Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 11th June 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day GMT 13.15 15:00 16:08 16:44 16:55 17:35 18:01

All’s well that ends well

Following the huge recovery job during the race on Sunday, Sahara Force India have not denied rumours of tensions boiling over following the poor qualifying by Di Resta on Saturday.  The 27 year old Scot had been highly critical in a very public manner, which reportedly angered a his trainer and team mechanic.

The masterful performance to make the prime tyres last for 56 laps saved his weekend.  The Scot said, “Looking back, I don’t think I was too harsh.  When you work with the team so closely, it’s good to have that heat because you need to show your emotion.”

Force-India-VJM06_07

This confident showing by Di Resta is a far cry from the figure he portrayed whilst being beaten by Nico Hulkenberg, at the back end of last year.  A strong character is, of course, paramount for working in a top team, so if Mark Webber does decide to leave Red Bull, Paul is doing himself no harm by showing some fight.

Allison exit not to blame

Following a poor showing from the Lotus team, team owner Gerard Lopez has refused to pin the any of the blame on highly-rated technical director James Allison leaving.  Whilst speaking to Finland’s newspaper Turun Sanomat, he snapped at these claims, saying, “This cannot be accepted.  For Silverstone, I expect us to be absolutely as strong as we were before Monaco.”

He stated, “He (Allison) is a good man, but he’s not god”.  If he is, as many reports have suggested, going to be joining Red Bull; and the ‘give you wings’, does that make him an angel then?

He continued by rejecting claims that Kimi Raikkonen was growing frustrated by the performances, saying, “Everything is perfectly ok with Kimi.”

“Just got stuff on my mind”

Very poinient words from Lewis Hamilton after replying in a rather blunt fashion to his engineer giving him instructions whilst being ‘hunted down’ by Fernando Alonso.  Lewis stated, “I don’t settle for anything but the best and wins; I still haven’t got a win, Nico has won a race, so I need to get a win”

We all remember 2011, when Hamilton had a lot on his mind.  Towards the end of 2012 and start of this year he has looked like a very calm and collected individual, when he seemed to have written off much chance of the Mercedes being a top line car.  Of course now though, the pressure is on following Nico’s win, so this will be the first true test of Hamilton’s character since his switch to the Brackley based outfit.

Ferrari – Leopards and spots

We all love a good gossip, and this weekend has seen the chatter from the F1 paddock media speculate that that Jean Eric Vergne following his excellent drive and 6th place finish  is now in line to drive for Red Bull in 2014. Yet earlier this year all the talk was about his Australian team mate, particularly following the ‘multi21’ debacle.

You can argue stereotypes have some merit because if they were so far from the mark, they would cause instant amusement and then be forgotten, they only gain traction due to at least a grain of truth being seen in the stereotype presented. (cf. British mother-in-law jokes).

There are some of the stereotypical views of our beloved Italian F1 friends which have some validity. The glory of being Ferrari (which is indeed a glorious thing) at times has appeared at times to cloud their collective view of what pragmatically should be done.

For example, the failure to confirm Felipe as their 2013 driver seemed to be a political matter during latter half of 2012 for a variety of reasons. Alonso had been promoting Massa’s cause during Singapore and Japan and then Il Padrino knocked him down a peg or two telling him to ‘but out’ of the Ferrari driver debate and focus on winning the title.

Yet was there really another option for the Maranello team?

I’m not surprised to hear the fickle paddock media chatter about Massa being replaced in 2014 following 3 incidents in Monaco and Montreal which probably caused about $4m of damage. Yet, this is clearly nonsense because the number of issues which will involve a change of variables for the teams in 2014 is most significant.

The last thing a top team is going to do is change a driver without serious cause, and if they do it will be for someone with a wealth of experience like a Kimi and then the list of names then becomes rather thin.

Dominicali is absolutely clear on this matter. He tells Brazilian publication O Estado de S.Paulo, “If Felipe keeps going as he has been, I do not see any problem for the future. As far as our drivers go for 2014, I’m calm, this is one of the easiest decisions to be taken for next season.

What is complex is the technical challenge we face with so many changes. We will arrive early next year with so many unknowns and only three tests before the start of the season, so there’s no guarantee we will understand everything.

Whilst people may discuss this [Ferrari driver lineup] relentlessly, everybody knows that Fernando has a long-term contract and Felipe, despite all that is said, is still with us.”

Dominicali was then asked specifically whether Massa will still be with Ferrari in 2014, he was adamant in his reply, “Absolutely.”

Who says a Leopard can’t change it’s spots? This kind of catagoric assurance will give Massa confidence, which may be important if Ferrari covert a shot at either title in 2013.

Wind tunnels to go?

TJ13 has learned that the current discussions over testing regulations include a restriction of other resources. In a trade for 4 lots of 2 day in season tests, the bigger teams may have agreed to limit other areas of expense which are killing the smaller teams.

Whilst yet to be concluded it appears the teams with wind tunnels will agree to reduce the amount of use substantially, if not all together eventually, and for a team like Force India this clearly means they will be better advised shifting investment towards CFD.

We reported yesterday that Force India’s $75m wind tunnel programme was stalled and it may be they choose to now choose to cancel it all together.

Dominicali calls for Pirelli criticism to stop

TJ13 is indeed happy today. Last night in the comments section last night my joy at hearing someone from F1’s mainstream media agree with the message I’ve been preaching since Sepang.

Gary Anderson wrote on the BBC website, “Jenson Button said that the lap time McLaren decided to do was far too slow – and when he pushed he could still keep them alive. Well, maybe the teams are just trying to be too sophisticated with the tyres”. AND HERE IT IS…. “Maybe the drivers should just drive the car to the limit more”.

Today we have another esteemed witness in the courtroom of F1 opinion agreeing with another TJ13 2013 polemic. Speaking with O Estado de S.Paulo he says that the new Pirelli tyres have reduced the risk of damage to their “extraordinary F1 toys. It is our responsibility to accept the tyre challenge without complaint”.

Stefano then turns his attention to the F1 TV media and states, “They need to explain to viewers what is happening out there,” and why the car leading on track may not be on course for the race victory. The problem is at times our commentators haven’t got a clue what is going on. When Brundle et al (UK SKY TV) tell viewers that the bits of paper he has to record the number of pit stops has space only for 4 and his co-commentator chimes in, “this is just too much”, this hardly inspires confidence from us toward them.

This kind of rhetoric is lazy and requires our esteemed F1 pundits to get with the programme. If they can’t work out the possibilities that are evolving during the race then it’s time to retire and let those younger with greater mental agility do the job. The betting sites displaying the ‘in play odds’ are pretty close to the mark, so maybe a laptop with that screen open would help clear the fog for them.

Dominicali concludes by calling on everyone involved in F1 to stop criticising the sport because it becomes, “tiresome for our fantastic fans. We should be sending a  positive message to them. Every Sunday is now different with more pit stops, the races are more exciting and now with this format we have to work differently and be dedicated in our attention”.

(A burst of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus blares from the courtroom public address system. There is a resounding bang of the gavel and I declare) FORZA FERRARI!!!

Polls

Here’s a poll Ferrari have been running on their website since the beginning of May. This is the state of play today

untitled

Ill Padrino – alive and well

Luca has been strangely quiet this year to date. Tending his olive trees and ensuring the vineyard is cared for. Now it is time for the Italian summer weather to do it’s part, before the regular bumper harvest in the autumn. Today Luca announces to the world he is still at the helm of Ferrari and F1… and probably the FIA too – when he writes on Ferrari.com.

“I do not wish to comment, but I note with satisfaction that the Federation is following this incident well. Let’s hope Formula 1 can maintain its professionalism and we have faith that those who attempt to circumvent the regulations are pursued and prosecuted, or rather more prosecuted than pursued”.

If you are working at Marenello, it may be too early to grin with glee as he continues, “As for us, we (read I) know exactly what we must do to win, between today and tomorrow, I will hold a long and detailed meeting with Domenicali and all the engineers: they know what we must do to improve and I am convinced that right to the very last race, Ferrari will be competitive and a contender, that we will not give up and that we have all the elements in place to improve”.

Mmm. Here we go again. Maybe the ‘Leopards and spots’ piece was a little premature.

Pirelli

Paul Hembery has been asked why Red Bull are still complaining about tyres. “They have been strong, but some of the comments are very difficult to understand when you look at the performance. Maybe some other teams might have a reason, but you are leading the championship, and still complaining?”

Even in Canada it appears there have been chunnerings from senior people from the Milton Keynes team as Hembery elaborated. “You win the race and I have seen some complaints again here [in Canada], and those sorts of things are not helpful.”

Following Stefano’s call to order, it could be Marko, Newey, Horner and the boys are now in a minority of 1.

Find the perjurer

TJ13 was surprised to read that Sebastian Vettel didn’t know they would only be testing the Pirelli proposed new rubber in Canada because this was indeed reported by TJ13 during the week following Monaco. Speaking to Autosport last Thursday he said, “As far as we learned, we would have had different tyres for this race [Canada], and then during the week we found out that we won’t, which I don’t understand, because I think the points that we tried to make clear from a driver’s perspective were based on safety”.

At times the things F1 teams miss is incredible.

Anyway, Sebastian is claiming he has never criticised Pirelli tyres except on grounds of safety. When asked why he was the most vocal critic of the Pirelii 2013 tyre compounds he replied to SKY, “Well, I think it’s pretty simple, The criticism we had or I expressed was not based on performance.

I think it was based on safety and I’m sure if you ask other drivers, maybe they weren’t that strong in the press, maybe they think they have an advantage with this sort of tyre, but we had some occasions this year where the tyre suffered delaminating, the top layer came off for not exactly known reasons, probably debris but you will always have some pieces on the track”.

Are you sure Mr. Vettel? Here in the courtroom we are not so sure this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so its time to hunt the perjurer.

Here’s a starter for you, BBC website, 22nd March 2013. Vettel says, “I hope we have enough tyres to survive the race”. Benson reports, “The world champion said the fast-wearing nature of the tyres meant that their performance was the determining factor – not that of the car itself”. Vettel adds, “You end up going around way under the car. It’s not a lot of fun but that’s the way it is.”

And why do you go around “way under the [ability of] the car” Sebastian? Because it is unsafe?

At least Sebastian is consistent in his criticism of Pirelli. Prior to the 2011 season opener he told Servus TV, “The problem is the tyres wear down too fast. They are only good for 16 or 17 laps, then they start to break up and are ruined, then the driver doesn’t have a chance. The feeling when driving is different and that is a pity for us.”

It may be a pity Sebastian, but is it unsafe?

Anyway, over to you TJ13 readers. What else can you discover?

Williams join McLaren in Formula e

Today it was announced that Williams Advanced Engineering division, which seeks out commercial applications for F1-based technologies, would be the sole supplier of battery technology to the new Formula e.

Sir Frank Williams said, “This is an exciting new racing series that will play a key role in highlighting the growing relevance of technologies originally developed for motorsport to the wider world. Energy efficiency is an important issue for Williams and whilst our work in this field is now spanning a number of market sectors beyond racing, motorsport will always be the ultimate proving ground for our technologies.”

McLaren announced back in November they would supply engines, transmission and electronics in conjunction with Spark Racing, who are part of consortium that will design and assemble the 42 race cars required.

Last week Formula e officially announced Beijing are on board as a host city and back on May 16, TJ13 reported Bangkok had agreed to also be one of the 10 cities that will host Formula e. Further, we commented then on whether this would impact on F1’s Thailand opportunity, which since then appears to have suffered a significant setback.

~ by thejudge13 on June 11, 2013.

20 Responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 11th June 2013”

  1. I think you the title should be ‘Tuesday’ Your Honour!

    “If he is, as many reports have suggested, going to be joining Red Bull; and the ‘give you wings’, does that make him an angel then?”

    I love those quotes. Coupled with Kimi’s quotes and Lewis’ quote in the race, this year turns out to be quotiful!

  2. On the subject of Ferrari and Massa. Domincali said Massa “will be there” but he did not say he will be a race driver ;)

  3. Your Honour,

    You may appreciate this analysis by former McLaren mechanic, Marc Priestly of the difference between di Resta’s Canadian GP versus Button’s race, http://bit.ly/11t8QUh .

    Mr. Priestly points out that the smaller team, Force India successfully managed the tyre degradation issue by leaving it 100% to Mr. Di Resta in the cockpit. In contrast, McLaren managed their tyre degradation issues by determining goal laptimes, and feeding these goals to the driver during the race.

    • In other words, let the driver race and let them know when he needs new boots?

      Could also be there way of letting Di Resta do what he needs and if he messes up its not the team’s fault ;)

      • Don-san,

        I believe you may have a misunderstanding of Force India’s tyre management tactics for di Resta in the Canada race.

        My understanding is that FI let di Resta determine when it was appropriate to change tyres, not the other way around.

        I apologize in advance if I’ve misunderstood your post, btw.

        • No thats fine Vortex – what I meant was that FI is saying they let Di Resta decide, probably because he keeps on blaming them when things go wrong (tyre call in Monaco for instance).

          They probably thought, ok, we will let you make the decision then and see how you get on. It obviously worked.

          Or maybe I am just reading it the wrong way but Di Resta seems like a grumpy and difficult person to work with.

      • 100% agree with drivers deciding the tires. At some point you have to accept some level of responsibility for the race you’re driving. Button’s performance in Canada is solely down to himself, if you’re seeing everyone else sail off into the sunset you have to phone in to a team and say “this isn’t going to work we’re going way slower than everyone around us”.

        We can all laugh at Hamilton and Vettel’s off the cuff comments like “I can’t go any slower” and “But satisfaction” but its a good tongue and cheek way of saying that the race engineer got it wrong.

        • From where both McLarens qualified the only chance of a result was to let the drivers do their best with what they had available. Both are known for being kind on the tyres, why not let them see how far they could eeke out the life at what they felt was a good pace? If it meant an extra stop was needed then they’d be no worse off than those around them.

    • While Canada (like the Spanish GP) will viewed later as a turning point on how the teams manage these tyres, I think both Don Quixote and 1500quidporsche highlight something more important (but often overlooked), which is the relationship between a driver and his team.

      F1 is a massive enterprise. Each team has hundreds of engineers, and many commercial deals worth large sums of money. Each race weekend, a team straps some young guy in to the fruits of these efforts, and then watches as the driver flings their machine around a track, inches from catastrophe, lap after lap.

      The key in that relationship between (the senior members of) the team and the driver, is how well does the team understand and trust the talents of their driver?

      In the case of McLaren, based upon what we saw in Canada, one could say the team places little trust in the skills of Button to manage his tyres. McLaren apparently had three options to manage tyre degradation, 1) give Button a lap by lap guide of the laptime to turn, 2) give Button a goal of how many laps to have tyres last, 3) lay-out primary and alternate strategies pre-race, and then have driver become the primary manager of tyre deg from the cockpit.

      Apparently McLaren chose option 1 for Button, Mercedes chose option 2 for Hamilton, and FI chose option 3 for di Resta.

      – – – –

      Eyebrows have been raised by Di Resta airing his disappointment of his team’s execution during qualifying for both Monaco and Canada.

      I see four causes for di Resta’s public frustrations. First, the team including di Resta acknowledged that (overall) these were errors that they don’t want to reoccur.

      In addition, there are underlying tensions, as it’s possible that both the team, and di Resta, are concerned about being able to continue in F1. Di Resta’s abilities are highly rated by some in F1. Unfortunately for him, he was not able to dominate his team-mate last season. Some say that he was beaten, others didn’t see much between them. Di Resta needs to make his talents stand out this season. He has had some strong performances so far, and he looked good in practice at both Monaco and Canada.

      Force India is a small team with budget issues (highlighted well at this site), who have been clever to produce a car that is much friendly to these tyres. FI need to maximize their points early in the season because other teams will better manage these tyres over time. And yet, the team failed to execute well in qualifying two races in a row.

      More importantly, (beyond those tensions), it’s critical for a driver, and a team, to establish a strong relationship that drives everyone to higher performance levels. Di Resta (like all drivers) speaks and works directly with his team behind closed doors. His public statements are a relatively small reflection of the team dynamics. For di Resta to succeed, behind closed doors he will want to help everyone to raise their game and refocus on the common goals that they all share. If that is not happening, we’ll learn about it later.

      However, one could argue the relationship between di Resta and FI is stronger than what most other drivers have given how FI chose to manage their tyre strategy at Canada.

      • Hi Vortex, re your McLaren strategy comments, I am reminded of Hungary last year I think it was, when McLaren switched Jenson to a 3 stopper due to “tire wear” and ruined his race. When they called Lewis to switch his strategy as well, his reply was along the lines of “sorry couldn’t hear you” and he kept on going. As a result he stayed on his original strategy and won the race, while Jenson finished a woeful 5th or 6th (though I’m sure he’d be delighted by that this year). They made that call based primarily on telemetry, yet it was clearly incorrect, as Lewis aptly demonstrated by ignoring his team in favor of reality (which said data does not always accurately depict).

        There will always be a dynamic tension between the plan that is drawn up for the race and what happens when the lights go out. The problem these days is that far too often the boffins see this as a checklist to success, rather than as a general and optimistic outline of how the race may go. If your driver calls in with the rears going off and 6 laps to make your target, don’t leave him hanging losing 6 seconds a lap, you’ve got gigaflops a second calculating power, get cracking and come up with something helpful. Likewise, if your carefully calculated delta is seconds off the pace, maybe you should just tell your driver to race and sort it out on the virtual racetrack while you don’t drive backwards to a non points position.

        It’s a tricky thing to get right, but I feel that too often (especially with these tires) the drivers tend to defer to the pitwall a little too much, and then gripe afterwards (or not, depends) if it didn’t work out.

        And yes, Jenson is getting a mite defensive these days.

        • “And yes, Jenson is getting a mite defensive these days”.

          He’s getting his butt whipped – that’s why

          • Even worse, it’s starting to become obvious who pulled McLaren out of the development doldrums last year. That’s got to grate on him a little.

            “So if I’m not faster than my teammate, and I’m no good at development, and they pay me lots and my teammate has the sponsorship of the world’s richest man” yeah, no fun to be inside his head at the moment. the only thing he’s got going for him is he’s besties with MW, but I only see that lasting till they can replace him.

          • “…the only thing he’s got going for him is he’s besties with MW, but I only see that lasting till they can replace him”.

            Or until MW is replaced.

    • Looks like another case of McLaren overcomplicating a situation. Over thinking has become a precursor to McLaren’s doldrums at the moment. 2013 car redesigned rather than brushed up, 2012 pitstop errors, now tyre strategy… Add that to missing a lot of WCC crowns in the last 15 years. McLaren only seem to be able to produce a great car every other year since 2001 – 03, 05, 07-08, 10, 12. Hopefully 2014 is not compromised by the focus now placed on 2013, either that or the successful development team are working on 2014 while the less successful dev team will persevere with this car. Looking at 2007-8, the car should have been an evolution before a major rule change.

      While up to 2008 was a manufacturer era, now there is only Red Bull spending more than the top teams – Mercedes look to have increased their spending to match the top teams and possibly be second to Red Bull. No wonder car dev is going this way – RB, Ferrari, Mercedes in Montreal was the speed order in the race, with Mercedes faster in qually. Meanwhile, Lotus is now falling back gradually as they lack the spend and McLaren are split to move forwards with a hard development road. One thing I wondered – maybe McLaren’s stiff porpoising-like suspension is incompatible with the passive active suspension that the top 5~ teams are now using? That, and driving slower than you actually could have..

      • Just wanted to add a quick note on this comment string regarding the team’s performance on the pit-wall, as a couple of things came up in the last 24 hours.

        Most recently, on Peter Windsor’s “The Racer’s Edge”, during a detailed and candid interview of Valtteri Bottas on his Canadian GP weekend, (http://youtu.be/Mj8y7-OPHLg , VB starting at ~minute 21), as he started discussing the changing and damp conditions during the three qualifying sessions, he said this about his team:
        “Also the team did a really good job, always. I was out on the right tires, the right tire pressures and everything, always, and had good track position when the track was good, always.”

        The interview is interesting, and provides a bit of insight on how driver and team work together to maximize their respective performance.

        About 24 hours ago, James Allen published an article on his blog which provides good insight into McLaren’s pit-wall. (http://goo.gl/fb/zUJVc )

        Marussia let James sit on their pit-wall during the Saturday P3 session, with radio access to listen to both driver’s channels, plus the intercom messages on the pit-wall.

        He describes the software tools and data they have, and mentions that Marussia obtained their software from McLaren. It’s an educational read.

        The two points being, first in the case of Bottas, one of the reason he felt he was successful in qualifying at Canada was due to the performance of the team in making the correct calls, and the team’s good preparation. Contrast this with Force India and di Resta in Monaco and Canada. There are many things that can go wrong, and it’s impressive when it all goes correctly.

        Second, the software that McLaren (and Marussia) have is immensely impressive for providing the real time data needed for the quick decisions needed to be successful. With all that data available, it would be easy to lose perspective on how valuable your driver’s input can be to help the team make the correct live-time decisions in the race and qualifying. We should remember that the roots of Sam Michael’s career are data acquisition systems for racing.

  4. I do wonder how long the ‘Button has a home at McLaren for life’ statements we keep getting will last. I have a lot of respect for Jenson but he really doesn’t seem to be doing a good job here. Sergio seems to be doing a good job of keeping up with him and seems to me to be showing better ultimate pace.

    As for the last race, can you really see Lewis accepting being told to drive to a lap time? I’m actually surprised that Jenson accepted it – think back to some of his wins where he made the correct call on strategy. If the team were showing that their simulations and calls were bringing results then you could understand the drivers listening. However, this season we have seen there is just too much unknown. Especially considering the lack of dry running in Canada I just can’t understand them not letting Jenson manage things himself. I certainly hope they do in the future – after all, he couldn’t have come away with fewer points!

    TJ compares the McLaren season to when Ferrari changed their suspension. I wonder what the comparative results are – I get the feeling that McLaren are well behind what Ferrari achieved and they also don’t seem to be making the progress Ferrari made so there looks to be a more fundamental problem. Let’s just hope what they have done gives then a head-start for 2014. Even if it does, they won’t be getting good service from Mercedes so are unlikely to be at the top then, and Honda’s first season is similarly unlikely to be stellar.

    It is looking uncomfortably like McLaren may be fighting will Williams again in the near future. I only hope they can bounce back to the top…

    • Sam Michael the problem perhaps?

      • Good point. He had a good reputation at Williams but the results didn’t come, maybe he isn’t as good as was made out?

        • I was really surprised when he joined McLaren and I thought: This won’t be good for McLaren.
          He didn’t leave Williams without reason.

          And look where McLaren is.

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