Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 16th April 2013

More tyres and more drivers
untitledHaving sat his naughty boys down for a little chat following their first lap tete a tete during the race in Shanghai, Bob builder of fast cars has turned his attention to the bigger F1 picture. With the ‘support’ of one Mr. Bernard Charles Ecclestone, the assistant principal of the Silverstone based F1 team has proposed a motion to his peers (or I guess seniors – in case of those who bear the title ‘principal’) that they accept an extra set of rubber boots for FP1.

Pirelli – who are not yet sure whether they’ll be in F1 in 2014 – have given their consent to this idea and the ‘condition’ attached – from whom we do not know – is that this issue of additional tyres be for teams only who are prepared to allow ‘rookie’ drivers to participate in that session.

It appears this move is to solve a problem which most F1 fans don’t realise even exists. Apparently the number of cars running during the first 30 minutes of the first practice session of the F1 weekend is low. The reason being because the teams don’t wish to waste precious rubber preparing the ‘green’ track.

I saw one report suggesting that ‘many teams’ run reserve drivers in FP1 anyway, so what’s the big deal? By my reckoning – and I know the knowledgeable and intensely precise TJ13 readers will haul me over the coals if I’m wrong – only Caterham have done this so far in 2013.

I’m sorry, but there doesn’t appear to be any philosophical consistency to this proposal. If the issue is about more rubber for the track then why the condition being attached to use a ‘rookie driver’? Then, if the ‘rookie driver’ practice is so common place – again why make it a condition?

What we do know is teams can bolster their budget by charging drivers and their financial backers to run in FP1. The more track time they can offer presumably the higher the price they can command.

Anyway, the idea will require approval from all of Bob’s peers and seniors should it come into force for the race weekend in Barcelona – by which time more than 20% of the season will be complete.

Pirelli bow to pressure


Having been criticised in China for the durability of their soft tyre, Pirelli have bowed to pressure and changed the option compound they planned to use in Bahrain. The soft tyre has been replaced by the medium compound but Paul Hembery still expects the default strategy to similar to China, “we expect three stops per car, although we’ll have to wait to get some running in on Friday before we can look at the data and make a more accurate prediction.”

We’ll see whether changing the tyres already declared for a future event is a decision that will come back to haunt Pirelli. Of course we do not want tyre compounds with a delta differential of over a second because this reduces the strategic choices and makes the one compound into the  qualifying tyre and the other compound the race tyre.

If the precedent is now set that Pirelli can indeed change the tyre compounds after declaring their initial selection for a race – let’s hope if they find by the end of the season the teams are getting on top of the tyre compounds – and one stopping – they can mix it up and be less conservative without being accused of favouring one team or another in the title run in.

bahrain picI’ve said my bit today and will answer any questions from anyone – fire away. So no sermons coming here folks. However, just as I did with Vijay and Ecclestone and the F1 shares for the Teachers of Texas – the news around the F1 event in Bahrain will be published.

Also may I add that nobody will be censured no matter how critical they are of my views – unlike other journalists who appear to be offended when asked a few simple questions about their Damascus style conversion from an Anti to Pro Bahraini polemic. Hey Ho. Integrity and Professionalism huh?

A group of British MP’s have decided to write a letter to Bernie Ecclestone. The communique from the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Bahrain’ said,  “We request you cancel the Grand Prix. It is likely to attract as much negative publicity as last year.”

Andy Slaughter, chairman of the group writes, “Since April 2012, many more people including children have lost their lives and the whole country exists in fear and intimidation. Last year’s race was held under conditions of martial law. Three hundred protesters were arrested, some spending months in jail.

bahrain 2I think most democratic-minded people would be appalled if you allowed the Bahrain leg of the Formula 1 championship to go ahead amidst the most atrocious human rights violations.”

Reckon that’ll do the trick then… next up Barcelona.

Some of the teams have issued statements pertaining to the security measures they are adopting for their visit to the gulf state.

Red Bull: “The team will be vigilant and take sensible precautions, but otherwise we are approaching this race in the same way we do all races.”

McLaren: “The team will be staying very near the circuit, at a hotel that has very good security, and we feel that no extra security measures are therefore necessary for us.”

Williams: “We are adhering to our normal security measures in Bahrain and just using usual common sense, nothing more.”

Mercedes: “The safety of our employees is our highest priority and we will follow the guidance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) concerning travel to the region.

I’m hearing that Allah hath judged the iniquitous Bahraini’s with an earthquake…. wait… see twitter can be misleading.

Having had time for proper investigation it appears the truth is actually the reverse. Many suspect that the trouble makers in Bahrain have been sent in by the Iranian regime to steal their oil and stashes from under their Persian rugs – so bizarrely it is in fact within Iran that the quake occurred – thus of course vindicating completely the Al Khalifa family in all matters.

Webber not signed to Porsche

Mark Webber

It appears to be silly week. I was brought up to believe it was “better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool – than to open it and remove all doubt” and I am indeed shocked at some of the blather certain respected F1 writers have been propounding recently.

Mark Webber and a 5 year deal to drive Porsche’s? – give me a break. Webber has spent some time in sports cars, but that was back in 1999. Anyway, here’s the definitive answer. Porsche’s Wolfgang Hatz says they have not signed Webber as they prepared to hit the test track later this year ahead of their World Endurance Championship assault.

“There is a test plan and for sure Mark Webber is not part of it. We can have perhaps some Formula One drivers in the future but it is not necessary.” Another spokesperson for Porsche has apparently told Bild, “Porsche has a squad of 10 highly sucessful works drivers, forming an excellent basis for the occupation of  the LMP1 cockpits for 2014. Mark Webber has not signed a 5 year deal with Porsche”.

So those who jumped all over Derek Bell’s opinion at the weekend that Webber had signed with Porsche may have been a little precipitous.

For those of you who don’t remember, Mark Webber’s previous excursion into sportscar racing was brief. After finishing as runner-up in the FIA GT Championship in 1998, he was lucky to survive an almighty crash at Le Mans the following year when his Mercedes flipped along the Mulsanne Straight during practice. Webber’s team-mate Peter Dumbreck suffered a similar fate in the race itself and Mercedes quit the series immediately.

18 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 16th April 2013

  1. The economics of a pay / rookie driver in P1 aside, the simple fact of F1 with the testing ban is that up and coming drivers don’t get any time in an F1 car to show at a diversity of tracks whether they have the skill to compete in F1. For that reason alone I’m in favour of the extra set of tyres.

    BTW. I did get a chuckle from Sawards response.

    • Hi Cav

      I tend to agree with you though I don’t know where I stand yet on this. I do think if it is to be done – then it should be mandatory and all teams must field their nominated reserve driver(s).

      Re Saward. He’s touchy today. I replied to his response – but he emailed me and refused to publish my questions on the grounds that “In the blog rules it says that ‘it is necessary to be respectful of others’, and that includes me. I found your comment to be massively disrespectful”.

      Oh well – call me a Gypsy’s lover and I’ll still publish you all… (swearing aside)

        • I think Joe’s having a rough day with some flashbacks he’d rather forget – Chai latte’s don’t sit well on his ulcer I’m told.

          • I pulled Joe up on being rude to one of his contributors and he shut down the comments section of his site for a few day then banned me from contributing. Totally amazed me to be honest!

          • I vaguely remember that. I used to read Joe regularly, but I got a little tired of his rants about ‘proper journalism’ and how the internet is ruining the quality of information we get about F1.

            I couple of people have told me recently that Joe is at times rather quick to censure views opposing him and does so by hiding behind the blog rules. Last year during a heated debate over the Bahrain matter – which to some people Joe’s published views are highly polemic – he apparently told a number of people to go and set up their own blog if they didn’t like what he said and refused to publish their comments too.

            Joe is a good guy at heart but struggles with the internet and the pace of 21st century information flows.

            He was brought up in an era when as a journalist you published (the one) and everyone else read (the many).

            As writers they may have received the odd letter disagreeing with their views but there was no real dialogue between privileged expert and the eager masses. So opinions were given and mostly went unchallenged. The internet changed all that.

            Interestingly I was involved in a bit of a discussion with a few people last week and one of them from the FIA was telling us the number of independent F1 writers like Joe has been dwindling year by year. There is apparently about half the number applying to the FIA for press accreditation than around 6-7 years ago.

            Anyway I’m rambling… good to hear from you Colin.

  2. Pirelli say that they had taken the decision to change the option tyre prior to the race in China (…if you believe that). But even if that’s the case, it means they still succumbed to pressure from the tyres’ performance in the first two races, the criticism was there from day 1.

    • Hey – by Japan, Korea and Abu Dhabi – we’ll all be gagging for a race like China… with a driver tearing through the field in the last 5-6 laps..

      I suppose when Ecclestone’s got you over a barrel on contract renewal the temptation is to try and please everyone – or at least diminish some of the voices of criticism.

      • In my experience a situation like this always ends in tears…. for Pirelli that is. Mr E will get them to tap dance to his music (as falsely as it may be) and when the time comes to sign on the dotted line he will have Hankook, Avon, Kenda, Continental, Dunlop … all of them tearing the door down to expose their brands to the markets..

        • It’s of course always possible – but I suspect Pirelli will get another term but the deal’s commercials will be squeezed to the bone for Pirelli.

  3. TJ13 – In one of your Bahrain articles, you said “Journalists who were turned away in 2012 at the border are reporting they are being allowed in.”

    Who did you have in mind? Who was it that was refused last year but has been allowed in this year?

    I don’t recall any F1 journos being turned away last year.

    • It was a tweet from Ian Parkes that sparked my memory of the press ban. He tweeted yesterday… “Well, they’ve let me in! Will I get out again! Haha!”

      If I remember correctly most if not all of the regular F1 Journo’s were allowed in it was those who cover F1 on more of an occasional basis that were denied entry.

      I remember Stuart Ramsey of SKY being denied entry, and I think Andrew Hammond of Reuters was also not granted a visa… as was Simeon Kerr who works full time in the Gulf for the FT.

      There were a number of others from countries and publications I am less familiar with who were also turned away when they landed in Manama.

      • Thanks for the reply. IIRC, It was Byron Young, Kevin Eason and Ian Parkes who turned “warned reporters” and went in search of the “action” in the Shia towns. There were then heavy hints from those in power that they would not be allowed back in to Bahrain in 2013 unless they stuck to the designated F1 areas.

        They should try getting a visa to enter China on arrival, or try covering troubled areas in China without a minder or prior permission. An example of procedures in China as discovered by Adam Cooper:

  4. Am I being really nieve, but over the whole Bahrain thing, it seems to me, brazil is a more dangerous place for the teams and china’s human rights records, well what can I say, makes think of the quote ” when god does something bad he moves in mysterious ways, when the devil does the sae thing, he’s bad, it’s all down to publicist.” I Think the same discrepancies apply to world media and what countries do regards to human rights and how dangerous it is.

    Ps on a different note, your website can be a bit hard to read on an iPad, but then again I might just need glasses :).

    • Hi Jamie – love the god and devil analogy. Will remember that one for sure.

      In Lewis speak this could though be problematic – because for the homies – bad is good???

      Try glasses, if not we have a new platform coming soon and hopefully we will sort issues out that are less flexible with our present platform

  5. I like the idea that MP’s think if they write a nicely worded letter to Mr E, then all of a sudden he’ll have a change of heart. Bet you none of those take any interest in f1, and are just jumping on a bandwagon. Idiots.

    Thinking about it, I remember watching Question Time, last year, and some woman politician (can’t remember who) wanted “the British drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton to not do the GP (becuase it’s the decent thing, etc)” No mention of Di Resta then. Obviously her researcher did a rubbish job. Or just racist against the Scottish.

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