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F1: Not for Porsche
Porsche have had some pretty good publicity over the past week or so with the rumours that Mark Webber had signed a 5 year deal to race their new LMP1 sports cars when the return to the sport in 2014. The iconic sports car company has also been suggested along with others as possible entrants for F1 when the new engine regulations come into force.
The cost of developing the V6 Turbo’s has been significant, but the current V8’s are practically a decade old and it was time for F1 to move on. The hope within the FIA and senior echelons of the sport has been that manufacturers will see a greater relevance in the crossover of these power trains to the road cars they produce.
The FIA hope that the new V6 engines will be a platform that can be adapted across other racing series and then the manufacturers will greatly benefit from a larger production run and recoup investment costs quickly and efficiently.
It would appear that any hope of Porsche entering F1 has been dashed today. Speaking at today at the Shanghai motor show Wolfgang Hatz (Director for R&D and Head of Engines and Transmissions Development) commented, “We are a sports car company. Porsche has always lived for the transfer of racing to production cars. For that reason it was clear two or three years ago that we had to be back in high-level motorsport, and it was a choice between top-flight sports cars or Formula 1.
“But the final decision was the only logical one. F1 was an alternative, but the road relevance is not there. Also, there is a lot of publicity around politics and tyres, but not so much about the engines and chassis. The aero, too, is incredible, but so extreme that it cannot result in any development in our road car understanding.”
Porsche are entering the top category in sports car racing, the LMP1 series, and their car will be powered by a hybrid power train. There has already been some technology transfer between the race car and the Porsche 918 Spyder due to go on sale later in the year.
Earlier this year at the L.A. show Hatz when asked about the future of the ‘gasoline engine’ replied, “In the past 10 years we introduced turbo direct injection engines which I think was a big step, we have started with the first full hybrids but I think the next step will be plug in hybrids.”
A plug in hybrid (PHEV) is a hybrid electric vehicle with rechargeable batteries that can be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an external electric powersource. PHEVs have a much larger all-electric range when compared to conventional gasoline-electric hybrids, and also eliminate range anxiety associated with all-electric vehicles, because the combustion engine works as a backup when the batteries are depleted
Not many people expected Porsche to enter F1 as a full blown works team, but there was hope they may attempt to produce an F1 power train thus evoking the glory days when they manufactured title winning TAG engines for McLaren.
That hope fades somewhat following Porsche’s declared commitment to hybrid performance engine technology.
Release the beasts: Maldonado and Grosjean rejoicing?
There was a meeting in Paris during the winter break to discuss the proposed systems of sanctions for drivers over stepping the mark. Various ideas had been suggested and one being a points system for various offences with a maximum number of points a driver could accrue being set prior to them receiving an automatic race ban.
Reports are emerging today that the meeting was attended by team bosses, drivers (inc Vettel of course), El Presidente, various stewards and Charlie Whiting. The proposal apparently shifted from discussing a system for penalising the drivers to a debate on whether the drivers were being too heavily punished. It was argued that if this was the case the drivers would be discouraged from wheel to wheel racing.
Further, it was noted that all drivers should be treated equally. There was a feeling that the sport’s big names were not being punished for certain transgressions yet those further down the grid and less experienced were being sanctioned should they commit similar offences.
No word has been given to the F1 viewing public of the final decision taken and this begs the question – has there been a noticeable shift in race stewarding and if so with what resulting effect?
For me – even as an alleged Mark Webber lover – I was surprised at the lack of sanction for his driving in Sepang. The incident during the race when Webber guided Vettel toward the pit wall had overtones of the Schumacher/ Barichello incident in Hungary 2010. Yet on balance the Webber/Vettel episode was less severe and it didn’t seem to breach the ‘one move’ rule. Finally, the fact that Vettel did not end up in the wall is evidence Webber did leave him a car’s width room as required by the regulations.
It is the manoeuvre which followed the chequered flag that was problematic. Vettel was coasting along the pit wall celebrating with the team and Webber cut in front of him at speed. This was clearly deliberate and possibly dangerous.
The precedent for this was at Spa in 2011 when as Maldonado drove past Hamilton on the wind down lap following Q2 he swerved his car at Hamilton’s and was deemed to have done this deliberately. He received a 5 grid place penalty and started from 21st instead of 16th.
This weekend too maybe Webber got away lightly in his duel with Rosberg. Coming out of the pit lane Webber was under pressure from Nico and ran deep into turn 1. He clearly cut across Rosberg in turn 2 to prevent him overtaking and the cars collided. Webber was issued with a reprimand after the race when in reality these kinds of incidents in the past have received drive through penalty as standard.
What do you think? Has the stewarding been visibly more relaxed this year? If so, is this a good thing or does having to re-establish what is acceptable and what insn’t just confusing for the fans and drivers?
Are there any other incidents you have seen which appeared to go unpunished in 2013 by previous stewarding standards?
Christian Aid week.
Having his authority usurped by a mere driver has left our dear friend Christian feeling as though he is still on top – but now on top of a bonfire about to be lit.
TJ13 wants to bring the humanity of Christian to you the readers this week in our series – ‘Christian aid’. Hopefully Christian will remember with rose tinted spectacles all the good times before he sold his soul to Red Bull and found a young German driver’s foot squarely on his neck.
Ok. This is more Buffy than buff.
We all hope the romp in the park for Sebastian would mean that was the last we heard from Christian about fragile Pirelli tyres particularly when considering Red Bull claim he could have two stopped. Apparently not, ahead of the meeting today in Milan where Pirelli are discussing whether to alter the tyres APP agency is reporting Horner to have said following the race, “I think the tyres are still on the edge”.
There is a theory doing the rounds that it was in fact the extreme heat in Bahrain that worked better for the RB9 than any of its competitors. Yet it is more likely that the Sakhir circuit particularly suits the Red Bull and Vettel was able to exploit the situation better than anyone by gapping the field and running in clean air.
Reghardless, if anyone is expecting wholesale changes to the tyres they will most likely be disappointed. Whilst Well Pirelli have made no statement as yet but it is clear there is no intention to make any significant changes to the 2013 compounds. Paul Hembery is quoted by Speed Week today as saying, “the teams should expect nothing new”.