Daily F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 15th May 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day

Is Pirelli’s decision legal?

This is a question for our regulations expert, commentator rpaco, who can help on this.

Pirelli has decided to change the tyre specifications. Their reason is that the number of pit stops in Barcelona last weekend was too high.

In a press release, Paul Hemebery says, “After evaluating data from the first few races this year, we’ve decided to introduce a further evolution as it became clear at the Spanish Grand Prix that the number of pit stops was too high.

This decision is controversial, because in 2011 Vettel won the same race with 4 stops, and the total number of pit stops for all teams was 77 as compared to this year’s 79. (There is some debate over the number of stops this year, with the highest count at 89 – however, it is similar).

TJ13 has been attempting to contact Pirelli all day (and we are accredited with them for all press releases) to ask on what basis this decision has been made.

Article 12.6.3 of the FIA technical regulations state : “Tyre specifications will be determined by the FIA no later than 1 September of the previous season. Once determined in this way, the specification of the tyres will not be changed during the Championship season without the agreement of all competing teams.”

I’ve heard it suggested today that the teams’ agreement is not necessary, because there is no Concorde agreement in place. Yet, this appears to be a spurious explanation.

What I will say is that in my experience, Paul Hembery is a man of complete integrity. I further know that Paul has plotted his way through a most difficult path with regard to the negotiations over Pirelli’s contract for 2014 and beyond.

Paul has dealt more than competently with Ecclestone and FOM – without attempting to manipulate the media  – where negotiating with these people is akin to entering a pit of vipers.

Ecclestone is of course using the current media hype over the tyres as leverage when dealing with Pirelli over the extension of the tyre supply contract. However, TJ13 firmly believes this is not the reason for Pirelli’s decision.

The picture that is emerging tonight is that the teams have indeed been involved in the discussion over the changes that Pirelli is proposing, and that the basis for the agreement to change the 2013 tyres compounds is to be found in the need to reduce the number of failures seen so far this year.

It has been specifically agreed that, in reality, the tyres will not be clones of the 2012 issue, and it was noted that, should the 2013 tyres remain as they are now, only Silverstone would see tyre degradation similar to Barcelona and potentially require 4 stops.

Anyway, we shall see. But it is highly unlikely that Pirelli have broken the regulations regarding tyre changes without agreement of the teams. It may be quite entertaining to find out what each team thinks it has agreed to, once we see the tyres in Canada.

Renault upset and demand a meeting with Ecclestone.

Reports emanating from German F1 media are suggesting that the future for Renault in Formula 1 is ‘less than secure’. There is a meeting between Ecclestone and Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of the Renault, planned this week. On the agenda is Renault’s relative lack of exposure in F1. Since withdrawing from running a works team in the sport and becoming solely an engine supplier, Renault has found that they have lost a significant amount of advertising presence.

untitledThis, of course, has not been helped by Infiniti becoming the title sponsor of the world championship winning Red Bull Team. Renault’s problem is that they are neither a title sponsor, nor are they an engine-supplying works team like Mercedes or Ferrari. Yet, they argue that they are spending an amount of money on the sport’s development similar to a midfield team.

They are unhappy they do not have the same equal rights or influence to a works team,  with regard to the Concorde Agreement and the rule making. Furthermore, they receive no income from FOM, and Renault apparently doesn’t have anywhere near the same allocation to invite guests to the circuits as the teams do.

There is apparently a veiled threat that unless these matters are addressed, Renault may withdraw from F1 altogether.

So another headache for Bernie – roll on the peace and quiet of a Munich court eh Mr. E?

What is slightly bizarre about this, and which may not be apparent to everyone, Carlos Gosn is actually CEO of Renault and Nissan. Furthermore, and stranger, he is the CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which is a strategic partnership overseeing the two companies through a unique cross-shareholding agreement.

So…Infiniti have stolen Renault’s limelight???… and… Renault are upset by this???… and… I feel a spirit of Schizophrenia descending upon the  courtroom. Want my advice Bernie? – CASE DISMISSED.

Bar Exam

As we’ve had no correct answers for last week’s bar exam here is a clue. The cars in the pictures were raced between 1952 and 1990. Only one of the cars in the photos won a race, and it may not be the most recent one.

Honda to announce ‘this week’.

In almost a byline, the Kyodo News Agency had this to say overnight:

“Honda Motor Co. has decided to return to Formula One racing in 2015 as an engine supplier to the automaker’s former partner McLaren of Britain, people familiar with the plan said on Wednesday. Honda President Takanobu Ito will officially announce the move as early as this week, they said. 

The company plans to supply new engines with small displacement”.

Source: @F1Elvis

Source: @F1Elvis

Marko Watch With big bad Dietrich in town throwing the substantial weight of his wallet around, demanding F1 sits up and take note, poor Helmut has been somewhat upstaged. TJ13 has compassion for those that are downtrodden and oppressed (cf. Christian Aid week – Christian Horner that is) so this is a sympathetic Marko Watch today. In his quest to oust the Aussie driver, Marko has shown utter commitment to the cause and is credited as the source of the chatter about Kimi going to Red Bull in 2014. This hype has meant that the progression of a charging young Toro Rosso driver this season is under most people’s radar.

The field of international diplomacy is nothing if not complex, and often power brokers will trade a spy for a spy, a POW for a POW and a hostage for cash. Marko is nothing if not a self-afware creature who learns from the environment around him.

untitledHe bravely strides into the outback, and in a move designed to demonstrate to all Aussie F1 lovers that he is not anti (auntie) Aussie, he tells The Age, ‘‘In general we are happy with both [TR] drivers. Ricciardo is currently the better one.”

In all seriousness, TJ13 was critical in 2012 of JEV, and highlighted the relative strengths of his team mate on a number of occasions. This year, it is looking great for Daniel and now that Toro Rosso appears to have mastered the tyre challenge in Barcelona (and then they get changed…)  his 7 points lead against JEV’s 1 may grow quickly.

To be fair to Jean Eric, he has been forced to retire in 2 of the first 5 races, and he may flourish as the car develops.

But for now, the first quarter is complete – and in the Toro Rosso battle of nationalities, it’s a score to nothing in favour of the land of convicts, but there is no sign at all of any white flag from the Frenchie.

Who and when?

There is a debate going on in the comments section and someone suggested they hoped a team would go for a radical design for their 2014 car – akin to the Indy Cars of the late 1990’s. Well, here are two of them so you can visualize what the commentator means. Who are they and where were they racing?



Ecclestone is now indicted

Suddeutsche.se is reporting today that the Munich prosecutors have formally filed charges against Bernie Ecclestone today. There are 2 offences: bribing a public official and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty. Unusually, the charges have been translated into English and may well appear in publication this week. No date for a hearing has been set yet.

The Munich newspaper appears to be enjoying the novelty of the occasion. The article observes that there are three truly global sports; football (soccer), the Olympics and Formula 1, and never before has the head of any such entity appeared in the dock on corruption charges.

Further news on this matter can be found in yesterday’s Daily News and F1 Comment.

UPDATE GMT 14:55: Certain media sources are capriciously suggesting a certain Christian Horner is well placed to step into Bernard’s shoes. The Guardian, “the favourite would be Christian Horner, the most successful team principal of the modern era; he has won three double world championships in the past three years and is also closer to Ecclestone than any other team boss”.

Hembery attempts to quell fears of favouritism

Speaking to Speedweek, Pirelli director Paul Hembery has moved to suppress fears that the proposed changes being made to the 2013 F1 tyres are due to complaints from Red Bull.

“I know there are concerns that the change will help some teams and punish others. But we are convinced that this is not the case. This change has nothing to do with Red Bull’s criticism — certainly the criticism from some in the media was considerably harsher”.

Commenting on the lack of criticism from Lotus and Ferrari, Paul continues. “They developed [their cars] more in the mechanical direction than aerodynamic, but we do not believe that by making this change, they are going to be disadvantaged. We certainly hope not, although there’s always a risk. We are still going to be fairly aggressive in terms of choosing the compounds.

Red Bull never officially came to us and demanded change, which is important for people to understand. It is by no means certain that this is going to help Red Bull, so people shouldn’t be so quick to assume that.”

In a surprisingly brief comment to Bilde, Christian Horner believes Pirelli is doing this out of self interest. “Ultimately this is in Pirelli’s interests. They had to do something for their own image.”

UPDATE: GMT 13:12 Speaking to Sky Sports News, Paul Hembery promises there will be no delay in providing the teams with the relevant new specifications. “We’re going to give teams a lot more data tomorrow. We’re finalising the precise specification. Really, it’s a little bit of a mix of what we’ve been using this season and some of the structural stuff we had last season – which will help minimise the impact for the teams.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of work to be done on aerodynamics and tyres can impact on that – the way they deform – so teams will be keen to have that data asap so they can all start working towards Canada. From an aero point of view, that can have an impact. That’s why we’d like to give them something that they’ve used a little bit in the past – so they’ve already got some data.

It’s also probably as well the way the compounds will work with the car: they’ll be less aggressive from some points of view which will slightly modify the strategy of how they use the tyres during the race.”

A visible difference at Ferrari

Stefano is looking busy, efficient and effective at each race weekend. He appears to have a new lease on life, and the traumas of discussing the failing wind tunnel and the lack of progress on the F2012’s aero development must be a distant memory.

I suspect we are about to see him come out fighting, and maybe even soon will be handing out the odd pointed lectures on ‘truth, justice, and the Italian way’.

In front of the assembled masses yesterday in Maranello, he was punchy and self assured, yet in in a humble kind of way he described the team’s performance, “In Barcelona we won… without ifs and buts… we won fair and square”.

The anthem played and the rallying cry began to build. “It’s always nice to come together at moments like this, but it’s important not just because of the result pure and simple. We have won two of the five races so far, but we can do more. [music enters a quieter bridge section] For people like us, who always aim for the maximum, it’s hard to swallow having missed some opportunities”. 

Clearly the fierceness and furore of Mateschitz and his bludgeoning giant wallet does not phase Stefano. “We are doing a good job, but we will continue to concentrate on ourselves and on the challenges that lie ahead, aware that if each one of us does our job perfectly then we can do well.”

The crescendo grows, and Stefano moves to reclaim the virtues that the Germans clearly stole from Ferrari – meticulousness, punctuality and efficiency. “The aspect of the Barcelona weekend I was most pleased about was that we started our post-race meeting at 17.15, just as planned, and at 18.30 we were still there analysing the data in detail: that’s the right approach, the right attention to detail and the right working method. That’s what I expect to see right to the end of the season. Our strength comes from all of you who are here today under this roof.”

There’s not a dry eye in the house. This clearly was rhetoric of the order of ‘fighting them on the beaches’ or even ‘peace in our time’. Stefano cleverly embodied the advice of Thomas Jefferson perfectly knowing that “speeches that are measured by the hour will die within the hour”. (A more contemporary version of this maxim states, “A talk is like a woman’s dress. Long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting”).

The folks in Maranello heard but one voice, one message and will act united, as one. ‘This is our time’ was the message, ‘plain and simple’.

Someone’s phone rings. Most inappropriate indeed…

Yet the plea for the earth to ‘ swallow me up’ is short-lived. The communal embarrassment evolves quickly into a smattering of fateful smiles, as the assembled faithful recognise the aptness of what is being played through the humble 1 watt speaker. Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of  Nietzsche’s much overused saying brings to a conclusion the perfect sojourn… in the logistics shed… on a sunny afternoon… in Maranello.

A tale of two drivers (plus 1 on the fence)

The new system of penalty points has had a mixed reception with the F1 drivers.

Felipe is laconic in his opinion on the matter. “From what I’ve read, I do not think it will be very different from what we’ve seen so far. Drivers who cause trouble will be penalized more than others. Personally, I do not think I have any problem with this new system. “

Romain Grosjean speaking to French Media RMC Sport is unsurprisingly in favour of the procedures and reflects had they been in place in 2012, “do you think I would have lost my license?” He adds,If the process is clear, why not?  Now it is the stewards decision… like in boxing or judo… they are making arbitrary decisions”.

In the other driver camp is Sebastian Vettel. As a veteran of the sport he believes, “Maybe I’m a little too old school. I think we risk losing points for incidents that would not be entirely our fault … We are not drivers… we are racing drivers. “

Currently Red Bull, Williams, Toro Rosso and Lotus are opposed to the implementation of a driver penalty point system. However, at present this would only need the FIA to implement it due to the lack of Concorde agreement and this could be in place for 2014.

Of course because the teams do not agree, Jean Todt may choose do nothing, as he stated on the issue of the RRA he expects unanimity from the teams before he will consider legislating.

Lewis gets new keys

Lewis has been doing what he loves the most, besides walking his dog, and last night was working for one of those evil masters of the universe – a sponsor. He was co-hosting a Blackberry event last night with Alicia Keys and appeared to be loving every minute of it.

untitledHe tweeted this picture to his 1.538m followers along with the words, “Much love Alicia. Keep doing your thing”.

TJ13 thinks they look a lovely couple and she’s so talented… and a lot closer to Lewis age group.

Then again Nicole has her talents too. She was voted the 9th best dancing artist by Rolling Stone in 2011. She also has a very long real name: Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente

For those of you who scoff at such matters, its most important for the lovely Lewis to get this right otherwise it may cost him $100m dollars.

If you want my advice Lewis, I’d stick with Roscoe and get myself a competent clerk like Miss Zargosa.



50 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 15th May 2013

  1. I cannot remember someone holding a gun to Renault’s head and forcing them to end their works commitment, so their current gripes appear a bit weird to me.
    Ferrari and Merc have much more exposure, because they have much more commitments in F1. The don’t only supply engines, they also run full-fledged teams.

    I can’t the believe that the ‘Vettel win with four stops in 2011’ myth is again rehashed. Both Schumacher and Vettel have won with 4-stoppers in the past, but back then it was a strategical option, not a necessity to cope with excessive tire degradation. Back then they pushed the car hard in between stops to overhaul the 3-stoppers. On Sunday most drivers still had to dawdle about like old men in Volvos despite making four stops. Most of them hardly managed a dozen laps before the tires went completely off and that was the hardest compound Pirelli has to offer. Also the frequent spectacular failures threatened to turn into a PR disaster for Pirelli.
    My stepfather has a garage and since March people are switching back to summer tires and “But please no Pirellis” is a request he’s gotten with growing frequency. So I think a change of tires will make sense for Pirelli. Lotus will probably fiercely object, maybe Ferrari, too but just about every other team will be in favor of that.

    • ‘Vettel win with four stops in 2011′ myth

      At last a post that says it as it is. No matter how some people try to convince others that these tyres are good for racing, the plain truth is that they’re NOT. Now whether changing them mid-season is appropriate, that’s a different matter.

      RE Renault, I agree that they only have themselves to blame. The fact that Newey is also at RBR doesn’t help either. Their engine is regarded as the weakest and when Honda come on board their engine might become 4th best. And when Newey retires as Allison moves in, RBR might not be at the forefront anymore. They try to position themselves for the next 5 years knowing wins and titles will be slipping from their grasp and they haven’t been making the most of it until now.

      • Back in the day when we had more than one supplier, mid season tire changes were the norm as Goodyear & Co improved their tires. It’s not like Pirelli is going to bring a radical new design they merely aim at reducing excessive wear.

      • Did they really make the most of it after 2005/06? They let their best man slip away and didn’t manage to build another car that good until this season.

      • We’ve always had the case that some teams and drivers can ‘turn on’ their tyres better than others. Even going back to the days of a set of tyres having to last the whole race you still got some teams who were easier on the tyres and some who had to take it easier to get them to last.

        To me, this argument comes because some teams have done a better job of matching car to boots and those who have got it wrong are making noise.

        If someone has designed a car that takes so much from the tyres that you can only push for a limited time then that is their problem. What is going to happen in future seasons where teams are only allowed a limited amount of fuel? Someone designs a car that isn’t so fuel efficient so they need to cruise for half the race – will then make as much noise about that and get a bigger allowance, thus disadvantaging the other teams who have got it right?

        There is always something in the rules that holds the designer back from designing the fastest car possible. As long as all teams have the same criteria to work with, the success should go to the team that does the best job, not the team that shouts loudest when they get it wrong.

    • “I can’t the believe that the ‘Vettel win with four stops in 2011′ myth is again rehashed.”

      It was this reason – 4 stops – Hembery gave for the change they are making – hence the focus and attention to history.

      On a lighter not, and if I may go off topic – your honour – I’m fascinated by the surname Schoneberg. Is it a derivative of Schoenberg per chance?

      I ask because as a young man I studied at the feet of one named such whose forename was Arnold.

      His work – I must say – ‘struck a chord’ with me indeed.

    • Exactly, having 4 as an outside strategy that may just work vs the way half the field are running is quite different. The ideal is 3 stops for me, with the potential for conservative teams to make it two, agressive ones to do four, and Mercedes to do 17 😛

      Seriously though, the counter argument of ‘well if thats how many it takes to run full pace, then do 5-6-7 stops’ also wears a bit thin… they don’t have enough tyres to do that without not running during practices, or qually (which then hampers them, with no tyre (or heavily worn tyre data!) and a terrible grid position, and we are also alledgedly we are all about getting cars running during all sessions. O.K, I get it, it is a balance, part of the skill, but still, the initial argument isn’t really valid, and I do think a revision between 2012 and now will be a better compromise.

      Having said that, it is hilarious that everytime RedBull mention the stops needed it seems to grow by one, so Monaco what do we reckon, Marko saying we needed 9-10 stops?

  2. judge – I can’t bring myself to type the dreaded P word any more, so I’m going to ask a question on a different topic;
    What are your thoughts regarding which drivers will flourish or flounder in the new upcoming 1.6l turbo era? I would love to read an opinion piece at some point on that subject if only to rest my tire weary eyes… 🙂

    • I’m not the judge, but I’ll offer my opinion on it.

      I would be surprised, if we would see any significant change to the pecking order due to the tire type. After all today’s turbocharged engines aren’t the scary nigh-on undrivable turbo-lagging contraptions of the 80’s. Engine and turbo development has made a lot of improvements in over 20 years.

      The really interesting question will be if all manufacturers arrive in the same ballpark in HP figures or if any team dares to significantly change the shape of the car. I would love if someone would dare to get rid of the hideous airbox and go for something akin to the late 90s CART machines 🙂

      • engine type, sorry, not tire-type. force of recently acquired bad habit :S

  3. Schoenberg is a not uncommon name in Germanyland and Schoeneberg is just a less common variation of it. There’s also a district of Berlin going by that name. I worked there for Alcatel in 2005 which led to funny telephone exchanges as I have the habit of stating my surname only when picking up the phone:

    me: Schöneberg
    customer: and you are?
    me: Schöneberg
    customer: and you work in?
    me: Schöneberg 🙂

  4. I still make the mistake of calling the Lotus team Renault – if you sell your birthright for a mess of pottage, you only have yourself to blame!

    • “mess of pottage” – fabulous phrase.

      To get Bernie’s blessing on the transaction, I wonder if Lopez deceived him by strapping on some goat skins to fool Mr. Big’s ‘fading faculties’.

  5. To be fair to Ricciardo he too retired 2/5 races.. Australia and Malaysia …despite classification in Malaysia.

    • Good point Cc

      Sorry I have to ask – are you the person who is always copied into emails – but never the first intended recipient?

      I suppose it could be worse, you could be BCc and therefore clandestine and voyeuristic of the intended recipients correspondence 🙂

  6. so if Renault were to leave the sport…
    could it be (a purely hypothetical situation) BMW return to make the RBR engines; with Nico Hulkenberg replacing Webber to make an all German super team. Surely Dietrich and Marko would be happy then?

    • RBR is an Austrian team. 😉 I can’t see BMW returning anytime soon. They’ve just 2 years ago setup a rather successfull DTM operation, too. Their big advantage was, when they could still go bonkers on engine development and were the first to rev of 20.000. I can’t imagine them being too fond of the highly restricted engine parameters of 2014.

  7. Well the red car definitely is a Target Chip Ganassi Reynard-Honda, judging by the helmet it could be Alex Zanardi and the poor sod in front of him could be Bryan Herta in his Rahal Reynard-Ford diving down the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, in what judging by the car design could be 97 or 98. Unlike 1996 though, he didn’t get the raw stuffing beat out of him in the last lap 🙂

    • DS Great effort at the picture quiz, but wrong, wrong and wrong.

      And even though I didn’t ask the year… that too was indeed incorrect 🙂

      • Well the Ganassi car cannot be wrong, that paint scheme is hard to miss. The other one shure looks like a Rahal car to me as Miller Lite was traditionally a Rahal sponsor. They didn’t get the #7 before 1997, so it should be post ’97. In 1997 Herta was in that car, the year later he switched with the Boss, so in ’98 it was Rahal himself. Since you said that 97 and 98 is wrong, the driver must be Max Papis as he kept the car until after 2000. The number on the Ganassi looks like a #4, in which it can only be 1999 as they had #1 in 2000 because the man in the picture is Juan Pablo Montoya and won the title that year.
        The track beats me – could be everywhere,

  8. If we are returning to last year’s tyre construction, does that not give McLaren an opportunity to bring back last year’s car … ?

    • That is a thought, what impact will this have on the design of the 2014 cars? Surely the teams need some idea what tyres they will be working with to be able to design the car?

      Although of course we don’t actually know who will be supplying the boots next year anyway, thanks to Bernie..

    • Just as a matter of curiosity, does anyone know how this year’s McLaren compares with last year’s for qualifying times and lap times? Is it slower this year? Or has everyone else just got faster? Likewise with Mercedes. I don’t remember it being wonderful at qualifying last year, but it had reasonable race pace. This year just disappears into the distance, in the wrong direction. 🙂

    • Do you think Mercedes may adopt the chrome color when McLaren drops it?

      I think the chrome and petronas blue/green would look good. It would actually bring that step in shininess that last weekend was suppost to. I don’t know about anyone else, but the W04 looks pretty similar on the tv.

  9. It might be a silly comment, but Lewis said that they would need to look into everything around tyres, even how they prepare them before the race. Could this actually play such a big role? I can see how it can be a contributing factor though.

    • Considering the pace in their car, and the abysmal result in the race, it very well may be. Perhaps Lotus just has a fantastic conditioning (hardening?) procedure they run through.

      I’ve suspected maybe Mercedes aren’t preparing the tires right for a few weeks now.

      • maybe Merc need to recruit Vidal Sassoon for conditioning pre-race…get it…joke?…no?…I’ll let myself out now

  10. With regards to the proposed penalty points system, is anybody else relishing the possibility of a number two driver being asked to take the points on behalf of their ‘spouse’, a la Chris Huhne and Vicky Price?

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