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Young drivers may yet drive at Silverstone
The debate rages on amongst F1 fans, did Mercedes gain a significant advantage from doing the Pirelli test in Barcelona. Brawn has admitted to learning something of marginal advantage, yet the prosecuting counsel for the FIA made the case that even if you ‘learn nothing, you learn there is nothing to learn’, ie suggesting you know reliability is not a problem.
The penalty handed out by the IT to Mercedes was derided by Marko, Horner and an unamed Ferrari spokesperson from the equine fraternity, as being “no penalty at all”. Each have suggested given the opportunity they would prefer to do a Pirelli test, rather than the Young Drivers’ Test (YTD) from which Mercedes were banned. TJ13 commented that the litmus test for these accusations and assertions would now be seen following the FIA’s decision to revise the YTD and open it up to regular F1 drivers.
Would Red Bull and Ferrari give up the opportunity to test new components and car setups with an inexperienced driver to get track time with Pirelli using a regular driver? Isn’t the latter far more important?
Of course the regular drivers will have to test as Mercedes did, with a car that is a stable platform and not variable so Pirelli can gather data across variable compounds and construction prototype tyre combinations. The FIA have stated they will send observers to ensure the teams are not changing the car setup or adding new test components.
Sauber are the first to show their hands on this. They are opting for a combination approach. Dutchman and team test driver Robin Frijns confirms to formule1.nl that he is still scheduled to run on days 1 and 2 of the Silverstone test. “It will be a tough test but I am very happy that I will get the chance to drive the 2013 car. There should be several new components to test.”
So Sauber believe it is a better use of their resource for days 1&2 of the Silverstone test to try out new components on their car with their test driver. They clearly have less interest driving around under Pirelli’s instruction on unspecified prototype rubber. Let’s see how the rest of the teams play it.
Schumacher will not attend German GP
Michael Schumacher will not attend the German GP at the Nurburgring this weekend. Schumacher won his national race 4 times, more than any other driver in the history of Formula 1 history, though all his German GP wins were in Hockenheim. (As TJ13 readers correctly observed Schumacher did win 5 Grand Prix of Europe held at this historic venue).
Bild is reporting that F1’s biggest ever winner will not be attending the German GP because he is entered into a riding competition with his horse-enthusiast wife Corinna. Schumacher will be riding in a celebrity charity category, raising money for a children’s hospital, while the world of Formula One hurtle around the track.
Schumacher proffers, “The clash of dates is unfortunate, but of course I’ll be watching the grand prix on TV.”
Schumacher was ousted from his drive in the Mercedes team after coming out of retirement and helping to establish the Brackley outfit as more a more consistent competitor. Since the arrival of Lewis Hamilton it is clear Schumacher was hindered by a poor car (as was Nico Rosberg), but that he still possessed many of his powers from the years when he dominated the sport completely.
Many Schumacher fans believe he would still compete easily in the top 10 still, and as such he may feel a little sore from not having the opportunity to see through to fruition the years of effort he put into developing the Mercedes car.
Pirelli a little sensitive
Following the release of their findings to the media yesterday, Pirelli were criticised for blaming the teams for the events of Sunday. Paul Hembery has issued a second statement stating, “Contrary to the impression that some people have formed, I would like to underline the collaboration and support that we are receiving from the teams, drivers, FIA and FOM.
In no way are we intending to create arguments or attack anybody. We have taken our responsibilities upon ourselves as our press release indicates. But not having full control over all the elements that impact on the use of the tyres, we need everybody’s contribution. With regard to this, we are receiving the full support of all the parties involved, for which we are very grateful.”
You can’t blame Pirelli for feeling sore. As Lauda described it last week, ‘the paddock is like a snake pit’, where everyone is culpable of acting in their self interests. Yet if they can shift the blame elsewhere and avoid taking or admitting responsibility – then this is the default position.
Lotus on bended knee
One may be forgiven for thinking the driver in F1 under less pressure than others is Kimi Raikkonen. Lauda accused Raikkonen of having it easy when he suggested if he moves to another team he will be required to do ‘more working days’ and less ‘drinking days’.
Kimi refuses to do simulator work and never does the track walk done by other drivers. His work with Lotus team sponsors is light, and he competes in snowmobile racers which have caused him injury in the past. Fans love Kimi because he appears to have a ‘sod you lot’ attitude, ‘I know what I’m doing’, which of course is unique among F1 drivers today
Eric Boullier says he apologised to a “frustrated” Kimi Raikkonen after admitting the team made a bad strategy call and failed to pit him under the safety car caused by Vettel’s retirement near the end of the race. Kimi was in P3 at the time and whilst a number of other drivers around him stopped for fresh tyres he did not.
He criticised the team after the race suggesting he had asked the question, and been told it was not worth it. What actually happened was having passed the pit Kimi radioed in and was told by his engineer replied “it’s too late now.” Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton all on fresher tyres then passed him in the closing laps of the race as he struggled with his tyres finishing P5.
Boullier admits the call cost them several points and Raikkonen a podium. “Our strategy was great until the last Safety Car. We should have called Kimi in to save at least one position and make the podium. Unfortunately we made the wrong call for which we apologised to Kimi and to the team”. Boullier adds in their defence, “No team can say they make the correct call on every occasion, whether in race strategy, car design philosophy or any other aspect of the sport.”
Kimi was pretty frustrated when he got out of the car which is understandable – we wouldn’t want a driver who wasn’t frustrated after what happened – but there’s no point sitting in the corner sulking; we’re focused on getting a good result in Germany.”
Maybe I’m getting old and intolerant, but one of the highlights of this year was listening to Alain Prost speaking on a number of occasions in Monaco. A theme he touched on more than once was the way things were in his time. He explained how drivers had to manage resources which meant they did not run flat out for the entire race.
He made it clear he felt the driver knows best about the tyres, they can feel the difference from lap to lap and turn to turn, and Prost said it was his responsibility to call for a change of rubber when he felt the time was right.
We had Di Resta slating Force India in Monaco for not calling him in for slicks during the last 5 minutes of Q1 for dry tyres, yet at that same moment the inexperienced and much maligned Van de Garde told Caterham he wanted to change from the wets because the track was dry enough.
The drivers are doing themselves no favours when they blame the team for matters such as this, because they can make the call just as quickly as can the team. As soon as the safety car is deployed ‘SC’ appears on their screens and they should know how many laps they’ve done and how many left they have to go.
The best drivers like Vettel are thinking all the time, yet it appears others are so busy hanging on for dear life – in cars which are not even flat out – that they have become dependant on a team of nannies who tell them what to do.
Hembery will be present
Having skipped the FIA Friday press conference in both Canada and Silverstone, the FIA have confirmed Paul Hembery will be present this Friday to answer questions. With him will be Pat Fry, Paddy Lowe, Sam Michael, Tom McCullough and there is no 6th person
Driver line up for FIA press conference
Drivers tomorrow answering inane questions will be Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Sebastian Vettel.
Brawn stays as long as he wants
Ross Brawn denies he is about to leave Mercedes telling the BBC, “We’re in good shape for next year. I wouldn’t want to miss the fun.” Rumours have linked him with Japanese engine manufacturer Honda and their return to F1 in 2015 with McLaren but Brawn states, “I don’t know anything about that.”
Paddy Lowe who was rumoured to have been recruited as Brawn’s replacement tells AMuS, “Ross is currently the team principal. We don’t know how long he wants to go on, but it’s his decision alone. I’m proud to work with a man who has beaten me many times in my career,” Lowe smiled. “In the meantime there’s a lot to do and I’m very comfortable with that.”
It seems the amiable Brawn has diffused quickly any possible conflict issues as Lowe reveals, “When I arrived on my first day, the first person to greet me and spend an hour with a cup of coffee was Ross. He was genuinely delighted to see my arrival and get me stuck into the business. So that will give you a sign that he isn’t threatened by my position. He’s very happy that I’ve joined the company. I’m very happy to work with him.”
Today is the birthday of the youngest ever F1 triple world champion, however July has not been a month where Sebastian has managed to celebrate a race win..
Of the 109 races Vettel has started there have been 12 in July. He has delivered a 5 podiums and been in the top 8 on the other 5 occasions he has finished the race. Webber in July has 3 wins and one at Sebastian’s home GP.
Yet outside of July Vettel has a 30% win rate, so this statistic will be a mere niggle but he probably would quite like to put to bed.
Still no agreement on tyres
Pirelli are still refusing to say their tyres are not safe, and it is on these grounds alone which the tyre supplier can make a unilateral change to the tyres. There appears to be no debate as yet over what the teams will deem acceptable for the rest of the year and we could yet see the FIA required to step in and rule.
Speaking to SID Toto Wolff suggests today that, “I don’t think you can expect any tyre supplier in the world to say their tyres are not safe.”
He hits out at what he describes as opportunism among teams refusing to agree the change of tyres previously. “Sometimes it takes dramatic events for everyone to pull together. In this case, there can be no more opportunistic seeking of advantage,”
Wolff though appears to be hedging his bets on whether Mercedes will yet request to take part in the test. “We have accepted that we are not going (to Silverstone). If, like our test, it is blind tyre testing, then it should go ahead.” Implicit in this statement is that if the test is not blind, then something else should happen.
The FIA have stated the test will go ahead so what can Wolff be inferring other than they would be unhappy with a test that is not blind and seek permission to join in.
We await to hear from Pirelli exactly what and how they propose to run the test and then we’ll know more.
Fernando Alonso is rightly concerned about about the performance of his Ferrari. Following qualifying in Silverstone a tight lipped Alonso said, “The dangerous moment is the way that we seem to perform worse and worse.”
Alonso’s qualifying positions this year have been 5, 3, 3, 3, 5, 6, 6, 10 and Massa has not reached Q3 for the past 3 races either.
Felipe complained after qualifying on Saturday that, “we’re struggling to get grip in the car. We don’t have the car we expect for qualifying”.
Dominicali’s comments were the most damming of all as he agreed with Alonso, “Fernando’s analysis is one that I share, we have made the car worse. Now we need to analyse all the data to find the reasons for this step backwards, and deliver a solution.
The drivers are in a difficult position psychologically, so it’s important to reassure them.”
We’ve heard nothing from Ferrari today as they digest the Pirelli proposals for the weekend. However the new kevlar belted tyre will make it harder for them to heat the rubber up and the weather is set to be inclement and possibly cold.
Are we about to see Ferrari implode and all the internal fun and games that will follow. F1 fans have a mere 30 something hours a year of race action to keep them going, but the off track antics certainly make up for it.
Force India forced to pay up
Force India refused to pay Italian aerodynamic development companies Aerolab and FondTech for work they had done for the team following their decision to begin work with Team lotus (now Caterham).
They claimed the companies had stolen ideas used whilst working for Force India and sued for damages. In 2012, the court threw this claim out ordering Force India to cough up just over 800,00 euros.
Force India appealed and today have lost that appeal.
“On behalf of everyone at FondTech I am delighted and relieved by today’s judgment,” said FondTech’s managing-director Jean Claude Migeot.
“Due to the complex nature of this case there was always an opportunity for facts to be misconstrued, but I have maintained faith that the rightful outcome would be reached. While this has been a lengthy process it has also been a necessary one in order to wholly restore FondTech’s reputation as a trustworthy industry-leading supplier. I sincerely believe that today’s verdict does just that.”
Too many cooks make a fast car
Whilst the organisational structure of Mercedes senior management may be complex with more dotted lines than an eight lane highway, Paddy Lowe says it is working.
He tells Bernie’s website, “I’ve not come in to displace Bob (Bell, technical director), Aldo (Costa, engineering director) or Geoff (Willis, technology director), who are all doing fantastic work.
There is absolutely no intention or need to displace what they do. I’ve definitely come in at a higher level to work with Toto (Wolff, executive director) and Ross (Brawn, team principal) around the strategy of the business.”
This is not quite what TJ13 reported Wolff to have said. In yesterdays news we were led to believe he was assisting Ross Brawn with the continual development of the W04.
Oh well, so long as Bob, Aldo, Geoff, Ross, Paddy, Toto and Niki all know what’s going on, Mercedes fans just won’t care. Maybe they run relay shifts of 8 hours each every day to ensure the mission to beat Red Bull to the 2013 title is a 24 hour a day operation 🙂
Alonso mind games begin
having presumably given up all hope of any assistance from Maranello to stop making his car worse, Fernando has resorted to his wisdom sayings. He tweeted, “The suspicious mind conjours it’s own demons”, and attached THIS picture. I hope you all can sleep tonight.