Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 10th June 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day 11:07 11:35 12:04 14.35 18:24GMT

Marshall Dies in Canada

F1 has suffered its first fatality in 12 years when a race marshal was run over by the recovery vehicle retrieving Gutierrez stricken Sauber. The FIA issued a statement saying, “The worker dropped his radio and attempted to pick it up. As he did this, he stumbled and was hit and run over by the recovery vehicle.”

The was rushed to hospital but he died shortly afterwards. Race promoter Francois Dumontier commented, “It’s terrible. It tarnishes the superb weekend that we had. I am devastated to learn this. I don’t have any other words.”

F1’s last fatality was in 2001 and also was that of a trackside marshal in Melbourne.

Apparently the unnamed marshal was steadying the Sauber, already aloft above his head, as it continued on its journey away from the site of the incident. Whilst it is too early to criticise, during the crash fest that was Indy in Detroit last week, many cars were removed by recovery trucks and it did not appear to require human labour to steady the cars once they were airborne and on the move.

Force India Smiles and fisticuffs

All’s well that ended well for Scotland’s Paul di Resta as he drove magnificently to claim 7th place in the Canadian GP after failing to reach Q2 on Saturday. Di Resta managed 56 laps on tyres which have been described by others this year as as fragile, yet he continued to increase his pace throughout the stint – each lap quicker than the previous.

The Scot also benefited from a mistake in the earlier laps which saw his team mate spin and lose several positions. This incident was the catalyst for others which saw Sutil receive a drive through penalty when running 8th in the closing laps. The German driver did manage to hold off McLaren’s Sergio Perez and finish 10th and score a point. He admitted to SKY TV the spin during the opening lap was his mistake.

Di Resta on the other hand has been critical of his team two race weekends in a row and this appears to have created predictable results. The Daily Mail reports following qualifying and Di Resta’s comments that, “His trainer is also understood to have been involved in a fracas with a Force India mechanic”.

The Telegraph report Force India, “admitted that a disagreement had occurred”, but claim is was unrelated to Di Resta’s criticisms.

In the meantime the Silverstone based outfit are no closer to resolving their issues over building a wind tunnel. The FT reports Vijay Mallya, “recently spent $1.8m on the eyeglasses and pocket watch once owned by Mahatma Gandhi, along with the plate and bowl from which the revered Indian leader is said to have eaten his final meal,” yet the estimated cost of the wind tunnel is around $75m and as yet TJ13 has been informed no cash has appeared.

A Silverstone based site has been identified, but as yet the proper planning consent is yet to be given. In a dispute including Caterham, Force India were ordered last year to pay $1.12 million owed to its former wind tunnel partner, Aerolab. This debt was already more than 12 months overdue.

The wind tunnel saga has been dragged out for over 2 years and is continues to trundle along conveniently at the pace of a trans-Indian locomotive.

McLaren in disarray

An almost speechless Jenson button spoke following the Canadian GP which saw the team lose their record of scoring points in the last 66 consecutive races. “I’ve never been so pleased to get out of a car. It was quite painful out there”.

Button identifies the scale of the problem the Woking team have with the MP4-28. “It is massive. We got lapped — easily lapped. It was like we were in a different category. It’s really difficult at the moment to know where to look. It’s a big gap.”

Having qualified woefully in 14th place, for a reason no one at McLaren has explained, the team analysts suggested Button should start the race on the super-soft tyre and not on the medium tyre. This decision can only have been based on information the team have from previous running prior to the weekend, as they had little data on tyre performance on the Canadian track due to the weekend’s changeable weather.

Having made this call, Button was then given delta times to drive to which left the tyres with plenty of life remaining at the end of the race. TJ13 has consistently called for the teams to race the rubber hard and then make the number of stops required. The analysts are ruling the world of F1 – and REGULARLY getting it wrong cf. Red Bull in Barcelona.

Di Resta clearly profited from starting on the medium tyre which proved to be the tyre of choice for the race. Yet questions must be asked as to who at McLaren made the decision to start on the super-soft. It appears the team are in a fog, making regular and silly mistakes to add the the problems they have with the new pull rod suspension system they’ve designed.

The decision to use a pull rod suspension system design on the MP4-28 is also questionable. TJ13 reported back in February that the time required to make track side tweaks is often twice as long as for push rod suspension systems due to the confined space in which the mechanics have to work. Why do this when you employ a lead driver who requires incremental levels of track side honing and fine tuning above most other drivers in the sport at present?

It is not too late for McLaren to challenge for third in the constructor’s table this year, but time is now fast running out. Then we have the spectre of 2014 and the huge changes coming. When will Big Ron call time on this year’s epic misadventure and demand the resources are ploughed into next years car.

Sergio Perez continues his run of form which see’s him out qualify Button in the last 3 races. Jenson does however retain a lead of 13 points over his team mate – yet this surely is of little comfort.

Stuck on tyres

Spanish publication El Pais is reporting a change in glue used for the tyres is the only solution which will solve the problem of the tyres delaminating.  Joan Villadelprat views this as the only sensible solution which will not incur great costs to Pirelli.  After, in his own words, an extensive revision of the rules, Villadelprat is convinced Mercedes GP and Brawn will be cleared of any wrong doing at the international tribunal.

When the court does sit, it will be the first time it has formed since the ruling was introduced in 2010.  At the moment this is still a relatively unknown phenomenon, and therefore setting a fair precedent for the future will be extremely important.

FIA announces date of IT

The FIA has now confirmed the date which Pirelli and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team will appear before a judging panel of the International Tribunal as the 20th June. The hearing is set to start at 09:30 (CEST) at the FIA Salle du Comité in Paris.

TJ13 will publish the decision of the IT as soon as possible after the hearing.

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23 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 10th June 2013

  1. I’ve often felt watching McLaren over the last few years that they preferred their computer simulations to reality. Mostly to their detriment.

  2. I still don’t understand what possessed McLaren to change their car. I don’t buy the whole nonsense of ‘the car reached the end of its development cycle’. There is always room for improvement.

    Was it a forward looking change, i.e. new suspension would be better suited to the new regs? But then again, Honda will only come on in 2015 and who knows what would work best for them.

    Was it Button pushing for a new car because in the existing one he was losing hands down to Lewis last year? Did he want one that would suit him 100% just like the Brawn? And where are his development skills. At least Lewis (who supposedly can only drive) still won two races with the woeful Macca of 2009 towards the end of the year and the car was getting better and better. Right now Macca are going backwards.

    Was it a combo of all reasons above? Just don’t get it.

      • Good heavens, Ron Dennis!

        I suppose enough time (six years) has passed since the extraordinarily public display of his ineffectual leadership (a polite description, yes?) caused his own team to lose it’s points for a whole season, receive a record fine from the FIA, and have the FIA comb through their pending car designs for potential evidence of cheating.

        While I grant that we see Coughlan and Symonds back in paddock, if I was a McLaren shareholder, I believe I’d be disappointed if Dennis were to lead their F1 team again.

        • I thought it was more Ron Dennis’s ineffectual relationship with Max Mosely?! Your later comment on Sam Michael however may be true re current problems. Either way and whomever caused his departure, Hamilton is well out of it.

    • To McLaren’s defense: the decision to ‘change their car’ was made just before the summer of 2012, and at that time the MP 4-27 wasn’t going that well so that helps to understand the decision…

      • I’m sorry but I’ll have to disagree with that. The MP4-27 showed from the start that it was a pretty good car. Hamilton was on pole in Australia and Malaysia, finished 3rd in both. Button won in Australia. Hamilton got pole again in Spain only for the donkeys at McLaren to under-fuel him and he was thus moved straight back to the low end of the grid. And Hamilton won in Canada too (which is technically the last race before the summer officially started, for the race in Valencia).

        Whatever the reasons were, it’s not coming off for McLaren and slowly but surely they’ve become a midfield team. For all the criticism Hamilton got for being “just” a racer and having no understanding of driving a car forward development-wise, it now seems like his presence alone benefited them and Button seems at a loss about how to drive the car forward. Not that it’s his fault mind, his operating window is just ridiculously narrow, and there have been some nastier things going on between Hamilton and the top-level management at McLaren that we will probably never hear about.

        McLaren’s problem is that sometimes they just don’t think on their feet. And they have an uncanny ability of showing it as often as they can. They’re missing Ron Dennis at the helm, and they are missing Hamilton behind the steering wheel. But neither of them will be coming back I believe.

        • There is an interview from Martin W. on the decision to start with a completely new design (either BBC or Racer’s Edge podcast) and in that interview he explains that it was really last year’s mid-season form that drove their decision (I think in Whitmarsh’ terminology ‘summer’ means F1 summer break). They were probably more looking at Button’s ‘form’ as they might have anticipated to Lewis leaving the team.

    • I always thought it was in anticipation of 2014 regs. Though looking at the year Ferrari had when they switched to pullrod, can’t say I’m particularly surprised at how McLaren are doing. After all Ferrari had Alonso and still had some mighty struggles, while Macca have Button, who is one of the most finicky drivers on the grid, and completely lost the plot while they tried to adjust the car to suit his driving style last year.

      It appears that Lewis’ move to Mercedes might demonstrate the brains of their driver development are someplace other than Woking at the moment. Which begs the question, will they be desperate enough to seek outside help from the only driver with loads of experience developing cars and a sterling reputation, who is currently underemployed. Of course, they will have to poach him from Caterham first. LOL

  3. Any one see this from Vettel on sky sports: http://www1.skysports.com/formula-1/news/12475/8769079/Sebastian-Vettel-insists-his-Pirelli-complaints-were-only-ever-directed-at-safety-issues

    The tyres are now fine, never had any issues with performance:
    “The criticism we had or I expressed was not based on performance, I think it was based on safety and I’m sure if you ask other drivers, maybe they weren’t that strong in the press, maybe they think they have an advantage with this sort of tyre, but we had some occasions this year where the tyre suffered delaminating, the top layer came off for not exactly known reasons, probably debris but you will always have some pieces on the track.

    “I think it’s not possible to have an entirely clean track everywhere and I think that has been the criteria.”

    Yeah, whatever, I’m calling bullshit.

    • Not good for our Seb’s Cred. What happened to the, “we can only drive at 80-90%…”. I guess that was because they were worried about a tyre explosion. Even though 14 out of 13,000 only have failed.

      Grandpappy Judge’s voice again, “sometimes better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool – than open it and remove all doubt”.

      • Is Seb correct in that quote?

        I’ve not yet found a quote from him complaining the tyres are too soft. That’s come from some or all of RB’s paddock, (such as Horner, Marko, Newey, the owner himself, etc).

        • He’s never complained about the tyres being too soft. He has complained about the excessive need for tyre management after his win in Bahrain and repeated that after Barcelona. In both cases he was right.
          I don’t think the tyre saga is over yet. Canada’s track specifics make it easy on the tyres. Silverstone will be the real litmus test. We could see the return of delta-time processions there.

    • They figure out the tires and suddenly there are no issues because a change would now be detrimental to them. I still don’t understand how a de-lamination is less safe than a puncture. They’ve done a poor job on explaining how driving on a steel belt is less safe than a deflated tire which upsets the geometry of the suspension and balance of the car.

      • AT LAST… Somebody in the mainstream media agrees with what I’ve been saying all year.

        Gary Anderson writes today, “Jenson Button said that the lap time McLaren decided to do was far too slow – and when he pushed he could still keep them alive. Well, maybe the teams are just trying to be too sophisticated with the tyres”. AND HERE IT IS, “Maybe the drivers should just drive the car to the limit more”.

        Capitals for emphasis… Not shouting…. Much.

        • Although I don’t disagree with you, if they did do what you are suggesting, and then we get back to the routine of 4/5+ pits per race, everyone will then complain again that the tyres need changing, and we really don’t need that.

        • In my humble opinion, it’s all track and/or car specific. The last 2 we’ve had, Monaco and Canada, were fairly easy for the tyres. That helped Red Bull and Mercedes moreso than Ferrari and Lotus. Lotus in particular were nowhere in Canada, it was too cold for them. I believe that in Silverstone we will see the problems that plagued them (well, Mercedes especially) with high tyre-wear in the high-speed turns. It’s the way it is, no car is über-perfect for all tracks and conditions, the last 4 races highlight that pretty clearly.

          I’m all for the going-to-the-limit approach (and I believe most F1 followers are), but then teams should be allowed to put the “right” amount of fuel in the car for them. Then you’ll see drivers put the right combos of tyres and fuel to suit them in the race and just get on with it. It’s been like this for decades before and it worked very well. As you (and Gary) rightly say : just let the drivers get on with the racing and do what they feel is necessary to be (reasonably) on the limit.

          • “In my humble opinion, it’s all track and/or car specific.”

            I accept you are completely right KimKas about the Monaco/Montreal argument.

            Such that Brawn said in Monaco that Montreal would be similarly kind to them.

            I would say though that Barcelona was track specific and following their ‘secret’ test – Ferrari were the only team who set out (and admitted it) to 4 stop from Friday FP1.

            Further, Barcelona was not a wash out in qualy so used tyres created additional risk for Ferrari

            My view from Sepang has been – the analysts are placing too high a risk value on the extra stop meaning they will be stuck in traffic (as is a traditional view).

            This forces them to tell the drivers to drive more conservatively.

  4. Candidly, I’m surprised that McLaren’s Sporting Director, Sam Michael, has not been mentioned in regards to the McLaren team’s puzzling performance this past weekend. Per McLaren, Sam is “…primarily responsible for trackside operations.”

    The irony is that Sam has a well established record of trackside organizations that he has lead failing to execute, with that history going back to his early days at Williams.

    • McLaren’s chosen race strategy for Button at Canada, to conserve tyre wear, and reduce the quantity of pit-stops does appear particularly perplexing.

      The total time cost of a pit-stop there is one of the least of the season at 12 to 13 secs. In addition, like all teams, they had many sets of dry tyres in hand thanks to the wet practice sessions earlier in the weekend.

    • Vortex Motio , you are close to the mark regarding Sam Michael. Keeping JPM and Ralf from coming to blows in the motor home is probably one of the high points of his tenure at Williams. I believe Martin Whitmarsh is a very astute manager but perhaps lacking a bit in the leadership department. What will it take to turn the season around at Woking?

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