Daily #F1 News and Comment: Sunday 2nd June 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day

Ferrari rattled by FIA probe

TJ13 reported yesterday that Ferrari were also under the disciplinary hearing committee’s microscope. However, Maranello appears to be irked by this turn of events.

They like Mercedes performed a ‘secret’ test with Pirelli, the only difference being the car Ferrari supplied was from 2011 and their driver was Pedro de la Rosa.

Yet the FIA on the day ‘testgate’ hit the news in Monaco, issued a statement making it clear that the year of the car supplied was not the only potential illegality and other rules may have been broken.

A Ferrari spokesman said today, “In reference to the numerous comments and interpretations circulated in recent days, Ferrari does not wish to make any further comment”.

He however does continue and comments, “The situation is rather straightforward [and has been] from the moment that a team broke what is a very clear regulation. The fundamental question refers to the compliance with article 22 of the sporting regulations, which does not allow the use of a current or previous year’s car for any kind of testing carried out during the season.

This is the only substantial aspect. Everything else is irrelevant detail.”

If that were the only matter for the FIA to consider, it would have been case closed by now – so clearly other factors are being taken into consideration and Ferrari will look rather silly should this result in them being sanctioned from their own protest.

Red Bull make it clear they are not criticising Pirelli

Something is going on behind the scenes. Pirelli call a teleconference at 4 hours notice, most of the mainstream media miss it and during the initial presentation doe by Paul Hembery he makes it clear he is not happy about the protests made over the Pirelli tyre test with Mercedes.

Pirelli were due to introduce the new spec tyres in Canada, but TJ13 believes they reversed this decision due to the protest made regarding breaches in the sporting regulations. Without unanimous agreement from the teams the planned introduction in Canada would be another possible breach of sporting regulations.

Red Bull are keen to see the revised 2013 tyres introduced because even though the surface compounds will remain similar to those currently in use, the return to the Kevlar based tyre will give them some aerodynamic benefits.

According to Helmut Marko, it was 22:00 on Saturday following qualifying in Monaco when he first heard the news of the Mercedes test and he then spent a number of hours getting together the relevant information to see if he had missed something.

In the rush to demand the FIA investigate, Red Bull may have overlooked the fact that the result of their protest would stall any imminent introduction of the revised tyres, subject to the FIA International Tribunal (IT) – a possible 45 day process – which as yet not even begun.

What has happened over the past eek is the FIA have asked Mercedes, Ferrari and Pirelli to answer some questions, and following their deliberations on the responses, the matter may be referred to the IT.

Yesterday Christian Horner wrote to the FIA and copied in the other teams. The letter stated, “For clarity, our protest is not against any third party supplier (including the tyre supplier) as it is the clear obligation of the entrant, irrelevant of any supplier contract, to comply with the Sporting and Technical Regulations, which in this case were clearly breached.

For any competitor to have the benefit of running a current car with current race drivers with tyres that are to be used in the current World Championship is an enormous and unfair advantage for both performance and reliability and in our opinion totally unacceptable.”

It may be once again that Christian and the Red Bull team have been precipitative. This letter was written prior to yesterdays Pirelli teleconference and during that event Paul Hembery made it clear Mercedes did not test any current 2013 tyre or any revised 2013 tyre proposed for FP1 in Cananda.

This appears to be Horner et al desperate to tell the world that they aren’t criticising Pirelli and at the same time are hoping to direct the FIA in their investigation.

Gate bolted… horse gone – methinks.

Hankook: Impossible to supply F1 in 2014

TJ13 asked Paul Hembery on Friday whether from Pirelli’s experience of joining the sport it was indeed now too late for a new supplier to set up a factory, tool it out and deliver tyres for testing in the winter for use in 2014. He replied, “Yes”.

Today Hankook’s DTM competition engineer Michael Eckert confirms it is too late for them to be considered as a supplier for F1’s 2014 tyres.

He told AutoSport, “For 2014, it’s completely impossible not only because of the lack of tyre development time. Even if Hankook wants to take three, four, five years to jump into Formula 1 as a supplier, the lack of testing opportunities would make it impossible.

With the current cars and drivers, it’s impossible [to test] so you need to find a suitable number of vehicles and drivers that would allow you to get some reliable feedback.”

3 ‘impossibles’ in one comment! Looks like its a no from the South Korean tyre manufacturer then.

Eckert continues, “Even if we started this year with the first tyre test, it would take easily three years until you can finish a safe and performing F1 tyre. Now the regulations are changing; engine formula, chassis, and aerodynamics… nobody even knows about the dimensions of the tyres for 2014 – they are still not fixed.

“It’s not 100 per cent certain they’ll continue with 13-inch tyres… it might be 15 or even 17. It could happen in the next five years that F1 cars are on 18-inch tyres.”

So unless Michelin feel a tad more competent in moving things forward, it looks as though the anti-Pirelli in F1 brigade could be stuck with them as the official and exclusive F1 supplier for some years to come.

Bernie said it was a done deal in Bahrain, however Pirelli haven’t yet got what they require which suggests their outstanding issues are with the FIA.

25 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Sunday 2nd June 2013

  1. Seems to me like Michelin could, at worst, just make the same tires they did in 2004 (or whenever they last were in the sport). They would work. I’d say that is The Silent One’s trump card In this little game.

  2. Without being a tyre expert, I’m pretty sure that Michelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone could take over even that late in the season. All three of them have been producing tyres for 900+ bhp turbo-engined monsters, who had all the refinement of a jackhammer, in the 80’s so you’d expect they can come up with some tyres for the puny little things we’re going to see next year, who aren’t even expected to reach 800bhp and with 30 more years in engine management system development are much more drivable than the brutal monsters of yesteryear.
    Through their sister company Firestone, Bridgestone even has additional long time experience with turbo-engined openwheel cars with a habit of blasting around on ovals at speeds that F1 will never attain.

    I hear your implied criticism, your honour and raise my arm. I am one of the anti-Pirelli-in-F1 brigade. Not because I have some sort of axe to grind with Pirelli. It’s simply based on how they participate in ruining F1.
    They’re by far not the only people working on that ‘project’. FIA have done the most work by mandating gearboxes and engines to last a decade and effectively prohibiting engine development and tyre manufacturer competition. The last thing, where a team could still make a difference was aerodynamics and that option has been negated, too, due to ridiculously bad manipulative tyres. That’s what earned Pirelli the scorn of so many people.
    There’s one little passage in an earlier article, where you say Pirelli came to F1 wanting degrading tyres from the very start to gain ‘exposure’. Whoever made that decision set up the PR disaster that Pirelli currently faces right there and right then.
    F1 is a multi-million dollar business with teams that have been part of it for a long time and Pirelli coming in as a supplier. For them to manipulate the tyres to the extent that a team’s investment is almost negated, might be what FIA wanted and it might be legal, but it is not good business practice.

    I’ve been a professional software engineer (fancy word for programmer) since 1998 and since 2004 I am running my own business. I produce customized software and among the customers were VW, Audi, Commerzbank, Bayer, Bosch etc. When they contract me to supply them with software they (rightly) expect that it works on all infrastructure. I cannot work up to them and say – ‘well y’all have to kickout the SGI and buys bigger ones else my program’s gonna be sloppy and I’m afraid y’all have to slow down the Linux cluster if stuff’s happening too fast for your users’. I would do that once and it’d be the end of my business career.
    Mind you, to make sure my program works on all infrastructure, the customer is required to give me access to it to test my software. This is where Pirelli has a point of not getting enough test time.

    Pirelli have clearly adopted a different attitude. They put themselves in a role of kingmaker, deciding which design philosophy is a valid one and which philosophy designers should be forced to abandon. And rightly so, they’re facing what every supplier would face if he steps out of the expected role – calls to be dumped from the contract.

    • We specifically asked Hembery was this true re: them wanting to make more degradeable tyres than Bridgestone He said yes, if you listen to the teleconference.

      He did go on to repeat the Mantra re: Canada 2010 being the ideal model race they were asked to replicate.

    • Biggest is best. Mmm. Mine is bigger than yours?

      BHP is for show. 2014 cars wheel spinning in 4th and 5th gear and 30 kph faster in a straight line is hardly ‘puny’ 🙂

      • In contrast to the 80’s monsters that’s still limp-wristed. I’d hazard a guess that Pirelli could get more reliable data out of testing a 1985 Brabham than a 2013 Merc

        • There’s a lot of things to fix before BHP if we want to do a stroll down memory lane. Car park run off areas for one, prize money differentials….

    • Regarding the idea that another tire company may be able to suddenly grab the 2014 tire contract at the last minute, there are some important points that are not been discussed.

      Hankook’s reasons for not bidding on the F1 are likely the same reasons that any other tire supplier would not want to bid for F1. Look at what they said:

      #1) It’s too late. It’s been mentioned here that other tire companies have experience with high power to weight ratio racing machines so they can somehow just jump in to F1 quickly. Note that the views of Paul Hembry of Pirelli, and Michael Eckert of Hankook on this question are exactly the same… it is very very late to be testing for the 2014 specifications. As the good Judge noted, Eckert of Hankook made clear that from a tire engineering stand point, it’s impossible in this time frame to jump in for 2014. I’m confident that any experienced professional racing tire engineer likely holds the same viewpoint.

      #2) As Hankook made clear in the interview, (and Pirelli by their recent actions) the lack of testing opportunities would make it “impossible” for another manufacture to supply F1.

      #3) F1 is the big stage, so tire manufacture don’t want to get it wrong, (like the six car race that was the US GP at Indy back in 2005 when all Michelin teams withdrew because Indy had repaved the track in the off-season, and Michelin’s tires were not engineered to handle the resulting forces). Michelin paid a huge lingering penalty in reputation and money for that.

      #4) Paul Hembry said immediately after the Spanish GP, that Pirelli wanted to see 2 to 3 stops per race. The tires were wrong, and Pirelli wants to change them ASAP. 2 to 3 stops was Pirelli’s stated goal for 2012, and for 2013. I’ve noticed that no-one incorporates the meaning of that fact (the stated goal versus the actual performance) in the discussions here (and elsewhere). Nor have I seen journalists incorporate what that means in their reporting (with the exception of the good judge, of course).

      If I recall correctly, last year started well in regards to the goal of races running 2 to 3 stops. But by mid-season, teams adjusted to the tires, and at the end of the season, they were often running 1 stop races. So Pirelli missed the target! Why? Well, their test mule to develop the 2012 tires was a very old Toyota F1 car, but it wasn’t providing representative forces. So they cut an elaborate deal last Spring with all the teams to run a 2010 Lotus F1 car (see Adam Cooper’s outstanding article last Friday on the crazily complex agreement with all the teams to run that damned Lotus last year).

      It turns out the Lotus car also failed to generate forces similar to the 2013 cars. Consequently, Pirelli missed the target, the tires are too soft, and Pirelli is not happy and they want to correct the issue right away, but they can’t. So the teams will adjust to these tires, (as they do every season).

      This Spring, Pirelli does the smart thing. They reviewed what they did previously, (they had ye old Toyota test mule, then they obtained an old Lotus test mule, but both failed to provide the data they needed). Fortunately, Pirelli was smart enough to see in their contracts that they can use teams to test. Eureka! Better data from a current generation car!

      How important is that data? Just look at what Pirelli did in their tests… 1000kms each with both Ferrari and Mercedes. We know that Mercedes did 15 to 20 different combinations. They tested 12 different structures using a base compound. The testing by Ferrari was likely to have been just as extensive. Why so much testing? Because that is the way racing tires are designed. They are surprisingly difficult to engineer and design, despite all the years of experience that is available. As one tire engineer said a few years ago, “We’re just working with rubber and string here.” I could share a little more on that process later perhaps. Hope this helps!

      • I hear what you’re saying, but for FOm/FiA to be playing brinksmanship like they are on the Pirelli deal, they *have* to have a backup plan.
        All I’m saying is Michelin, Bridgestone, good year, Firestone or anyone with recent or very similar (indycar, gp2) *could* make tires that *would* work. Obviously they’d err on the side of safety and over-engineer from whatever their starting point was, and if that resulted in one stop races, so be it… The Silent One, is, after all trying to reduce the number of stops.

  3. “if he steps out of the expected role”
    But everyone else is saying they were asked (told?) what the longevity of the tyres should be…
    Maybe they’ve gone too far – maybe they need to make adjustments – but I find your your evidence to “be dumped from the contract” rather tenuous and non-specific…
    I would welcome more real debate on this… 😉

    • Well, to stay with the example of my own business. FIA asking Pirelli to make those fast degrading tyres is akin to the customer asking me to write a program that slows down to a crawl for 5 minutes every 2 hours to force users to take more short brakes from staring at the screen. Good intention, ridiculous idea. Because, in the end the users would say I’m too stupid to do my job, because the damn program hangs the computer every 2 hours.
      Personally, if any customer would approach me with such an idea, I’d try to argue with him, for instance by adding a notification for the user of sort, but not forcing him into a break by artificially degrading the program’s performance. Would the customer insist I would walk out of the negotiations. No contract is worth wrecking my reputation for. I worked long and hard to build it up.

      That’s exactly what Pirelli have done. They accepted conditions that no halfway sane business man would have accepted in the first place, because the PR backlash was foreseeable and on top of it they wen way too far in 2013. That’s like me adding the ‘artificial hang’ to a program but put such a high load on the processor that it heats up and the cooling fan runs noisily on full pelt as a result for half an hour afterwards. Users would be demanding my head, preferably detached from the rest of my body and on a stake.

      There would have been better ways to make sure two or three pitstops are done – make them mandatory. Can the rule of having to run options and primes and let teams decide, but put in the rules that they have to do at least 2 pitstops, everything else is down to their strategists. DTM has been doing that for years and it worked brilliantly and less artificial than it sounds. In fact there have been some rather surprising results by people coming up with clever timing for their two mandatory stops.

      • The best way to ensure two pit stops per race would be to re-introduce re-fuelling- even less artificial than dictating the number of stops. I think your analogy using your business as an example is flawed as in computing there is a continual drive for better, faster performance, whereas the brief for the tyre supplier to F1 was specifically to limit the performance of the tyres so as to improve the spectacle of the sport for the viewers. If the FIA were to relax the rules on tyres, and, for that matter, engines, gearboxes, materials, etc., and allow unfettered technological progress, then by the end of the year the cars would be far too powerful for the circuits that they race on, and we would be left with a sport without any suitable venues. The tyre issue is not Pirelli-specific. Whichever manufacturer had won the contract to supply F1 would have been going through the same difficulties, bad publicity, lack of clarity from the FIA, etc.

      • I think it is slightly different in this case as Pirelli are getting exposure they would never hope to get by doing what they are now. By the mere fact we are discussing them still after 3 years shows they have kept their name in the news. Do I relate Pirelli road tyres to the delicate ones fitted to an f1 car? No. I expect the road tyres will last just as well as other tyres and if it was a choice between Pirelli or A.N.Other brand, I’d probably stump for Pirelli. That’s as an F1 fan, if I was not, there is still a good chance I’d have seen the ‘Pirelli’ name in some kind of news/sports item/image which is linked to the most advanced form of Motorsport, so again, where would I spend my money then? I think the statement ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is very apt on this occasion.
        Returning to your business, if you managed to get your business up in lights for writing software to the spec the customer requested, wouldn’t you be a bit irked if they then decided to give you no assistance keeping it that way, save for allowing you to buy a 3 year old version of that software? Pirelli are not the problem for me, it’s the fact the regulations are not allowing Pirelli to do their job and when they think they have found a way to get some proper up to date data, the agreement they have may contradict the sporting regulation of the sport. I questioned why Porsche would choose endurance racing over F1, but looking at this mess, I doubt anyone wants to join in any time soon.

        • Well… I asked for debate… and you guys on this site are great…
          Thanks.

          • That’s the nice thing about this place. Wildly different points of view that are discussed without degenerating into a game of name calling 🙂

  4. Interesting to find out who will be the scapegoat in the end.
    It’s not a secret Todt prefers Michelin, and FIA tried to destabilize Pirelli, who have now simply put the ball back in FIA’s court.
    Smart move from Hemberey & Co. if you ask me.

    • Smart is not a word I came to associate with Hembery lately. He must be a smart man, else he wouldn’t have risen that high in Pirelli’s food chain, but his communication skills this year are rotten at best. He constantly says things and say something completely different a short while later. That doesn’t look very smart to me.

    • Hi EnzoMajorca – out of curiosity… how do you know what Todt prefers when he never says anything… 😉

  5. It gives me great pleasure to announce that I have finally removed PlanetF1 from my bookmarks toolbar! I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

    • Congratulations, dobizzle. Welcome to a world where people can disagree in a civil fashion, and humor is not automatically punished by fanboys too rabid to notice it.

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