Daily F1 News and Comment: Saturday 11th may 2013

It’s unlikely this page will be updated today as I have 2 rather major sporting events to fit in and a fair bit of travelling too.

Spanish GP – Spanish politics

Artur MasRecently the president of the Catalan region, Artur Mas stated “If Valencia can host the Grand Prix in 2014 there will be alternation [between Barcelona and Valencia].”

Speaking on local radio, Salvador Servia, the man in charge of the Circuit de Catalunya suggested this would be a mistake. It appears there is some pressure on him to deliver this because he also observed that to rush this deal through this weekend would be a mistake.

Clearly there are advanced proposals for the alternation to take place because Servia remarked that a this weekend was a difficult timescale to achieve this. “The contracts are 200 pages long and so if we must alter them this needs to be a thorough exercise

He continued giving his opinion that he felt many of the race sponsors would not be keen on the idea of the race alternating between the 2 cities.

Yet, if the regional funding Catalunya gives annually to the race were to be cut by President Mas then there appears to be little option but to alternate because falling numbers and rising prices have made the race in Catalunya even less sustainable without the government support.

Di Resta tyre failure

Pirelli may well have hit a problem with the construction of the 2013 tyre. Yesterday, in FP2, Paul di Resta stopped his car out on track following a tyre failure.

Unlike previous failures on Massa and Hamilton’s cars, this was a new tyre just 6 laps old as the Force India driver was early in a long run race simulation. There is no suggestion of debris and Pirelli are quiet at present investigating the cause of the failure.

Team Representative FIA Press Conference

This was a most lively affair (Zzzz) because we had a group of engineers from Caterham, Williams, Marussia, Ferrari, Red Bull and Force India.

It appears that once again a lack of attention to detail blights what should be a flagship press occasion organised by the FIA. Numerous empty seats were evident and the cardboard box of a temporary room provided by the FIA must have been set up half way down the main straight as the GP2 cars were persistently and irritatingly buzzing past on the audio.

James AllenJames Allen was MC and as tradition dictates he asked the opening round of questions. Of all those from the media who chair this event, James is one of the best. He began by asking Mike Coughlan how things were going since the win Williams had in Barcelona last year.

A more uncomfortable interviewee you couldn’t imagine. Mike looked as though he wanted to be anywhere other than there. He stuttered and Err’d and Umm’d his was through some answer suggesting ‘disappointment’ – shifting consistently in his chair and blinking rapidly whilst diverting his gaze from both the camera and James.

Good job he wasn’t asked whether they could repeat 2012’s feat on Sunday because he may well have pulled out a gun and shot himself there and then.

Allen then asked about testing and whether there should be more of it. Tombazis and Newey kicked this upstairs to their ‘bosses’, but Dave Greenword from Marussia said, “as long as it’s in a measured and controlled way – and not a free for all – maybe it would be something that would help us to catch up if we had a little more testing”.

In TJ13 news on Thursday we reported the teams had voted 6-5 against more testing and as I suggested Marussia were clearly now the only FOTA team to have joined the others.

One more matter is worthy of mention and the rest I’ll condemn to a cure for insomnia.

Mark Smith of Caterham revealed that the car they have been running was only 30% of the final car they would ordinarily attempt to launch in February. This begs the question, what was the other 70% – some fantasy of a designer or a car they found in the staff car park and chopped up to fit with the 30% they’d completed.

Heikki Kovalainen - Circuit De CatalunyaMore interestingly he downplayed the Heikki factor enormously. Speaking about FP1 in Bahrain he said, “there were some minor setup changes we were already considering, and err…umm… Heikki.. endorsed those independently… so that was useful”. He continued and described Kovalainen’s contribution twice more as ‘useful‘.

I made it through to the questions from the floor when some clown from a publication with about 20 words in its name demanded each engineer tell us specifically and individually each upgrade they have brought to Barcelona.. it’s concept… how it has proved to work… construction techniques and any other trade secrets they could possibly divulge.

Tombazis said he was not playing and Newey drawled that the truckloads of new boxes arriving at the Red Bull garage were, “to keep the boys in sandwiches”.

I then decided to play chess… with myself… in my head; and after another 25 minutes when everyone had trooped off… I was surprised to discover that in fact… I’d won.

Chess Player - Cartoon

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3 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Saturday 11th may 2013

  1. I haven’t seen these latest conference affairs but… my god… they continue to appear unbelievably amateur… I feel obliged to ask: who instigated them? Why? For whose benefit? and… with all the millions these people (drivers as well) earn, and control, why do they all appear unwilling to take part…?
    Why are they prepared to shame themselves by an inability/unwillingness to answer questions and an unpreparedness to answer the most obvious questions…?
    Sure beats me…

      • Hi 8M… I agree with your point… although… I’ve known many very voluble engineers.
        Part of my point is: if people are required (we don’t seem to know, by whom…) to perform in this way they can be easily trained to improve their presentation. It seems to me that Mike Coughlan could have ‘expected’ such a question, and been ‘prepared’ for it. Would it have been so difficult for him to have simply said: ‘Last year was special, this year we’re still working at it…’ – i.e. nothing to see here, move along please. And no loss of face…
        Somebody in each of these huge corporations should be aware of media interaction. It’s not a new art. John Cleese was successfully running such courses back in the 70-80’s.

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