Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 12th June 2013

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More support for Pirelli

Is the pendulum swinging in favour of Pirelli now? Yesterday TJ13 reported that both Stefano Domenicali and Gary Anderson were putting the responsibility to get the best out of the Pirelli tyres firmly with the driver and the team.

Anderson was quoted saying, “Maybe the drivers should just drive the car to the limit more” and Domenicali said, “It is our [the team’s] responsibility to accept the tyre challenge without complaint”.

Adding to these voices now is BBC pundit and ex team boss Eddie Jordan. Jordan is quoted in an interview with Servus TV saying, “Pirelli openly submitted its tender, they also paid money for it, and now they’re criticised or ridiculed by some teams…. I think some teams should be a bit more careful. Who is going to give them tyres if Pirelli is not there?

He went on to say you cannot punish teams who has done everything right to build their cards correctly according to 2013 specifications (read Lotus F1) and rightly pointed out as long as the leaders win they don’t complain.

People’s memories are short though. We’ve had two tracks that are known to be kind to tyres but we are also getting to a stage of the season where the teams are starting to understand the tyres and can get the best out of them. All that remains now is for the drivers to start racing each other again and not play % games.

Allison to Honda

2013 has been a great year for F1 intrigue and speculation. James Allison leaving Lotus had many believing he was bound for Ferrari or Red Bull.

Contrary to vehement assertions from certain F1 writers and their sources, it appears James Allison could be off to McLaren sorry Honda. At the time of Allison’s departure from Enstone, TJ13 was one of the few F1 news sites to report McLaren did indeed have a significant interest and this was dismissed as nonsense by some of those who claim to be ‘in the know’. Who knows? We shall see.

Luis Vasconelos, of Finnish publication Turun Sanomat, writes today, “According to our sources, Allison has accepted the [Honda] offer, and leads to a small group of engineers who will produce a car that Honda’s will use to test they’re new turbo engine with”.

Honda are not yet a participant in F1, and as such until they register in November 2014, they are not bound by F1 regulations, sporting or design. So what will happen? Could it be Allison will produce a car for them which they will be able to test in Suzuka indefinitely?

Of course Woking and Minato are such a long way from each other, there could be no possibility of F1 technology knowledge transfers.

GMM are reporting, Matt Bishop of McLaren has commented that the Allison to Honda story, “Is untrue.”

Ferrari head of communications speaks out

Ferrari ‘re-located’ their long standing head of communications – Luca Colajanni – to the sub-continent, and a new young gun has replaced him in 2013. Renato Bisignani (see TJ13 article) tells Brazilian media that like Red Bull, Ferrari was also asked to test a 2013 car but similarly refused.

“Of course we said no, the regulations prohibit the use of a car from this year.” Is it strange this is the first time we’ve heard of this from Ferrari in nearly 3 weeks?

Brawn claims Red Bull, and presumably Ferrari too, are not in possession of certain information which he believes will exonerate them at the International Tribunal.

Ferrari and Red Bull have shifted their position over time, yet Hembery maintained other teams had been asked to do a similar test to Mercedes – and he made this statement the Sunday morning before the race in Monaco. Opportunity for the other teams to test with a 2013 car was one of the criteria the FIA note suggested had been ignored by Pirelli.

However, this note issued by the FIA following the Monaco race appeared to indicate they had indeed allowed an ‘over-rider’ to the sporting regulations regarding testing, but with certain conditions attached. This may now stand and fall by whether the exact conditions were met by Pirelli and/or Mercedes.

I find the Red Bull and Ferrari position that they said no to Pirelli strange. How did that conversation go?

Hembery: (to Dominicali) Hi Stefano, we’ve got an ‘over rider’ on the sporting regs from the FIA to test prototype tyres with a 2013 car. Fancy it?

Dominicali: That is preposterous – it is against the regulations.

Hembery: Okay. Check it out and come back to me.

Dominicali: (some time later) No we think you are wrong, but we will offer the use of our 2011 car.

Hembery: No worries. Barcelona? The week before the Spanish GP OK?

Domincali: We can do that. Great. Catch you then.

Of course the conversations could have been infinitely different from this amusing proposition. Yet what is now agreed fact, was that Pirelli in no way were secretive about proposals to test tyres with a 2013 car. At least 3 teams were asked and the notion of Pirelli testing with a 2013 car was therefore known widely and discussed well before Monaco.

Was that the impression you had from Horner and Marko on Sunday morning in Monaco? Mmm.

Vettel’s new contract – the chicken or the egg?

TJ13 reported yesterday that Dominicali was adamant that Felipe Massa would be staying at Ferrari in 2014. Yet the first murmurings of this were in fact on Sunday.

Again, yesterday Bilde broke the news that Vettel had signed a contract extension with Red Bull for an extra year to the end of 2015. Whilst a topic of debate on and off for the past year, the news of Vettel’s Red Bull contract extension was received by some in F1 as somewhat of a surprise.

Amusingly Marko was yesterday asked about the Vettel contract extension and told SID, “I don’t know where this is coming from. There’s nothing new.” Later in the day, Red Bull confirmed the story was true.

It appears that the services of Newey have also been secured until at least the end of 2015 because now Marko explains, “The elements that will ensure Sebastian continues to feel comfortable with us have been created.”

Yet with the huge changes in F1 about to happen in 2014, radical new engines and some new car design specifications, it could be that 1 team emerges dominant as did Brawn did in 2009. If that were a McLaren, Red Bull or a Ferrari, unlike Brawn that domination may well continue into 2015 and beyond. With that in mind, Vettel’s contract extension is somewhat a leap of faith – and that faith is in Adrian Newey to deliver him a title winning car.

Yet Newey has no control over how good the Renault engine will be, and Ferrari or Mercedes could easily deliver a far superior powertrain which trumps any Newey winglets or holes in the floor.

So why did Vettel not wait and see what the 2014 competition is like before signing the 1 year extension option? Its not as though he wouldn’t find himself without top team possibilities.

Could it be Vettel has information that all decent options elsewhere were closed until the end of 2015? If so, then, this decision is a most logical one indeed… otherwise a little strange.

Porsche LMP1

Porsche entry for the 2014 World Endurance Championship has been spied at German manufacturer’s Weissach test track at its research and development facility by factory driver Timo Bernhard.

Fritz Enzinger, head of endurance race programme at Porsche, said: “We are well on schedule. Our newly-formed team has worked with utmost concentration on getting this highly-complex vehicle on the track as soon as possible. This allows us a few additional weeks for more testing and further development. From 2014, the regulations are primarily based on efficiency and present us with completely new challenges.”


Phu Phu Phuket 

As a qualified PADI dive instructor, I feel this is an excellent idea. However, as a seasoned observer of F1 this appears to be a silly notion. Mr. E will be scratching his dandruff ridden mop vigorously. Yet we will briefly proceed.

The Bangkok Post is now reporting Phuket is likely to be the venue for Thailand’s first Formula One race in 2015. Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak said yesterday, “I can confirm that we cannot hold a Grand Prix on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. The law, which took effect last month, prohibits a car racing event in inner Bangkok.

“The ministry will try to organise the race in other provinces such as Phuket which would be an ideal venue which meets our target to promote tourism. We still have time to prepare for the race”.

Another shambles appears to be developing over a new F1 venue and host. An enormous amount of time and effort went into the planning and publicising of the street race in Bangkok (TJ13 article). However, it would not be a surprise if the Thai government don’t heal their rift with Newin Chidchob, get together and build a circuit designed by Tilke in Buriram.

Street circuits are fearfully expensive to set up and take down each year – Monaco is disrupted for up to 4 months and Singapore and Australia all to well know the costs.

21 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 12th June 2013

  1. Ay caramba! Honda ARE clever…and willing to spend gazzilions again!

    Any comment on Vettel’s renewal up to 2015? Will he join Alonso in his last year (2016)? Or will he try to oust Lewis from Merc? Lewis is contracted util 2015…and then Lewis returns to Macca (yay!)?

    Does Newey and Horner have a contract till 2015 with RBR?

    • I predict Lewis will end his F1 driving career in 2015 (or earlier if paid off before then) with Mercedes as his final employer. No other team will sign him after that unless Lewis is prepared to take a big drop in earnings and/or go to a lowly bottom of the league team.

      • Right, right…and this prediction is based on…?
        Lewis is JV no 2? Merc will fail to produce the goods? Lewis loses passion for F1 and becomes a mega gangsta rapper?

    • Of course they will deny it, because if he becomes a McLaren employee, then then things will get complicated with Honda’s test. FIA may argue that McLaren is involved in illegal testing through its employee’s activities. So best to say he belongs to Honda and they can do whatever they want until they come into the sport.

  2. Interesting (but fairly unsurprising) that Vettel renewed until 2015, this means that for 2014 we should have relatively stable team line-ups (or at least the “big” players will remain in their respective teams).

    VERY interesting story about Ferrari and Red Bull sort of admitting that they had been offered the test but refused to take it. So it basically confirms that they all had known about it but just decided to kick up the fuss for the sake of doing it. And the FIA got tangled in their own web but will decide to stitch their fault on Mercedes/Pirelli/both.

    Unless there is more drama to come, and in F1 you can always expect something to come :p

    • Vettels unusual 1-year extension is telling, I think. It certainly don’t look like he’s planning a long-time future there, else he would’ve signed a longer gig.

  3. All the talk about a Thailand GP half amuses and half appals me. Tourism is no longer a solution for the country’s ills. It would do little for the general populace [as also in Korea, India, Bahrein and elsewhere…] and only benefits the politically necessary face-making intentions of the government. Phuket is now regarded as un-policeable as Pattaya… and Buriram is in the back of beyond.
    I am also bemused… 😉

  4. In trying to discern Vettel’s reasoning for extending his contract to 2015, we have this interesting statement, “Yet with the huge changes in F1 about to happen in 2014… it could be that 1 team emerges dominant as did Brawn did in 2009.”

    Wait… Brawn GP dominant?

    One could well argue that 2009 was the beginning of Red Bull’s dominance, since Brawn GP had to fight RB very hard to gain the 2009 WCC. And RB has won every WCC since.

    But I do agree with your conclusion about Vettel’s quick extension through 2015… indicates all the best seats are locked up.

    • They won 6 of the first 7 races – name the other seasons this has been done in 63 years of F1.

      Agreed they hung on to the end, but that car was dominant early doors due to Honda’s cash.

      • Note that after 8 races, Brawn lead the WCC by only 19.5 points over RB. The next closest constructor was 58 points behind RB.

        At the end of the season Brawn won by only 18.5 points over RB, while the 3rd place team failed to earn half of the points of RB.

        Newey and Red Bull would have dominated 2009 if not for the double diffuser loop-hole. Instead, two teams dominated the others that season.

        To your original point, a wise top-tier driver will shop for a seat that will be faster than most others season after season. In 2009 there were two dominant teams, but we clearly see that RB would’ve been the wiser seat for such a driver.

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