Daily F1 News and Comment: Sunday 26th May 2013

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Mercedes Testing Row

TJ13 observed during the Spanish GP that the vote on no testing whilst conclusive 6-5, was not overwhelming and predicted there will be temptation to ‘re-interpret’/break away from agreed testing rules.

Today there is a row brewing over Mercedes having run a 3 day 1,000km test in Barcelona since the race. It appears Pirelli may request a team to lend them assistance in this is what happened.

Experimental tyre compounds were used in the test, both for 2014 and to replace the current 2013 dry tyre range. It is believed the FIA knew about the test and gave a nod of approval.

However, Red Bull and Ferrari are considering protesting Mercedes to the FIA. Monaco wouldn’t be Monaco without someone threatening to protest. Anyone remember what last years hot potato was?

Paul Di Resta Monaco 2013 © Sahara Force IndiaForce India criticised by Di Resta

It was a miserable day for Paul, as he failed to make it out of Q3.

In changeable weather conditions it became apparent that there was a window of opportunity during the last 5 minutes of qualifying to deliver a run on dry tyres. To that point all the drivers had been using the intermediate tyre.

Caterham were the first to realise this opportunity sending out Van De Garde on dry tyres with 5 minutes of the session remaining. Interestingly it was HIS call to attempt this strategy.

Ferrari had sent Alonso out on new intermediates but on his first flying lap the call was made to abort and pit to take on super soft tyres.

Force India and Di Resta persisted on worn intermediates which clearly had lost most of their grip and the inevitable then happened. Afterwards the downcast Scot described it as “most painful” qualifying day of his F1 career.

“I don’t want to say too much because I’ll probably say something I shouldn’t,” he said. ”We didn’t read the conditions well enough from the pit wall and by the time we did it was too late.

Vijay Mallya issued a public apology to his driver. “I would like to apologise because Paul was incredibly quick and we missed our chance.”

However, in F1 the best drivers appear to be aware of changeover conditions and either call for new tyres or are questioning the team about the situation. Gary Anderson of the BBC said of Paul, “I don’t think he should point the finger so easily”.

Therefore Di Resta has to shoulder at least some of the blame.

Renault Confirm Toro Rosso for 2014

This is probably the worst kept F1 secret for the past 2 months. Toro Rosso and Ferrari are parting company for 2014, though it is not clear which side pulled he plug. It has been rumoured that Ferrari did not wish to give Red Bull information about their engine via the sister team.

Renault Sport F1 © RenaultRenault Sport F1 issued the following statements.

Jean-Michel Jalinier, Renault Sport F1 President: While it is logical we would discuss supplying Toro Rosso based on our partnership with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, it was not a foregone conclusion. We carefully considered what is best for all parties before concluding the agreement. Toro Rosso is a well-run, established team, with strong personnel and facilities giving the team the potential to be a regular points contender.

Renault remains involved in F1 to win and demonstrate the excellence of its products. To achieve our aims we need to have teams functioning at the highest level, which is why we are delighted to sign with Toro Rosso.

Off track it will also enable us to further promote the association with the Red Bull brand to our customers worldwide. We look forward to creating a long and multi-level relationship with Toro Rosso, just as we have with Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

Franz Tost, Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal: We are very pleased to have reached an agreement to use Renault power units from the 2014 season onwards, when the new regulations will present interesting challenges. It is particularly important that we have managed to finalise our plans early, so that we can be as well prepared as possible for next year. While looking forward to working with Renault, I would also like to thank Ferrari, our engine supplier since 2007. They have provided us with an extremely effective and reliable engine and an excellent service.

Christian Horner, Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal: Strategically for Red Bull and Renault, it makes perfect sense for Scuderia Toro Rosso to use the same power unit as Infiniti Red Bull Racing from the 2014 season, which enables synergies between Red Bull and Renault to continue to grow.

Caterham have announced they will partner with Renault in F1 as they continue to develop their joint road car programme.

Mercedes and Williams close

Toto Wolff concedes the two parties are in detailed and final discussions that should result in Williams becoming a Mercedes engine customer in 2014.

“It’s clear that we are losing an engine customer in 2015 and for Mercedes it is important to have a regular business case so it is important to have at least three customers from 2015 onwards. That is why we are having certain discussions with teams and Williams is one of them. It would be for 2014.”

Helmet Row

Sebastian Vettel Monaco 2013 Helmet © Gawker Media 2013FOM lawyers have been attempting to prevent Kimi from using his Monaco James Hunt tribute helmet. They were claiming that it was marketing for the upcoming film ‘Rush’ and that the onboard camera would be featuring the advertisement.

Apparently Bernie Ecclestone has intervened and sanctioned Kimi’s head protection.

Conversely, Sebastian Vettel had a helmet design that had a scantily dressed woman on the rear. As the heat within the cockpit, her clothes would disappear revealing her cmpletely naked breasts. This had now been banned by FOM.

Button unhappy

It appears this was a day of highs and lows. Button following a Q3 session which saw him suffer a loss of power said on the team radio, “That was it guys. Our best chance and we blew it”.

Is the MP4-28 so bad that Monaco was the only realistic chance Button could see of a result for him and the team?

Jenson was obtuse in the drivers’ press conference when questioned about CEO Neale’s comments offering him the chance to stay with McLaren ‘as long as he wishes’.

Jenson said, “I don’t want to think about the future too much at the moment. I think that yeah, you’ve got to live for the moment and I don’t think that trying to agree a lengthy deal for the future is something that is interesting at the moment for me.

I’m 13 years in the sport, I want to have freedom and that feeling that if it doesn’t feel right any more: stop. But I definitely don’t feel that yet. It feels that it is going to be a long way down the road. For me, that freedom is important in the future”.

Grosjean rattled

Eric Boullier ©It may be my imagination, but for this years Monaco event there seem to be a lot more marshals deployed at the first corner, Saint Devote.

Whether this was for the crashfest that was the GP2 race 1 or for Romain’s perpetual brushes with the barrier – I’m unsure – but good call Charlie W!

Eric Boullier told SKY reporter Kravitz that following his French driver’s excursion into the wall in FP3 he had put his arm around him… and shouted “WAKE UP”.

Interesting idea. Angry Eric.

Pirelli on the Barcelona test

Speaking to Adam Cooper, Paul Hembery of Pirelli explains, “We have an agreement with the FIA that states we can do 1000kms tyre testing. It’s something that we had back in the World Rally Championship as well. Last year we wrote to the teams saying this and inviting teams to say yes or no, whether they were willing to do it. Some teams said yes, and some didn’t reply.

Mercedes were approached because they were one of the teams who responded. Pirelli are in talks with another team to do additional testing of the 2014 compounds in the near future.

Paul explains why other teams who are now upset were not informed. “The issue you’ve got is it’s our testing, it’s our work, and what you see is the more discussion you have, the less you manage to achieve. If you start talking about it you end up six months later actually doing it.”

It involved all sorts of tyres… Let’s turn it round the other way. What do you expect us to do? The rules are very clear, it’s existed in the FIA contracts for years, and we just used it. We’ve got nothing else to add.”

“We go into laboratories, we do a lot of work. We’re doing our job. They don’t tell us what they’re doing. Every team will have the same opportunity at the same time when we introduce something, and that’s it.”

So, Pirelli have no contract with Ecclestone, they want $150m for a 7 year supply contract and now they’ve upset some big names in F1. I’m starting to think 2014 may see F1 without Pirelli.

Red Bull have lodged a formal protest before the race, which means they are asking the FIA to consider excluding  Mercedes from today’s race. They could have waited until after the race to protest and the implications would be different.

Still the fact the Silver Arrows have been on pole for the three previous race weekends means it wasn’t exactly a surprise they have locked out the front row.

11 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Sunday 26th May 2013

  1. Mercedes 3 days test is just unbelievable. Both Pirelli and Merc come out of this looking extremely bad. If one of the Mercedes win today it’s going to now be completely over shadowed.

    • Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the reason. Pirelli wanted to stunt Red Bull, but Merc turned out collateral damage. So they’re giving Merc a chance to claw back, getting them nearer to the goal of hindering Red Bull only.
      Serial winners are bad for business, so just like with Ferrari 2005, the tires were used to slow the dominant team down. Unfortunately they did wreck Merc’s performance, too and this test is notjing but an attempt to rectify the issue.

  2. Paul Di Resta is fast becoming a moaning driver.. blaming everyone but himself for failures. Perhaps he will be a good fit at Red Bull Racing as that seems to be the way they operate. On the other hand, He may well find himself with a bad reputation and nowhere to drive.

    • Yes, but Ferrar did that test with a 2010 car. The issue appears to be not the fact that the test took place with Mercedes, but because the test was with a 2013 car. According to the testing agreement, tests with 2010 cars are allowed.

  3. It seems Ferrari did the Pirelli test with a 2010 car, Mercedes with the 2013 car, i think that’s not allowed.

  4. Clearly Pirelli were doing the test for safety reasons…. Vettel’s safety as I think another year of him winning easily would ruin him forever, lol. Did you see the way he looked at Nico after he congratulated him? Lock up all the sharp objects I say.

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