloted by remote control by engineers and boffins.

But Coulthard, whose own F1 career began just as the great Ayrton Senna’s so tragically ended, thinks the FIA is wide of the mark to think radios are to blame for the sport’s problems. “It (the clampdown) seems to be the answer to a question that no one was asking,” he said in a column for the F1 sponsor UBS.

“I wasn’t really aware of any grumbling,” said the 43-year-old Scot, who today is a pundit for British television. “In my opinion, if you want to make the cars harder to drive, make them faster. It is ironic that they are trying to find ways of making life more difficult for the drivers when the actual cars are slower than they were back in 2004,” added Coulthard.

The former McLaren and Red Bull driver even thinks the radio clampdown is counterproductive, as it removes one of F1’s “technological advancements” only to replace it with “another layer of bureaucracy and red tape”.

“If someone offered you the chance to get rid of internet banking and go back to just making all your transactions the old-fashioned way, via a cashier, would you accept? Of course you wouldn’t,” said Coulthard.

“It would be a retrograde step; wilfully ignoring technology that already exists and that everyone was perfectly happy with anyway. As for the drivers I spoke to in Singapore last weekend, some were for it, some were against it, some were not fussed either way. I think that just about sums this whole issue up. It’s all a bit of a nothing,” he added.

TJ13 comment: Ultimately there are many people who have watched F1 dumbing down year on year and whilst the racing can be exciting at times, with the introductions of DRS and fall apart tyres there’s a feeling amongst the hardcore followers that F1 has begun chasing the fickle entertainment crowd,

As DC mentioned but didn’t elaborate upon, many of the current lap records were set back in 2004  and the drive to keep F1 speeds in check has led us to the current cars. As the great Villeneuve once suggested, big tyres, less aero and huge over powered cars… now that would be a spectacle considering we enjoy the powerslides we get currently for three or four metres!

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Honda PU’s big reveal

It is hardly surprising that before the mayhem of track walks and FIA press conferences begin in Japan tomorrow, Honda has chosen today to give a ‘reveal’ of its power unit designed for the 2015 McLaren F1 car.

Of course, this will not be an exact replica of the architecture used by Honda, because there would still be time for rival engine manufacturers to ‘steal’ design ideas.

The man in charge of Honda’s Formula 1 project, Yasuhisa Arai, had this to say.

“Working toward Honda’s F1 participation starting in the 2015 season, development of the power unit is entering its prime phase at our R&D facility in Sakura (Tochigi, Japan), where we transferred our automobile motor sports development earlier this year.

In addition to conducting simulations, we have moved onto the next stage where we conduct full-fledged bench tests of the engine while connecting the turbocharger and energy recovery systems.

In the meantime, our racing operation base in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, has become fully operational.

At this time, we are unveiling an image of our power unit that is under development.

The whole team is concentrating on this development, getting ready for the forthcoming start of F1 participation in six months.”

untitled

In time TJ13’s tech experts will bring us a more detailed analysis of what we are looking at, however, despite the consistent rumours that Honda are months behind schedule, Arai appears comfortable in explaining where Honda are up to in terms of their testing schedule.

Initial reaction suggests Honda have utilised a similar concept to Mercedes by placing the Turbo at the rear of the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and the compressor at the front. The MGU-H then sits between the V.

Somers however suggests Honda may have adopted a half way house approach with the compressor within the V and set higher than the Mercedes. This gives the advantage of having a shorter drive shaft which should be stronger and more reliable.

Yet the secret of Honda’s strength will not be their power unit alone, it will be the sympathetic nature of both chassis and PU to the requirements of each other. After all 8 cars are running the dominant Mercedes PU this year – but only 2 are running away with proceedings.

“There is obviously a lot of work behind the scenes with our new partner for next year,” Eric Boullier commented in Singapore. “We have not exactly defined when and where we will test first, to be clear about some discussions and rumours.  There is a lot of work going through and, to be honest, as per the original schedule, everything is fine so far.”

The issue of whether Honda McLaren would test in Abu Dhabi following the season’s final race showdown, was due to contractual arrangements with Mercedes. Brixton have now relinquished their control and granated the new F1 engine/team partnership the opportunity to test the Honda power unit at Yas Marina Circuit should they choose to do so.

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Toto not completely certain over 2015 driver lineup

Team boss Toto Wolff is not 100 per cent sure Mercedes will head into the 2015 season with an unchanged driver lineup.

With Nico Rosberg already under contract into the longer term, his teammate Lewis Hamilton is among those drivers speculatively linked with a sensational switch to the new Honda era at McLaren beginning next year.

Recently, a slight disagreement between Briton Hamilton and Mercedes became apparent after Wolff indicated talks for a new contract beyond 2015 had been “frozen”.

“Well, I haven’t said that I was freezing anything,” the 2008 world champion said last month.

It is rumoured Hamilton might be tempted to leave Mercedes if his teammate Rosberg, with whom relations are already intensely strained, wins the 2014 title.

Wolff has also warned that if the pair cannot find a way to work together effectively, Mercedes might need to rethink its 2015 lineup.

It is a theme Austrian Wolff appears to have returned to in the days before the Japanese grand prix.

He told Germany’s Sport Bild that the Brackley based team’s driver lineup for 2015 is only “99 per cent” guaranteed at this stage.

“You have to hold something back because exceptional circumstances can always arise.  In life, nothing is ever 100 per cent for sure,” said Wolff.

He insisted yet again that contractual talks with Hamilton have indeed been frozen for the time being.

“On both sides we had the desire and decided to postpone the issue, because the championship is so intense,” Wolff said.

“Rather than be discussing commercial issues, we want to get to the end of the season.  And then the first thing we will do is sit down with Lewis and hopefully everything will be in the bag for the years after 2015,” he added.

Comment: TJ13 has continually asserted the continual verbal flow of consciousness coming from Toto Wolff is most revealing – however, it is indeed the sign of a rookie F1 team boss who never knows when to be quiet.

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Simona de Silvestro’s F1 hopes dashed

Simona de Silvestro has left the Sauber team, according to Speedweek. She was allegedly due to drive FP1 at the US Grand Prix weekend in Austin,

“Simona’s driving programme will not continue for financial reasons,” revealed a faceless spokesperson for the Swiss F1 team. Everyone who has worked with Simona over the past six months is very disappointed. We are currently examining other possibilities.”

It appears Sauber have failed to deliver on their promises and the testing Simona ran at Fiorano was eventually paid for by her management and not the Swiss team. At this event, the 2012 Sauber was not liveried as usual, but simply displayed “Clean Air Energy” and the logos of U.S. power plant owner Entergy and the nuclear power plant builder Areva.

Having failed to land a deal with Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, Sauber are in dire financial straits. At present they are likely to receive over $10m less in FOM funding than they had this year, to compete in the 2015 season.

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Caterham’s doors closed in Leafield

TJ13 was informed this afternoon that Bailiffs and the Police were called to the Leafield site, the home of Caterham F1. The staff were instructed to turn off the servers and leave the premises immediately.

This follows previous visits both last week and this from the Bailiffs, who were seeking on Monday to arrange for the removal of the autoclave. Old Lotus framed shirts were removed from the premises today.

John Iley informed sceptical staff to return as normal tomorrow, when the problems would be ‘ironed out’.

TJ13 reported an emergency meeting of the staff of Caterham was held on Monday, where it was repeated again that the problems the team were facing were due to ‘surprises’ (unpaid bills) left behind by the previous owner Tony Fernandes.

Apparently the Caterham team owe an 8 digit sum to a range of suppliers, mainly Renault and Red Bull for engine and gear box supply.

The 2013 cars were removed from the facility on Monday, though the mainstream media were informed this was to facilitate an F1 demonstration in Jerusalem. One concerned member of staff questioned whether this was in fact true, as show events require the attendance of just one car.

The race team were reportedly fed by other teams during the Singapore GP weekend, though no clear explanation for this has emerged.

Of course, were the Caterham outfit to fold, and a new team lined up to enter Formula One in the future – say offer, 10 pence in the pound for the assets of the company, this would be a most cost effective manner of acquiring the necessary equipment and even Intellectual Property for the 2015 car, to eventually go racing.

The mysterious nature of the new ‘Swiss based Arab’ investors has led those with questioning minds to believe not all was well with the alleged sale of the business by Fernandes before Silverstone.

Caterham Team Principal Manfredi Ravetto asserted at the Singapore GP that the new investors wished to remain anonymous because they had no interest in publicity, just ‘making a profit’. Formula One teams on the brink of collapse and due no monies for next year from FOM – do not fit this profile.

It has been suggested to TJ13 that in fact the formal transfer of the shares in the company which holds the racing license for Caterham F1 was never completed, due to disagreements over whether the debts of the team should be paid up by Fernandes or the new owners.

Should the team be wound up, it is convenient that there is no one publicly to hold to account. Fernandes claims to have sold the business but to whom we do not know.

Meantime, Kolles has been forcing ahead the development of the 2015 car, such that the tub has been designed and is good to go.

UPDATE

Caterham issued the following statement this evening

“There have been unfounded and unsubstantiated rumours concerning actions against 1MRT, the entrant and owner of CaterhamF1.

An action was threatened yesterday against a supplier company to 1MRT. This company is not owned by 1MRT and it has no influence over the entry of CaterhamF1 or the entrant.

Also contrary to uncontrolled rumours, all operations are currently in place at Leafield and the race team is doing its preparation in Japan.”

What Caterham say is technically true and they pulled this same stunt over the staff redundancy claims. The company which holds the racing license is a shell company, and is used for nothing else other than to hold the F1 entrant documents. There were other companies in the Caterham group structure under Fernandes where the factory assets sat along with the liabilities left by Fernandes.

This all adds to the confusion over which company(ies) was/were actually sold by Fernandes, and whether or not that sale of all the Caterham assets and liabilities were completely transferred.

Further, tonight a Croydon based company who are “High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO’s) have tonight placed the following information on their website.

“By order of The Sheriffs Office, authorised High Court Enforcement Officers, we hereby announce the impending sale of goods seized and removed from a Formula One team.

The goods include but are not limited to:

  • Caterham F1 test car (2013)
  • Caterham F1 car parts (due for Japan 2014)
  • Full size 6 DOF motion platform F1 simulator
  • Caterham F1 steering wheels
  • F1 wheels with tyres
  • High quality drilling & machining equipment
  • Caterham & Lotus F1 memorabilia
  • Various pit lane equipment including jacks, pumps and starters
  • TVs, monitors and other goods and equipment

We can confirm the goods have been removed from the Leafield enforcement address and are in secure storage.

The goods are to be sold by public auction to the highest bidder.

Sale by private treaty may be permissible with leave of the court.

The date and location of the sale are yet to be confirmed but early indications are mid-October at a UK location. Interested parties should contactauctions@thesheriffsoffice.com to register their interest”.

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Williams preview the Japanese Grand Prix

FRIDAY 3 – SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER

SUZUKA, JAPAN

RACE 15 OF 19

The drivers love the high speed challenge of Suzuka Circuit. It’s fast and narrow, and it punishes mistakes because there is very little run-off. There are few better places to watch a grand prix car on the limit than through the Esses at the beginning of the lap. The high-speed changes of direction are stunning to watch, but that’s not all. The undulating rollercoaster of a lap includes Degner 1&2, Spoon and 130R – all memorable and challenging corners.

The Japanese fans leave an indelible impression too. Rain or shine, they fill the grandstands and cheer politely, often giving the drivers and teams gifts. All this adds together to make the Japanese Grand Prix one of the most memorable of the season.

According to Rob Smedley “Japan is one of the last remaining old school tracks. It is incredibly important to get the cars set-up right and very difficult for the drivers to get the perfect lap. The track is one which tests all aspects of the car and so is very tough to get right.” He continues with some key points for the weekend, “Tyre management is key, so we hope we have done all of our homework and getting on top of track conditions throughout the weekend will directly affect qualifying and the race. I personally enjoy Japan, the fans are immensely enthusiastic about the sport and incredibly welcoming of the teams.”

Felipe Massa also has kind words for this iconic circuit “Japan is one of the best circuits on the calendar.” He goes on to explain why drivers enjoy this track so much “The first sector is amazing and the elevation changes really add to the excitement of the track.” As for his feelings about the team he says “We have good momentum at the moment and our car will hopefully be better than in Singapore. The Japanese fans are some of the most passionate fans. On a Thursday in the rain the stands are still full. I also love Japan and look forward to seeing more of the country.

Valtteri Bottas says that “Suzuka is my favourite circuit on the calendar. The high speed corners make it a very special track to drive and a lot of fun.” He to makes mention of the enjoyment the drivers get from this great track by adding “For a driver it’s quite a challenge with no room for a mistake, but it’s fast which just makes it even better to drive. You need good downforce and stability which could bring the field closer together. One thing all drivers say about Japan is just how amazing the fans are, and I am looking forward to seeing them again and hope they enjoy the race.”

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Voice of the #F1 Fans: Mercedes Conspiracy – Part xx?

•October 1, 2014 • 34 Comments

Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Iain: R8

So officially, it’s a ‘substance’ that’s used in normal maintenance. Hmm!

sne15731_copyedit.jpg__666x374_q85_crop-smart_mask-0 3px 0 3px_upscale

The Mercedes steering wheel uses the PCU-8D display module from McLaren Electronics, supplied without connectors. This is a sealed unit, and according to the spec sheet “splash resistant to standard motorsport fluids”.

Thumbnail-PCU-8DAccording to first reports from Toto, the problem was a broken wiring loom. Now the team’s position has changed to it being “a normal servicing substance” which caused a short circuit in the “steering column electronics“. What electronics? There is possibly a position sensor on the column, but what else? The steering wheel controls – and display electronics – connect to both the ECU and the Mercedes local control units for ERS, diff, engine controller etc. Yet the steering wheel was substituted and the problem remained.

connectorSo surely, they must be talking about a physical connections between the wheel and the wiring in the column. I would be very surprised if they were using an optical fiber system for the CAN bus, which would require ‘receive’ electronics. So an obvious conclusion to the first Mercedes statement, would be a physical connector malfunction or a broken wire in the connector. However, they now insist that it was a foreign substance to blame.

 

cutaway1These photos come courtesy of SPA design and give an idea of how the quick release steering wheel might attach to the column. I would guess that a multi pin connector, like the silver Lemo shown, might be used. What maintenance would you do to that connector?

The recommended product is Isopropyl Alcohol. This evaporates, so it can be be excluded as a cause because it would be very obvious if it was not ‘Iso Al’ that was being used. The wiring would be another potential candidate for failure, if the original claims by Mercedes were true.

But, the only way that a substance could damage the plastic covered wiring is – if it was an acid. Maybe they were using Kapton wiring to save weight. However, using Kapton or Mylar covered wire to save weight, would be extreme, even for F1. Kapton degrades under thermal and mechanical stress, and it is hygroscopic (absorbs fluids).

Now is when we can start making educated guesses. Broken wiring in a connector initially seems the best answer. If it really were a mystery substance problem which caused a short circuit – it would have to be have been conductive.

If it were an open circuit problem, then you could imagine somebody picking up a can of spray lube, by mistake. Surely, they would have noticed immediately. However, that would be obvious the moment the car was started, because the steering wheel is connected when they fire up the engine, and the dash display should show a fault condition.

So what did they do between practice and the start of the race? Why were they doing anything to the connector? I have noticed that the steering wheels are left with the connector uncovered during the race weekend, so this might be a reason to clean the connector pins before practice, qualifying and the race. A better way would be to keep them clean at all times.

It puzzles me that someone introduced a conductive fluid and never noticed. As an engineer, it is just inexplicable at this level. Maybe the Mercedes explanation is just a cover story for bad design. Though the sabotage idea can’t be excluded.

Considering Paddy Lowe’s recent assertions of discovering faults within the Mercedes technical infrastructure at Brackley – it is of particular interest that according to Wiki, Lowe was joint head of electronics at Williams. So shame on him for not spotting this potential issue.

#F1 Circuit Profile: 2014 – Japan, Suzuka, Suzuka International Race Circuit – Round 15

•September 30, 2014 • 2 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 ‘Track Profile Specialist’ Alistair Hunter

This week we go from one of Asia’s most spectacular F1 circuits to the oldest one on the calendar this year in the region – Suzuka, home of the Japanese Grand Prix for what will be the 24th edition of the Formula One World Championship race there.

suzuka japan

The circuit has a history of hosting championship deciders, but this year is likely to be different. Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg could both easily come away from here with the championship lead, after only being split in the championship by three points.

History

The Suzuka Circuit was designed for Honda to test their cars and motorcycles to the limit in 1961, with the original plan being a circuit based around several long straights, with a curved section based around a lake. However, the lay of the land meant that the design was altered to ensure that as little of the rice fields would have to be dug up as possible, including a staggering three crossover sections.

Needless to say more alterations to the design were undertaken, and by the time the circuit was completed in January 1962 it resembled almost the exact circuit layout that is raced on by Formula One cars today. The first Japanese Grand Prix was held there the next year – for sportscars – and was won by Peter Warr in his Lotus.

Following that, the race moved to Fuji Speedway – owned by the rival Toyota company – which held the first Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in 1976, where it remained for another year before Honda spent lots of money to get the race back many years later in 1987.

Since then, the race has stayed on the calendar ever since, meaning that the race this year will be the 30th edition of the race, as well as the 32n race in Japan. The latter includes the two Pacific Grands Prix, which briefly made the country one of seven to have hosted two races in one season.

Circuit Characteristics

Suzuka Circuit Characteristics

Firstly, the lap starts by going through a long, fast-flowing high speed twisty section, before the tricky Degner curve before going under the bridge and ending the first sector. A major braking zone follows into the Turn 11 hairpin, which serves as one of the major overtaking spots on the circuit.

Following on from there, the track continues up to the Spoon corner, before the end of the second sector comes as the drivers speed down the secondary pit straight at the crossover point, and brake for the chicane at the end of the mighty 130R left hand corner.

Continuing out of the chicane, the drivers go on to the start/finish straight and the single DRS zone – making the Suzuka circuit one of only two on the calendar this year to only have one. The drivers reach top speeds of up to 320 km/h, while the lap record is held by Kimi Raikkonen at a 1:31.540.

Due to the high speed nature of the track, drivers are on full throttle for 71% of the lap, in comparison to spending 10% of the lap under braking; although the brakes are not seriously tested until they hit the entry to the final chicane, as mentioned below by one of the brake suppliers to Formula One teams, Brembo. Additionally, an estimated 48 gear changes are required per lap, while this is one of the many tracks on the calendar that favours a heavy downforce setup.

Form Guide

Only three people have won races this season, and if that continues it will be the first time since 1988 that this has happened. Barring any miracles, it should either be Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg or Daniel Ricciardo to be victorious this weekend, although the only people on the grid to have won this race multiple times are Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel (the latter winning four of the last five Japanese Grands Prix).

None of the leading trio have won here, with Lewis Hamilton’s Japanese victory coming at Fuji Speedway. Red Bull have obviously won here on four occasions previously, but Mercedes have never done so. The most successful team is McLaren.

Pirelli and Suzuka International Race Circuit

Pirelli PZero OrangeFormula One’s late-season long-haul run of events now takes the teams to the epic Suzuka circuit in Japan, where the two hardest tyres in the range will be in action: the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium, the same combination as was last seen in Monza.

While the two circuits are very different in character, Suzuka does have some elements in common with Spa: another well-known driver’s circuit with flowing corners but even higher lateral energy demands. As a result, the nomination for Suzuka is one step harder than Spa: hard and medium rather than medium and soft.

This does not make life easier for the tyres however, as there is a non-stop series of demands to cope with. Coupled with a track surface that is relatively abrasive, this means that wear and degradation is high. Initial forecasts suggest cool weather, which is not unusual for Japan at this time of year. Heavy rain showers have been a feature of Suzuka in the past, making a wet race a distinct possibility.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Japan is one of the highlights of the year, not just for ourselves but for the whole of Formula One.

The fans are absolutely brilliant, with huge enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport, which is almost unparalleled anywhere in the world. Suzuka is a real drivers’ circuit, and because of that it is a considerable challenge for the tyres, with some of the biggest lateral energy loads of the year.

As a result, it would probably be realistic to look at between two to three pit stops, with tyre management forming a key part of the race. However, we’ll obviously know more about that after free practice. It’s a track where several forces are often acting on the tyre at once, and the increased torque but decreased downforce of this year’s cars will only place more demands on mechanical grip.

If a tyre can perform well in Suzuka, it can perform well almost everywhere.”

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi, Pirelli consultant: “Suzuka is just an amazing track from a driver’s perspective. It’s very technical, with each bit of the circuit very different from the others.

I would say that 130R is one of the most demanding corners of the entire year, which requires the right set-up and a car that is absolutely planted to the ground. The esses are also extremely demanding: if you make just one mistake here that will disrupt the whole sequence and you lose a lot of time.

We’ve raced many times at Suzuka in the rain: in those situations, visibility is extremely low. We also tend to see a lot of track evolution over the course of the weekend. So we start off with a surface that is very abrasive and ‘green’ but the driver has to pay a lot of attention to how the situation changes over the weekend and how in turn that affects the tyres.”

A lap with Pirelli

The circuit from a tyre point of view

Japan is characterised by high lateral energy loads, combined with some of the lowest longitudinal demands seen all year. Turn 15, known as 130R, is taken entirely flat at speeds in excess of 300kph. This puts a sustained load onto the tyres, subjecting them (and the driver) to massive g-forces. The front-left tyre is worked hardest at Suzuka.

Pirelli P Zero Medium WHITEThe medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The hard tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. Cool temperatures are expected for this year’s Japanese Grand Prix, with a threat of rain.

The asphalt in Suzuka is quite abrasive, but there is a high degree of track evolution. Getting the right set-up is essential, to be able to stick to the optimal racing line. There can be a risk of graining: especially during the early stages of the weekend when the track is at its most green.

The winning strategy last year was a two-stopper, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel stopping on laps 14 and 37. The German started on the medium and completed his final two stints on the hard tyre.

Brembo and Suzuka International Race Circuit

Brembo JapaneseGP 2014

* Turn 16 is considered the most demanding for the braking system.

As with all the very “driven” tracks, at Suzuka the long, fast turns also determine not-so-demanding braking. In fact, the single-seaters do not face any particularly sudden braking sections except for the 130R turn where they go from more than 300 kph to about 120 kph in less than 100 metres.

Memorable Moments

1976 – Back at the Fuji Speedway, the title decider between Niki Lauda and James Hunt saw Lauda pull out of the race in protest at the horrendous weather conditions they had to race in, while Hunt fought back from a bad pit stop to finish third, meaning that he clinched the championship over the German by one point.

Senna Suzuka 19891989 – Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost qualified on the front row of the grid, with Prost getting the upper hand into the first portion of the race. However, on lap 46, the two collided going into the final chicane, taking Prost out of the race and forcing Senna to use the escape road, complete another lap, and then pit to fix the car. Despite Senna retaking the lead, he was disqualified from the race for cutting the chicane, handing the race victory to Alessandro Nannini and the championship to Prost.

1994 – Due to rain at Suzuka, Michael Schumacher pulled away to get a 6.8 second lead before the race was stopped due to Gianni Morbidelli and Martin Brundle losing control of their cars at around the same time. As the rain slowed down, the race was restarted on the basis of aggregate collected time, where Damon Hill pushed hard to open up a 10.1 second gap over the rest of the field, therefore making him the winner by 3.3 seconds.

2000 – Michael Schumacher started from pole position but ended up behind Mika Hakkinen for the majority of the race, but a better pace in the rain and a fast in lap and pit stop from the German allowed him to finish on the top step of the podium and win his third drivers championship title (and the first for Ferrari since 1979).

2005 – Rain in the final part of qualifying saw many of the theoretically faster drivers at the back end of the grid, leading to an entertaining race. Ralf Schumacher led the race before his first pitstop, while Raikkonen and Alonso gained positions; the latter doing so controversially in the eyes of the stewards, and the Spaniard was forced to give a place back to Christian Klien. Fisichella led the race, but in the end he was overtaken by Raikkonen on the last lap, finishing his comeback from qualifying 17th to winning the race.

Support Races

Like last year, the support races for this year’s event are the Porsche Carrera Cup Japan and the Super FJ series. According to Google translate, this is the climax of the season, with Ryo Ogawa and Yamano Naoya tied for first place with 138 points. Since I know how unreliable translation services, I’ll stop now (I really hope that’s their actual names).

Super FJ is the fourth tier of the formula racing ladder in Japan, which means it also doesn’t have too much English language information about it. For reference though, it is three levels below Super Formula, where you will find former F1 superstars Andre Lotterer, Kazuki Nakajima, Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Absolutely nothing else I can add to that, embarrassingly.

Previous Results

Year Driver Constructor
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2012 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2011 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2010 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2009 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2008 Fernando Alonso Renault
2007 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2006 Fernando Alonso Renault
2005 Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes
2004 Michael Schumacher Ferrari

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 30th September 2014

•September 30, 2014 • 52 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.

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Previously on The Judge 13:

On This Day in #F1 : 30th September 2001 – Murray Walker


OTD Lite: 2007 – Toyota’s corporate blandness invades F1

Nico and Lewis become driving instructors

Mercedes dominate despite worst reliability

Alonso – out of the Italian frying pan into the Japanese fire

How to keep Fernando happy… as seen on Twitter

Silverstone Grand Prix Tickets, Finance now available

Lotus losing money again (UPDATED 16:45)

Remi Taffin’s insights into Suzuka’s demands on the PU

Nurburgring back in crisis


OTD Lite: 2007 – Toyota’s corporate blandness invades F1

As mentioned in the comments yesterday, on this day Sebastian Vettel ran into the back of Mark Webber as they followed close behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mclaren. Hamilton took a sensational victory in such poor conditions that the circuit paid back entrance fees to spectators that couldn’t even see the track from their stands.

And in the final laps Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa took leave of their respective senses, and played at being Villeneuve versus Arnoux at Dijon 1979. How they didn’t get penalised was beyond most observers.

But what I found fascinating was the behaviour of the organisers of the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji. The circuit prohibited spectators from setting up flags to support their favoured teams and drivers. With the exception of Toyota.

Why Toyota? Former Benetton mechanic and Fuji TV F1 commentator, Tetsuo Tsugawa explained: “…Although I have worked in Formula One for thirty years, this is the first time I have seen a Grand Prix race without seeing fans wave the flag of Ferrari. I think this is inexcusable. What I heard was Fuji Speedway prohibited flags and banners of F1 teams, but I saw a Toyota F1 flag in the stands of the Toyota-owned circuit.”

“The track later said the flags were not prohibited, but there was a miscommunication between the race organisers and the staff of the circuit. However, many fans familiar with Formula One noticed the strangeness of the circuit without the team banners.”

Of course it wouldn’t be fair to just write about the criticism they received. After all there was praise too…

“I would like to say congratulations to Fuji Speedway for hosting this race for the first time in 30 years. The facilities here are excellent and the race was well organised.” offered the Team Principal of Toyota F1, Tadashi Yamashina. You couldn’t make it up!

The Jackal

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Nico and Lewis become driving instructors

TJ13 presents the fourth installment of the Allianz road safety campaign featuring Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – filmed no doubt in happier days..

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Mercedes dominate despite worst reliability

“We have enhanced controls, recruited other experts, shortened the time of replacement of various components. But while our car is a reference point in performance, from the point of view of robustness we have a problem, “says Toto Wolff.

Auto Motor Und Sport carried a survey recently about the comparable reliability of the first four teams in the 2014 World Championship. Surprisingly, Mclaren has accumulated the highest distance covered with 8277kms and only three retirements. Second behind them is Ferrari with the distance covered of 7,989kms.

Red Bull is third on the list, and despite having failed to finish on five occasions have covered 7,729kms. Which staggeringly leaves the Mercedes in just fourth position having completed the distance of ‘just’ 7,639kms.

The most recent issue for the Silver Arrows team was the breakdown of the wiring on the steering system of Nico Rosberg which seemed inexplicable seeing as the car had not been moved after qualifying had finished. But the first retirement was the spark plug cap in Australia that accounted for Lewis Hamilton.

Of course between these breakages has been the failure of the braking systems on both cars in Canada, Rosberg’s gearbox failing in Britain, Hamilton suffering problems with his brakes in Austria and Germany and a spectacular fire in Hungarian qualifying.

After a daunting pre-season testing regime – that frightened all the other runners into fearing they couldn’t compete this year – Mercedes have slowly moved way from the early season dominance to a point that the chasing pack can see chinks in the silver armour.

A despairing Niki Lauda stated: “Every time it’s something different, it can not go on like this.” It is no surprise that the Leprechaun constantly tells all that will listen that he is relevant because it is unlikely the paymasters at Stuttgart do..

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Alonso – out of the Italian frying pan into the Japanese fire

Last year, media reports stated categorically that the Renault and Ferrari engines were some way off of the performance of the Mercedes engine. Considering how secretive the teams are around in-house developments it was always staggering to have neutral observers being able to accurately predict what has in fact transpired. But essentially, with teams made up of 100’s if not 1000’s of staff it is practically impossible to mute an entire workforce.

Italian sources are reporting that Honda is currently around three months behind schedule in just being able to run an engine in anger. This isn’t the twenty weeks repair schedule that TJ13 learnt about from Renault; before anybody else got wind of their problems in Jerez this year. This is fundamentally more serious and it appears that the 2015 season could well prove to be a frustrating year for Mclaren drivers – enduring worse than any of the Renault powered drivers have suffered this season.

The design of the engine hasn’t been signed off yet and currently Honda is having problems with fuel consumption allied to a lack of horsepower. Honda has invested massively within Japan and has passed over the work on the Energy Recovery System to their partner Mclaren Applied Technologies. Although this group developed the electric system for the P1 hyper car, they are currently struggling to integrate this with the Japanese engine design.

It is practically impossible that the three drivers courted by Woking do not know the current situation and whilst they may accept the money offered for what is likely to be a difficult season, would they want to consign themselves to three years of unknowing?

This possibly explains why Ferrari have decided to play hardball with Alonso. They refused his terms of extending his contract for $30 million per annum and Marco Mattiacci has become detached in his dealings with the Spanish superstar.

As an amateur magician, Alonso understands the playing of cards intuitively but is he prepared – at 34 years old next season – to gamble himself to a project that will gradually see his personal competitiveness begin to wane.

Whilst many remember the old alliance between Mclaren and Honda as a dominant one, the F1 landscape has changed in the intervening quarter of a century. The last engines that Honda built for their own team in the mid 2000’s were both under-powered and had heavy consumption.

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How to keep Fernando happy… as seen on Twitter

ByoND5NIcAETXsk.jpg_large

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Silverstone Grand Prix Tickets, Finance now available

Silverstone have launched a partnership with Zebra finance which offers finance opportunities for those wishing to purchase tickets for the British GP in 2015.

“To celebrate the launch of our new instalment plan option we’re offering 0% interest on all ticket purchases made through Zebra Finance.  This offer will only be around until 17th October 2014, so don’t hesitate, purchase your 2015 British Grand Prix tickets today using the instalment plan. 

The repayments via the Zebra Finance Instalment Plan are illustrated with the Representative Example below.

Amount of credit £755
Repayable by 9 monthly instalments of £83.89
Total amount repayable £755
Annual rate of interest (fixed) 0%
APR Representative 0%

 

 9 month example based upon purchase of 2 tickets of £345 each plus car parking of £65”.

This offer is only available to those purchasing full 3 day grandstand tickets and approval or rejection of an applicant occurs within an hour.

Of course Zebra finance are not doing this for the love of Formula 1, they will receive a commission or benefits in kind from Silverstone to fund the administration of the scheme.

The cost of attending the British Grand Prix weekend for a family of 4, even attending GA – with accommodation and travel is unlikely to be less than £1,000 and more likely £1,500.

This speaks volumes about the state of F1’s finances and the cost to race-goers. Certain German outlets are describing this as ‘grotesque’… Finance a car… finance a visit to the British GP.

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Lotus losing money again

Despite suggestions from the Lotus team deputy principal Federico Gastaldi, that “the immediate future is bright and we are all working hard to be well prepared for 2015”, the BBC reports Lotus 2013 loses have increased from the £55.3m in 2012 to £64.9m in 2013.

Further, the team is spending around £130m a year on its F1 programme and they are around £130m in debt to Genii shareholders.

The CEO of Enstone Matthew Carter claims Lotus budget is relatively modest when compared to the bigger spenders in Formula One whose annual budget is in excess of £1/4 billion ($400m).

Carter claims that for 2014, following a programme of redundancies and the introduction of new partners, the Lotus team will post numbers close to break even.

This is all very positive news, and rightly so considering Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll is now considering buying the Enstone team.

TJ13 reported earlier this year, that Lotus and Renault were close to doing a deal which would see the Enstone outfit as the Renault works team. However, the disaster that was the Renault power train and the subsequent and necessary significant input from Red Bull engineers, who were shipped to work full time in Viry – put pay to this.

There have been many who believe Red Bull has been the unofficial Renault works team for some years, though Helmut Marko rejected this before the Singapore GP 2014.

“That was never the case. For many years we’ve been a customer team for them like all the others and it’s only our success that has made us move closer together – under such conditions Lotus was, for a long time, the secret darling of Renault. That has only changed very recently. What followed was the announcement that Red Bull is the official works team of Renault”.

It is for this reason Lotus are now looking to Mercedes for a power train, and have a pay as you go deal in place – which is not ideal.

Much of the value to the Genii investors would have been based upon the fact that Renault were seriously considering buying the team back, though now it appears ‘Lotus Renault’ will be just ‘Lotus’ in 2015.

Sauber appear to have blown an offer from Stroll as reports in the Swiss media suggest the Canadian investor believed they were asking too high a price. So the Genii investors must now take a long hard look at their predicament.

The team has lost money for the past 2 years and the prize money they will receive for 2014 will be around $18m less than it was for finishing fourth in 2013.

A deal which would see the Genii investors get their cash back – may in fact be as good as they can expect. But will they take that – or believe the perpetual dream that big money can be made from owning a Formula 1 team?

2013 Formula 1 Prize Money
Team 2013 Standings Column 1 Column 2 Total
Red Bull 1 $35 million $66.5 million $101.5 million
Mercedes 2 $35 million $56 million $91 million
Ferrari 3 $35 million $45.5 million $80.5 million
Lotus 4 $35 million $38.5 million $73.5 million
McLaren 5 $35 million $35 million $70 million
Force India 6 $35 million $31.5 million $66.5 million
Sauber 7 $35 million $24.5 million $59.5 million
Toro Rosso 8 $35 million $21 million $56 million
Williams 9 $35 million $17.5 million $52.5 million
Marussia 10 $0 $14 million $14 million
Caterham 11 $35 million $0 $35 million
Source: Joe Saward

Notes

You have to finish 2 out of 3 years in top 10 to get column one monies (like a grant).

Column one monies are 50% of the revenue FOM provides for the teams.

Column 2 monies are the other 50%, 19% of which is for winner down to 4% for 10th place. 11th place gets nothing.

Ferrari on top of this are awarded somewhere between $18-30m for being Ferrari (the oldest F1 team around and agreeing with Bernie). Note Ferrari got more money with this arrangement finishing 3rd than the winners.

Should Caterham fail to finish above 11th – they will get ZERO from FOM for this years prize money and no column one funding for 2015.

Marrusia will go from receiving just $14m in 2014 to $52.5m in 2015 should they stay in 9th place.

For the first three years of their existance, the ‘new’ teams had a column 3 fund of $10m each. This has been withdrawn.

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Remi Taffin’s insights into Suzuka’s demands on the PU

Suzuka blends in historic fashion a range of corners with a high power section of the circuit. The first half of the lap is where the corners are found with the ‘power’ sector coming at the end of the lap.

Taffin describes where the various PU components are being taxed most. “The first challenge of the lap is the Esses, a series of bends where the driver will dance with the throttle as he changes direction at high speed.

Similar to Silverstone’s Maggotts and Becketts, the driver enters the complex at approximately 245kph and carries the speed through until the exit of the complex. He will spend approximately 15secs in fifth or sixth gear through this section. With plenty of quick lifts and changes of direction, a neutral handling car with good drive throughout the torque range is required.

This section gives the MGU-H plenty of time to recover energy through the constant exhaust stream, while the MGU-K will also get a top up as the driver touches the brakes. The best opportunity for the K to recharge the battery, however, will be through the hairpin and then the chicane at the end of the lap”.

And now to the grunt required, Remi continues, “The second part of the track will really tax the ICE and turbo. The distance from Turn 14 through the awesome 130R to the chicane is 1,250m and the driver will be at full throttle throughout. At full rpm that will take nearly 17secs, meaning the driver will cover 75m each sec. Inside the ICE the pistons will turn at an incredible 200 times per second, generating enormous internal forces.

Due to the strain on each part, we will, where possible, introduce new components for this race. Reliability will start to play a major role in results at this point in the season since every team and driver has had to mix and match as we have learnt more on the operation of the power unit. To keep aces in hand, we may even see teams run fewer miles in practice to save the engines for the rest of the year.

We are however fairly at ease on this front since we have committed ourselves to introduce a sixth power unit where needed. The picture is a lot clearer now and although not exactly ideal to have to introduce new parts and take penalties, we can do this at races where the impact will be minimised. We believe Suzuka will be a good challenge, but one that we are looking forward to with no worries”.

Having taken the tactical decision to introduce a 6th Power Unit ‘at some point’, this suggests Renault and Red Bull will not be hostages to fortune as to when this happens.

Hence, we may see both Red Bull’s take it on the chin this weekend, and elect to take a sixth PU and 10 place grid drops, whilst they hope others power trains will fall apart under the demands of this classic motor racing circuit.

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Nurburgring back in crisis

Following the noise made by new ‘owners’ of the Nurburgring that they were negotiating an exclusive contract for the German GP which would see Hockenheim out in the cold, Capricorn may well be about to default on the tiered finance payments required to finalise the deal to buy the historic racing circuit.

The German based Capricorn Group, supplies high-end crankshafts, cylinder liners, pistons, connecting rods and fibre-reinforced composite materials to the motor sports industry, wanted to develop the Nuerburging as a technology centre. However, the deal to acquire ‘the ring’ and associated assets was reported at over 100 million euros, of which Capricorn were to put up 45m euros and a German Bank – the rest.

The bank financing the rest appears to have pulled the plug as Capricorn allegedly failed to make the second of their three instalments by the end of July.

Following a collapse into insolvency in 2012 of the previous ‘ring’ operators, Administrator Jens Lieser was appointed to oversea the sale of ‘the ring’ and other assets. Lieser is said to be now talking to those whose bids failed back in March, to see what interest still exists with them to acquire the Nurburgring.

This leaves Ecclestone and FOM with a dilemma. In 2013 when Nurburgring was last due to host the German GP, the promoters delayed signing the deal until the eleventh hour, leaving Ecclestone with no choice but to drop the hosting fee – or have no race.

Mr. E will be wise to this second time around, and Hockenheim will be receiving a call fairly soon, one suspects. Look out for “Hockenheim are lovely people” quotes coming soon from the F1 Supremo.

The decision for the location of the race must be made before the commencement of the season.

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On This Day in #F1 : 30th September 2001 – Murray Walker

•September 30, 2014 • 13 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

- 2001: Go! Go! Go! Go! Formula One’s legendary commentator Murray Walker hung up his microphone in style after the 2001 United States Grand Prix.

Two weeks had passed since the Monza GP, and almost 3 weeks since the sad events that unfolded in New York on the morning of Tuesday 11th September. There was some speculation regarding the running of the US Grand Prix, as it would be the first major sporting event held on American soil since the tragedy. The fans that attended embraced the sport and said their thanks with countless banners throughout the 185,000 crowd.

Murray Walker’s last commentary would cover the final victory of Hakkinen’s career. A fitting end to two great F1 careers.

His decision was based on the fact he was 78 years of age and he would rather leave than be asked to leave. Throughout 2001, he had chosen a lighter work schedule and avoided the races he didn’t particularly enjoy.

While the future of Mika Hakkinen had been on everyones lips for the previous few weeks, at Indy the focus of all conversations was the retirement of Walker as TV’s front man.

A special send off was organised by the Williams team on the Friday night marking the end of an era. Colleagues who had worked with Walker, team bosses, Ecclestone and all the drivers were present. It spoke volumes for his personality and professionalism that everyone attended.

The evening included personal memories from a number of different people.

Coulthard: “He has created great television out of sometimes boring races and makes every event seem like losing your virginity.”

Irvine: “It was amazing. He can makes the most boring race sound great. I used to get excited because he did make mistakes, but it did really annoy me”

Some of my favourites include,

You can cut the tension with a cricket stump.

Eight minutes past the hour here in Belgium – presumably eight minutes past the hour everywhere in the world.

And now, excuse me while I interrupt myself.

Are they on a one stopper? Are they on a two? And when I say they, who do I mean? Well, I don’t know. It could be anybody.

Do my eyes deceive me, or is Senna’s Lotus sounding rough?

But for me it has to be,

Murray: So Bernie, in the seventeen years since you bought Mclaren, which of your many achievements do you think was the most memorable?

Bernie: Well I don’t remember buying Mclaren.

Straight from the horses mouth, some more Murray-isms to enjoy:

An extraordinary career, he was recognised within Britain and other countries around the world that received their commentary from the BBC service as the “voice of F1″.

Yet he could also speak in measured tones if the circumstances required him too.

A humble and self deprecating man, this last clip exemplifies perfectly what his voice could bring to the most solemn of sports.

Thirteen years on and he is still missed.

#F1 Daily News and Comment: Monday 29th September 2014

•September 29, 2014 • 50 Comments

DN&C_header_EXPRESS_4

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 The Judge 13:

#F1 Polls: Driver of the Weekend Report: The year to date

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 7th: Porsche


OTD Lite: 2002 – Ferrari’s contrived US Grand Prix finish

F1 starting to recognise that the cars are too easy to drive

Ericsson to continue with Caterham in 2015 – if they are still competing

No handbags at Red Bull

Force India turns to Toyota for wind tunnel (GMM)

Ferrari loses legal battle with engineer (GMM)

McLaren expecting a ‘tricky’ Suzuka

Verstappen Japan debut

Tweeting it wrong


OTD Lite: 2002 – Ferrari’s contrived US Grand Prix finish

On this day – twelve years ago – Ferrari recorded the closest finish in F1 history. Well, at least since the timing system had changed to 1000ths of a second. Just 0.011 separated Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher as they crossed the line. Which in itself would suggest an almighty fight to the line.

Sadly in a season of Ferrari dominance, Schumacher had led the ‘race’ throughout and as they approached the line attempted to stage a dead heat.

2002-US

Many felt that it was Schumi repaying his team-mate after the Brazilian had given up victory in Austria that year. The team had been vilified after the Austrian debacle and the tirade of abuse continued here. The arrogance of the management of Ferrari seemingly astonished that the public wasn’t taken in by their simple explanations of manipulating events in their quest for glory.

Ferrari’s reputation has never really recovered from those days – thanks Mr Todt – and to many remains an organisation run on a sense of entitlement. Most members of the tifosi enjoyed the success of the team whilst despairing at the contrived nature of the races.

Ultimately, when a team has built a dominant car the best method of publicity is to let the young warriors fight – irrespective of good or ill fortune.

The Jackal

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F1 starting to recognise that the cars are too easy to drive

“Today, you could take a young child from school and put him into an F1 car and he would be able to sustain the forces. From the physical side F1 has never been easier.”

Josef Leberer works for the Sauber F1 team but is most famously known for his close friendship with Ayrton Senna and as his personal trainer back in 1990. Following the recent SIngapore Grand Prix he was speaking about the differences between the current F1 and that of the late 80’s – early 90’s and suggested looking at drivers finishing races back then to see how far F1 has come in terms of driver comfort.

“I’m sure many current drivers would like to show their ability in comparison to the drivers in the past, but things have changed a lot on the physical and mental side. Back then drivers would be in pain for days with bruises on elbows, pain in the hands from gear changes and their necks would need rest following a race – it was much harder than today…

“It’s nice to have young drivers, but I have memories of drivers exhausted at the end of races, sweaty and having pushed their physical limits to almost be fainting by the end of races. Now drivers don’t even sweat anymore.

Daniel Ricciardo seemingly sings from the same hymn sheet, “From the physical point of view, it is definitely not a walk in the park, but it is easier than it was a couple of years ago. If the cars are quicker they’ll be physically harder to drive.”

Alain Prost also believes that the public perception of the F1 ‘Playstation’ era has lessened the interest in the sport and the time is ripe to make the cars harder to drive.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with Max Verstappen, but it’s true that he’s going to be able to drive the car no problem, this was absolutely not possible in our time – the cars were so difficult to drive. the first time we went to Portugal it was not possible to make a complete day of testing at all, no way!”

“It was physically really difficult, which is not the case today, I think the speed of the cars during the races and the grip is not very good. It’s quite slow, so you need to have a proper Formula 1.”

The FIA have said they will look at the regulations which allow drivers to become accredited for an FIA super license, though the implication is they will enforce restrictions to ensure drivers aged 17 are no longer eligible – and all this by 2017.

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Ericsson to continue with Caterham in 2015 – if they are still competing

Max Chilton is supposedly too pretty and his daddy too wealthy to worry about not being in Formula One with one of the tail-end teams. His performance matters little even if the British media felt it worthy his record of finishing all his races in his rookie season…

Likewise Marcus Ericsson trails round at the back at a speed that should require the safety car lights mounted on his rear wing. His speed is beyond question – the world and any debutant drivers in the other Caterham have already seen that it is classed as ‘SLOW‘ and yet the new Team Principal Manfredi Ravetto claims that Ericsson demonstrated his ability in Singapore.

As a newcomer dealing with a team that is collapsing from within – Ravetto’s demeanour would seem simply staggering as he states they have been talking to Marcus’s management and sponsors about his seat next year “because this year the team has invested in the growth of the driver.

Then he states the real reason behind Leafield’s enthusiasm for the slowest driver on the grid: “Next year we will be glad to have him back in our car and… make money from this investment rather than see it end up in some other machine.”

Attento Manfredi – don’t let Mr E. hear you can make money from F1 – he’ll decrease your share of the F1 purse even further.

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No handbags at Red Bull

Despite the fact that Daniel Ricciardo easily beat his team mate and having taken all three non-Mercedes wins this year, he maintains that this had no detrimental effect on the relationship with his team-mate. Unlike his predecessor, Danny boy has so far had no public spat with his colleague from the other side of the garage.

“We are at a point where I have won three races and he none, yet he relates to me the same as he did from the very start,” the Australian explains in an interview with Channel 7. “We still exchange data and info about the car. He tells me how his daughter is doing and much more. Considering that it is a relationship between motorsports team mates, it couldn’t be better.”

TJ13 comment: The relationship between the Red Bull drivers could have gone spectacularly wrong, but it didn’t for several reasons. The first is, Daniel Ricciardo does not carry the baggage of history which Mark Webber did. Webber’s relationship with Vettel  began in 2007, when an inexperienced Sebastian clattered into the back of his car during a safety car period, yet the very same ‘Kid’ came in two years later, scored the first win for Red Bull and dominated within the the RB senior team.

The second reason us Daniel does not do smack talk. With him comprehensively outscoring Vettel this year, he could have been smug, yet he isn’t and pays proper respect to his team mate. In return he receives the same respect back. Vettel congratulated him for each and every win and even posed for the winners photo’s without pulling a sour face like Rosberg did after Singapore. For all the explosive climate at RB over the last few years, there seems to be an air of harmony in Milton Keynes. Maybe it’s that very climate which makes Vettel cope rather well with what can only be described as an annus horribilis.

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Force India turns to Toyota for wind tunnel

Force India is the latest F1 team turning to Toyota’s state-of-the-art wind tunnel in Cologne. It emerged in Singapore recently that Caterham is developing its 2015 car in the Cologne tunnel.

Previously, Ferrari relied heavily on the Toyota facilities amid its troubles with its own tunnel at Maranello. “We haven’t used the one in Cologne for really quite some time,” said technical boss James Allison recently.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport also reports that, with McLaren leasing wind tunnel time to Marussia, the Woking based team also uses the Toyota facility. And Force India is now beginning to turn to Toyota. “Our wind tunnel was originally built for 30 per cent models,” said technical boss Andy Green, “so we don’t have enough room around the 50 per cent model.

From next year, a new cost cutting measure is that each team can only use one wind tunnel per season, so Force India has nominated Cologne. The report said Toyota charges about EUR 100,000 a week for the privilege.

TJ13 comment: So the promised $50m investment from Vijay – made to years ago – and a wind tunnel for the Silverstone team is now finally revealed to be a fantasy.

Wind tunnels are an important part of modern F1 comeptition and Ferrari have had their own share of wind tunnel difficulties. The Maranello facility was repaired, upgraded and recalibrated by October 2013, but previously they too had been using the Toyota tunnel from 2012 and designed this year’s car fully in the Cologne based complex.

Mclaren also have been using the same facility for the last couple of seasons with it would appear similar results.

Of course it could be mere coincidence that these two ‘grandees’ have suffered some of their worst form in a generation – it could be that the people in charge of aero really don’t have a clue – but could it simply be that the Toyota facility has a reputation that has been unjustly earnt.

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(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)

Ferrari loses legal battle with engineer

Ferrari has lost a legal battle with a disgruntled F1 engineer. For 2012, Briton Steve Clark joined the fabled Maranello team from Mercedes, where he was a highly respected senior technical advisor. It was reported at the time that Clark’s new role would be in charge of Ferrari’s race engineers.

But Italy’s specialist Autosprint and La Gazzetta dello Sport separately report that Clark was subsequently ‘demoted’ to a role in Ferrari’s non-F1 projects, including working on the Italian olympic team’s bobsled design.

Clark reportedly sued the team in the local Modena courts, arguing that the demotion to a role outside of F1 caused “serious harm to his career”. The judge reportedly agreed, declaring that his ‘demotion’ was contrary to his contract. The reports say Ferrari has been ordered to reinstate Clark in his contracted F1 role or an equivalent, which could result in a departure settlement for the 48-year-old Briton.

TJ13 comment: An interesting article which demonstrates the dictatorial vision of the ex-President of Ferrari – Montezemolo. Clark was hired by Pat Fry and Stefano Domenicali to bring his expertise to Ferrari and was moved in the endless games of politics played out in Maranello.

As Costa explained earlier this year, every person recruited – and every decision on investment made – had to pass by Il Padrino – he refused to delegate authority. It will be interesting to see if the new regime empowers its people or disables them because simply – ‘We are Ferrari’

Of perhaps more pertinence is that once upon a time the power in Maranello was greater than the law – effectively. How times have changed..

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McLaren expecting a ‘tricky’ Suzuka

Jenson Button appears not to be relishing the upcoming Japanaese Grand Prix in Suzuka.

“I think circuits that have a high-speed nature but not a big change of direction will be fine, like Brazil, but Suzuka could be tricky for us,” explained the British driver.

“It is a shame, especially for the future of this team, that it could be a really tricky race for the team. But we have a few little things that could help us.”

The McLaren has visibly been twitchy through the high speed corners at circuits with those characteristics through the 2014 season, though Jenson’s comments suggesting a disappointing result in Japan will affect “the future of this team” are surprising.

“Traction has been a big issue [this year], and also when the car is unsettled it is very difficult. In gradual high-speed corners we are reasonably good, but on corners with a sharp turn-in we are nowhere.

We have no initial turn-in, we don’t get it in, and then the rear falls over. The change of direction in high speed is the same. For the first part we are good, but as soon as you change direction and go over the central part of the steering wheel we lose speed.

It has been a weakness, and something that has improved over the year”.

The 2014 regulations have seen a substantial amount of aerodynamic downforce stripped from the cars and it is this which Button highlights has been problematic for the Woking team all year.

“I think it is just a lack of downforce. We started the year knowing we had a lack of downforce but wanting a driveable car – which it is. But the problem is we needed to start pushing it to make it more edgy – and we’ve done that!

But it’s all great planning for next year.”

McLaren have been 3rd or 4th best amongst the Mercedes engine cars for most of the year, and would be detached from that group of teams had Force India had the budget to deliver proper in season development.

2013 saw McLaren fail to score a podium, which was rectified in Australia 2014, however Button does not expect a repeat of this unless others fail. “I don’t think we will be quick enough to get a podium. We could get close enough for it if people in front make a mistake, but I don’t think we will get it [on merit alone].”

But why is Japan so important to McLaren that it may “affect the future of the team”?

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Verstappen Japan debut

Franz Tost is known to be one of the most uncompromising of the team principals left in Formula 1. He allegedly got into a brawl with Scott Speed following the 2007 European GP at the Nurburgring.

Speed left the team immediately and Sebastian Vettel famously got his opportunity.

Back in Singapore Tost was his usual grumpy self with plenty to say at the team principal’s press conference. He dismissed the FIA’s proposals for changing pit/car radio broadcasts as, “absolutely not necessary,”

Tost argues, radio is entertainment and information which when shared improves the fans understanding and enjoyment of the sport.  “For me it’s absolutely nonsense what we are discussing here because in all the other kinds of sports a coach gives some information, instructions to a football player, for example, on the sideline or wherever.

“This does not mean that the sportsman is not able to do his job, he can do his job, he does do his job, but maybe he can do it in a better way, it’s just a performance improvement. Therefore I don’t understand it.”

During that same conference, Tost revealed to a rather surprised audience, that Max Verstappen had completed a test at the Adria International Raceway and fulfilled the requirements for his FIA superlicense. Further, Tost revealed Max would be driving FP1 in Japan.

Max will become the youngest ever F1 driver when he takes to the grid in Adelaide next March. “I am very much looking forward to taking part in a Free Practice session at a Grand Prix for the first time. It is good preparation for next year, even if it’s not something I could have imagined a few months ago. To already be participating in a practice session is of course a dream come true,” Verstappen said.

“I have actually been to Suzuka before, to take part in a go-kart race on the track that is located next to the main circuit’s back straight. My dad has raced at Suzuka many times and he told me it’s not an easy track to start on. 

For me it will be a very valuable experience, spending some time in the car and also getting used to working with everyone in the team, to prepare myself for next year. I am not going there to break any records, I just want to gain experience. I have spent one day driving this track on the simulator, which helps a bit, but it’s no substitute for driving it for real. 

My first impression is that it’s not an easy track and for example it looks hard to get the combination right in the first esses. I have one and a half hours to drive there and I’m looking forward to doing a good job, for myself and for the team.”

For JEV fighting to save his F1 career, missing FP1 in Japan is a blow.

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Tweeting it wrong

Mercedes conducted a “forensic analysis” of the issue that affected Nico Rosberg’s car during the recent Singapore race. It showed the steering column electronics had been “contaminated with a foreign substance”.
“The contamination was not visible and did not manifest itself until Sunday as Nico went to the grid,” Mercedes said on Twitter.

The timing of the announcement could not have come at a better time for the conspiracy theorists to have a field day, dreaming up all sorts of wonderful schemes from the Stuttgart team. With just 5 races to go, the twittersphere was sent into overdrive when Mercedes tweeted, “To clarify, the contaminant was a substance used in normal pre-event servicing of the component. Not a conspiracy!”

William of Occam would be having a field day with his razor at the moment, given raft of theories abounding at the moment. But loose lips do sink ships and Mercedes team management and drivers have all at times made pronouncements that feed into the current speculative fever.

Mercedes currently appear rather sensitive to the charges, but lies the truth is that as the end of the season approaches and resources are deployed more and more into next year’s project, backroom politics becomes increasingly important to the quest for the WDC. Both drivers have been around long enough to know how to play the game and each is doing their utmost to swing the pendulum in their favour.

Though Mercedes’ PR department may be ruing it currently, the fact of the matter is the current drama is all that stands between the fans and possibly one of the most boring seasons ever imaginable, and eventually they will reap the benefits. Sometimes doing things the wrong way, turns out to be the best way.

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#F1 Victims of Circumstance: Marina Bay 2014 – #SingaporeGP

•September 29, 2014 • 7 Comments

Brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

 

[For those who are new to the page; TJ13 attempts to remove certain aspects of the race to give a fairer reflection of the race result.]

First impressions will, I am led to believe, last forever.  Therefore, those that have more of a propensity to certain results will be expected to do so for all of time.  The harsh reality for a driver that does not find his feet immediately is that he will most probably face an impossible battle to win the doubters over.

I know I have been guilty in the past of writing off the chances of Marcus Ericsson to deliver results given his previous career in GP2 and route into the ‘big time’.  Credit where it is due as the Swede drove an impressive race to bring home his best finish in the sport.   However, there were still those who boasted his success was only down to the misfortune of Kamui Kobayashi, forced out of the race before it had even begun.

Once more there is a demonstration of why GP2/3 and other feeder series require greater spotlighting and media coverage.  Drivers would be afforded more time to adjust to life in the higher tier, as well as a range of other benefits. Well done to Marcus for his result, although to me it simply highlighted the problems young drivers face.  Something needs to change.

Kamui Kobayashi leaps clear of his car after pulling up on the formation lap

Kamui Kobayashi leaps clear of his car after pulling up on the formation lap

So what really happened?

Kamui Kobayashi: Another week, another retirement for the green team as their existence continues to lie in the balance.  It must be heart-breaking for the Japanese fans to watch their idol fail to finish each race, so fingers crossed for some better luck at his home race.  He is reinstated to 21st place.

Nico Rosberg: Nothing the German could have done about a contamination to his steering column.  The most telling piece of footage of the weekend was the exchange between Toto and Nico in the garage.  Allegiances will become more prominent as the fight for the title tightens.  After his DNF here, winning is everything for Nico.  At least he gets awarded 2nd position here.

Daniel Ricciardo: Even though he had car troubles, it is not for certain he would have been able to pass his teammate.  Whether Red Bull should have enforced team orders is another matter.  He remains in position.

Jenson Button: As the other McLaren driver overheated, the older statesman was forced into retiring from the race.  He may soon be forced into retirement if Honda get their way with Alonso.  After such a promising drive, Button deserved a decent points haul.  He is reinstated to 9th place.

Esteban Gutierrez: Having shown so much promise in the races early stages, the anger that came out was understandable as the Mexican was robbed of the first point of the season.  He is reinstated to 10th place.

Adrian Sutil: The regular result of a DNF for Sutil was no different here in Singapore.  He is reinstated to a net 16th place.

Max Chilton: While he did pick up a puncture forcing him to pit once more, it almost certainly would not have made much difference to the end result.  Chilton stays in position.

The Verdict
This leaves the revised results table looking like this:

Revised Race Position Driver Result comparison Points Points Difference Grid Position
Start Revised Position
1 Lewis Hamilton = 25 = 1 1
2 Nico Rosberg RETIRED 18 +18 2 2
3 Sebastian Vettel -1 15 -3 4 3
4 Daniel Ricciardo -1 12 -3 3 4
5 Fernndo Alonso -1 10 -2 5 5
6 Felipe Massa -1 8 -2 6 6
7 Jenson Button RETIRED 6 +6 11 7
8 Jean-Eric Vergne -2 4 -4 12 8
9 Sergio Perez -2 2 -4 15 9
10 Esteban Guttierez RETIRED 1 +1 14 10
11 Kimi Raikkonen -3 0 -4 7 11
12 Nico Hulkenberg -3 0 -2 13 12
13 Kevin Magnussen -3 0 -1 20 13
14 Valtteri Bottas -3 0 = 8 14
15 Pastor Maldonado -3 0 = 18 15
16 Adrian Sutil RETIRED 0 = 17 16
17 Romain Grosjean -4 0 = 16 17
18 Daniil Kvyat -4 0 = 10 18
19 Marcus Ericsson -4 0 = 22 19
20 Jules Bianchi -4 0 = 19 20
21 Kamui Kobayashi RETIRED 0 = 20 21
22 Max Chilton -5 0 = 21 22

 

Below, the revised World Drivers’ Championship:

Driver Revised WDC WDC Points Difference
Position Points
Lewis Hamilton 1 281 +40
Nico Rosberg 2 272 +34
Daniel Ricciardo 3 175 -9
Sebastian Vettel 4 128 +4
Fernando Alonso 5 116 -15
Valtteri Bottas 6 104 -18
Felipe Massa 7 87 +22
Jenson Button 8 69 -3
Nico Hulkenberg 9 48 -24
Kimi Raikkonen 10 47 +1
Sergio Perez 11 37 -8
Kevin Magnussen 12 25 -14
Daniil Kvyat 13 11 +5
Jean-Eric Vergne 14 13 -6
Romain Grosjean 15 4 -4
Esteban Gutierrez 16 1 +1
Jules Bianchi 17 0 -2
Adrian Sutil 18 0 =
Kamui Kobayashi 19 0 =
Max Chilton 20 0 =
Marcus Ericsson 21 0 =
Pastor Maldonado 22 0 =

*Those with 0 points will not be ordered

What they would have said

Either way, the momentum is most definitely in the Hamilton camp as we head to the Suzuka.  Were the gap down to just 15 points then we would still be talking about whether Rosberg can hold on for the Championship win.  Perhaps the poor reliability is a blessing in disguise as the mind-set is completely different, now needing to beat Hamilton.  If he is going to win in 2014. he will have to do it the hard way.

Had Magnussen and Kvyat not had problems with overheating cars and malfunctioning drinks bottles, their races would have been differently, or so they say.  However, call me a sceptic, but it seems a very convenient excuse to me for a slow car, at least for Kvyat.  An issue of driver safety to be addressed for years to come perhaps.

Quote of the Day

Seth Godin the American author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker once said, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”

Time to get back to basics then

Time to get back to basics then

In an age where so much is invested into car development maybe someone should remind the designers it is humans that drive the cars.  It doesn’t matter how complex your front wing becomes, if your driver isn’t cared for then it will affect their race.

#F1 Polls: Driver of the Weekend Report: The year to date

•September 28, 2014 • 31 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Still I Surprise

With the latest TJ13 Driver of the Weekend poll, Singapore, closed and the end result was different to what I said initially in a previous analysis. There was a late turn around in sentiment with ‘The Finger’ coming up from behind (pun intended) to usurp then leader ‘Hollywood’ as the official TJ13 DotW of Singapore.

SingaporeGP DotW 2014

2014 SingaporeGP Driver of The Weekend

Few can deny ‘The Finger’ deserves his top spot, the first victory for him this season. The soon to be ex World Champion did a great drive to second place!

Last year’s winner, ‘Iceman’ did not even feature on this DotW poll. While ‘The Finger’ won in convincing manner who can forget the Iceman’s drive from 13th to 3rd…

SingarporeGP DotW 2013

2013 SingaporeGP Driver of The Weekend

GP winner v TJ13 DotW analysis:

Below I have updated the data and analysis in this type “GP winner v TJ13 fan base” analysis on perception…

Standings to date
Grand Prix GP Winner TJ13 DotW
Australia Britney K-Mag
Malaysia Hollywood Hollywood
Bahrain Hollywood Hollywood
China Hollywood Teflonzo
Spain Hollywood The Finger
Monaco Britney Jules ‘ribbet’ Bianchi
Canada Colgate Boy Colgate Boy*
Austria Britney Valeri Bolt-Ass
Great Britain Hollywood Valeri Bolt-Ass
Germany Britney Hollywood
Hungary Colgate Boy Teflonzo
Belgium Colgate Boy Colgate Boy
Italy Hollywood Colgate Boy
Singapore Hollywood The Finger

Notes:
– Out of 14 races, only on 4 occasions did a driver do the TJ13 double of winning the GP and getting crowned as the TJ13 DotW.

- Therefore in 10 GP’s, the TJ13 community collectively decided someone OTHER than the race winner was the better performer. Interestingly, from a sociological perspective, the TJ13 community collectively see’s beyond who actually won the race, which I originally didn’t bank on. It’s a bit like @F1esty’s analogy of 1000ppl guessing the weight of a cow, and the average somehow being correct.

- Most DotW winners are Colgate Boy and Hollywood, both have 3 DotW’s, followed by The Finger, Teflonzo and Valeri Bolt-ass with 2 each.

- Having led most of the rounds as world title leader, Britney has zero DotW wins as K-Mag in Australia, Bianchi in Monaco, Valeri Bolt-Ass in Austria and Hollywood in Germany were all deemed better performers to Britney’s GP wins.

- Of Hollywood’s 7 GP wins this season, in only 2 was he also considered the TJ13 DotW.

- Despite Mercedes having won 11/14 races collectively, a Mercedes driver has only been deemed worthy of a TJ13 DotW crown 3 times.

Summary:
A cursory glance at other sites and fan bases, and research on such polls and comments back to Australia suggests these TJ13 results are relatively universal and broadly inline with this community.

Therefore, #WhatAWastedArrow, even if only on a collective team basis. With the Silver Arrow car enjoying an unprecedented 2sec/lap car advantage season long, which in the hands of a Senna/McLaren Team or a Mansell/Williams Team or a Schumi/Ferrari Team, the world title would be wrapped up and delivered by now.

Furthermore and based on that view, I think the F1 fans would still have regularly collectively voted for those aforementioned drivers as their fortnightly race DotW because they’d see the pure extraction of the maximum performance and results from what was available. Not shenanigans, manipulations and under performance speckled with the occasional good drive.

For example I recall similar polls on Schumacher still getting DotW (or equivalent) quite regularly in the years (01,02,04) that he enjoyed his best car advantages, which incidentally were never in the 2sec/lap range. There seemed to always be a feeling of, “oh well, he earned it and ultimately he used it flawlessly. Can’t fault that.” There were no internet polls for the others who enjoy mega car advantages (Senna / Mansell / Clark) who I mention, so I can’t speak to them.

On some level, we know one of the greatest performance gaps, if not the greatest gap in history, is being relatively squandered and it’s not just the reliability I am referring to. The collective poll data above, and elsewhere, reflects that we collectively know this.

*Data Entry adjustment:
Max ‘the model’ Chilton actually got DotW at Canada. Strange joke, clearly, considering he crashed on lap 1 and took his team mate out. Second place promoted in this single instance for the analysis. All others were the DotW contenders selected.

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 7th: Porsche

•September 28, 2014 • 7 Comments

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs

As with my series on drivers, I started with the Wiki ‘List of Formula One Constructors’ and quickly reduced 136 to 43 eligible constructors by removing the Champions, and those hopefuls who failed to last beyond two or three seasons, and also those who only competed before 1958. [See Part-20 - Intro for details.]

“I feel the need – the need for speed!”

F&f-01b-W7th

Porsche

Considering the international fame of the Porsche name there is amazingly little written about the company’s F1 history on the internet. OK, it was brief, lasting barely three years, so perhaps a little pre- history is deserved.

Ferdinand Porsche was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1875, taking Czech nationality after WWI, and then German, in 1934.

Helping in his father’s workshop from childhood Ferdinand joined the Lohner coachbuilding company in Vienna in 1898 and, in 1901, produced his second auromobile design, perhaps the first ‘hybrid’ vehicle, with a Daimler ic-engine driving a generator that drove individual electric motors mounted within the wheel hubs. This car won the Exelberg Rally in 1901 and broke several speed records.

1902 provided a short hiatus as military service saw Ferdinand doing duty as chauffeur to Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

In 1906 Ferdinand joined Austro-Daimler as chief designer, and ten years later was Managing Director. He produced several very successful racing cars until, in 1923, he left the company after disagreements about it’s future but was soon given the place of Technical Director in Daimler’s parent company in Stuttgart, where he continued to create successful cars, culminating in the Mercedes-Benz SSK.

Ferdinand helped with the merger of the two companies into Daimler-Benz but his desire to produce a small light- weight car was not supported by the board and he left again, in 1929, for Steyr, but the Depression sent this small, light-weight company to the wall.

So 1931 saw the establishment of the design-consultant company of Porsche, in Stuttgart, and he and his son, Ferdinand Jr. (known as ‘Ferry’), joined forces to produce Ferdinand’s small-car dream, first supported by Zundapp, and then NSU.

In 1932 Ferdinand also developed a new single-seater racing car based on the 1923 Benz ‘Tear-Drop’, for the current 750kg. formula where the car, without driver, fuel, oil, water and tyres could not weigh more than 750kg… and that was about all. At the same time Auto Union was formed and they wanted a ‘show-piece’.

In 1933 Hitler declared every German should be able to own either a car or a tractor… and he also instigated a state motor-racing programme by giving 500,000 Reichsmarks to Mercedes-Benz… Porsche created prototypes for the ‘peoples’-car’ which so pleased Hitler the racing grant was suddenly split in two, with 250,000 going to Auto Union, creating intense exchamges between the companies, on and off the track.

Ferdinand was dubbed ‘the Great German Engineer’… until it was realised he was Czech, and Hitler regarded the Czechs as ‘sub-human’, so Ferdinand jumped ships… took German nationality, and also joined the SS.
Mercedes-Benz produced the W125, and Auto-Union the TYPE-A, -B, -C, & -D… and that part of the story is sufficiently well known for us to move on. Both cars were known as ‘Silver Arrows’.

AutoUnion-01-W

1940’s

After the war Porsche, father and son, were imprisoned, as ‘war criminals’, with Ferry being released first, He moved the Porsche operation to Austria, and designed the 4WD Type 360 Cisitalia, which never raced but the fee was used to bail dad out of jail. In 1948 Porsche also started work on the classic ‘356’, the first car to carry the Porsche name.

Now strongly ensconced in sportscar manufacture it’s not surprising the company became involved in sportscar racing. The Volkswagen company was now churning out the ‘Beetle’, and Porsche earned a royalty on all 20,000,000+ models made. Ferdinand finally visited the VW factory in Wolfsburg in November, 1950. The following month he suffered a stroke, and died in January, 1951. ‘Ferry’ Porsche continued to control the company until 1972, and remained a director until 1990. He died in 1998. In 1999 Ferdinand Porsche was declared ‘Car Engineer of the Century’.

1950’s

Porsche won its class at LeMans in 1951 and their RSK sportscar was so successful it achieved an odd notoriety – during the 50’s the FIA often found itself drawing up regulations that nobody wanted. During 1950-1951 the only regular ‘works’ teams were from Alfa Romeo, Talbot, Maserati, and Ferrari, using a 4.5 NA / 1.5 SC formula but, in 1952 Alfa Romeo pulled out and Ferrari were left as the only serious F1 contender… so the FIA decided to award the Championship to the F2 races, which were for 2.0L NA engines.

Even so Ferrari won every race, and Ascari the Championship, against works cars from Gordini, HWM, Connaught, and Maserati… and a private Cooper Bristol driven so well by Mike Hawthorn he was given a works Ferrari drive for 1953… which saw a virtual repeat of 1952, Ferrari winning all but the Italian GP, which was taken by Maserati.

1954 saw new regs. with F1 now being run to 2.5 NA / 1.5 SC engines and Ferrari, Maserati and Gordini, and a host of various private entries (mostly running the previous year’s F2 cars) were joined by the might of Mercedes.

1955 saw the arrival of Lancia, for one year, and Vanwall, and 1956 finally saw BRM getting to grips with the grids. Meanwhile the 1.5L F2 was providing good racing for British companies using a much modified Coventry Climax engine that had been designed as a lightweight ‘pump’ for fire appliances. The company were keen to develop this new market and soon bored out the engine to 2.0L, and then 2.2L as numerous privateers battled it out, often as makeweights, at the back of the field.

And F1…

But, by 1957 there was still often a shortage of entries and several GP organisers allowed F2 cars to compete as well, although the FIA ruled they would not be elligible for Championship points… and Porsche finally arrived at the German GP with two cars for Edgar Barth and Umberto Maglioli, plus a private entry for Dutchman, Count Carel Godin de Beaufort…

For a couple of years the Porsche 718RSK sportscar had been entered in F2 races, first by fitting a single, central seat, and then by removing bodywork to make them ‘open single-seaters’, which achieved some success behind the Coopers, and now they were appearing occasionally at the rear of F1 grids, until 1960… when the regs. changed again.

In sportscar racing Porsche won, outright, the legendary Targa Florio.

1960-01-W

1961

For reasons which nobody understood at the time, and which only Ferrari seemed to support, the FIA upgraded the 1.5L F2 to F1 status for 1961 which provided a very natural entry for Porsche to become fully-fledged F1 competitors. Fielding the 718/2, and then the 787, for Jo Bonnier and Dan Gurney, Porsche ran a full season, backed by de Beaufort’s private entry, and occasional entries for Hans Herrman.

With three 2nd places in France, Italy and America Porsche finished their first season in F1 in 3rd place, behind Ferrari and Lotus, and well ahead of Cooper and BRM… and Gurney finished 4th in the Drivers’ Championship.
An interesting feature of F1 at this time was the number of non-championship races… While the Championship was fought out over eight rounds, there were twenty-one non-championship events, one of which, the Coppa Italia, was won by a Porsche driven by Giancarlo Baghetti.

1962

Unbeknown to many a third generation was already hard at work at Porsche and Ferry’s son, Ferdinand Alexander, who would also be involved with producing the 901/911, had been burning the midnight oil.

Porsche arrived with a whole new car, the 804, their first ‘proper’ single-seater design that owed nothing to their sportscars, and were probably expecting great things. Their previous car had looked ‘lumpy’ and heavy but the new one was svelte and looked the bees-knees. Ferrari, after sweeping the 1961 Championship firmly under the Maranello carpet, found themselves at ‘sixes & sevens’ after the ‘Winter Walkout’. Ferrari only entered six of the nine Championship-qualifying rounds and, despite scoring three podiums in the first three races, even Ferrari don’t enjoy talking about 1962.

But Porsche’s potential challenge was eclipsed by the British teams getting themselves together and both Coventry- Climax and BRM came up with brilliant V8 engines which just took over F1 racing. BRM, Lotus and Cooper won the first three races (one each), and took the first three places in the Championship, winning every event… except the fourth round – the French GP…

The front rows at Rouen were taken by Clark, Hill, Bruce McLaren, Brabham, and Surtees, with Gurney 6th… and is it odd that five of these drivers were soon to produce their own F1 cars…? Certainly the 60’s were very different to today. It was a very hard race, on the bumpy Rouen road circuit and, one by one, most of the field fell by the wayside but the ‘under the weather’ Gurney and his Porsche just kept going, and kept going, and lapped everyone else to score his first F1 GP win, and Porsche’s only victory. Gurney would go on to score Brabham’s first victory, and also the first for his own Eagle car…

The following week Gurney also won the non-championship Solitude GP, at Stuttgart (with Bonnier in 2nd), and later put the Porsche on Pole in Germany, and raced long and hard with Hill and Surtees, in a rain-soaked race, until having to accept 3rd place, with four seconds covering all three… but, at the end of the year the factory pulled the plug. Allegedly Porsche felt they couldn’t make their air-cooled engine as powerful as the British V8s… or they found it all too expensive… or the Porsche dealers were unable to sell sportscars on the back of F1 success… but it also seems Ferry Porsche was simply not a great supporter of F1…

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De Beaufort continued to run his 1960/61 cars for a couple more years, and that was it… but, in just two full seasons, and seventeen races, this small racing effort won 1 GP, recorded 1 Pole, and scored 4 podiums – it wasn’t great, but it had been enough to justify staying longer…

Jo Bonnier moved to Rob Walker’s private team for a couple of years, without much success. Indeed, without his 1959 Dutch GP win for BRM, his was not a great career… but he lasted for sixteen years in F1, and frequently stood on the podium of non-Championship races.

Bonnier was more successful in sport-cars, twice winning the great Targa Florio, the 12 Hours of Sebring, a 12hr. race at Reims, the 1,000km of Nurburgring, and Montjuich, and at Montlhery, and finished second at Le Mans… which was also the scene of his death, in 1972, after a horrible crash spun his car over the barriers and into the trees.

Dan Gurney found an ideal niche for himself with Brabham where, in three years, he scored 2 wins and eight further podiums, before founding his own All-American Racers, and his Eagle car. Apart from one win, and a further podium, he experienced continual engine problems, and far too many retirements.

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Previously:

8th March

9th Jordan

10th Shadow

11th Toleman

12th Toyota

13th Alfa Romeo

14th Sauber

15th Arrows

16th Stewart

17th BAR

18th – Surtees

19th – Lola

20th – Dallara


 
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