Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 3rd July 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day GMT 09:49 10:09 11:05 11:53 14:23 16:24 16:55 17:30 19:53 20:04 20:16

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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.”

Vettel celebrates

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.

Alonso concerned

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.


40 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 3rd July 2013

  1. I know I’m going off topic here, but has Lewis sorted himself out with regards the brakes at Merc now? I know they changed the brakes but surely this would have an impact on the balance of the car. Rosberg was faster in the practise sessions at Silverstone but Lewis outqualified him. Don’t know if that was the extra half a second fans gave him or whether he has sorted things out now. My guess is the former, so we may see Rosberg back on top in Germany,

    • There is also not much braking at silverstone either, at least not heavy, so that would help a lack of confidence in the big stops. He did seem to make up his time in the first part of beckets, getting a nice turn in line.

      As Much as I don’t like Todt, the Silverstone YDT is an amazing piece of stragetgy calling any bluffs. I bet some of the more vocal teams are in a real quandry now!

  2. Can we please stop using the word ‘penalty’ for the thing that the IT handed to Mercedes? A penalty implies a punishment for infraction of a rule, what Mercedes is being faced with is a measure to put it back into a position as if it never infracted the rule, but it is not at all being punished for their clear infraction of the rules.

    • For readers not used to our heated and in depth debates – we use this because it’s what the IT deemed it to be.

      I could suggests, ‘free ice cream for the year’ as an alternative 🙂

      • Luckily the FIA and Todt are doing what they can to stop Bernie’s mission to bring the WDC and WCC to Germany and by altering the YDT into a tyre test they somewhat managed to turn the IT’s most lenient verdict into something that is approaching the definition of a penalty, but I vote for the ‘free ice cream for the year’ as it will help us to remember what triggered this miraculous Mercedes resurrection…

        • Danilo would be proud of you making the difference between Austria and Germany. xD

          Also the IT’s only verdict, if we are to split hairs. 😉

          More seriously, I don’t know that Mercedes have really sorted their tires. Maybe it was coming to grips with all their new updates, but their FP2 long runs were not that fast, though they did run longer stints (13 laps) than most of the rest of the field.

          And the way the race unfolded, with Lewis’ tire going after 7 laps and Rosberg being able to put a fresh set of tires on 10 laps from the end, plus Vettel’s gearbox and all the safety car running, kept us from really knowing if their tire woes are over.

          • I’m not native English, but cant ‘most lenient’ not also refer to 1 single verdict?:-)

            Agree that Merc might have benefited from the extra tyre change opportunity that was given by the safety car, but if you look at how they were constantly falling down the order in the races before their Barcelona test one can only conclude that they must have learned something? It would be too easy to put all of their sudden progress down to their Barcelona test but to deny that they have gained a signficant competitive advantage also seems a stretch?

          • In fact, most lenient can refer to a single verdict, but in context (boo) most lenient implies a comparison to previous verdicts, of which there are none from the IT (though to be fair, plenty from the FIA if that’s what you were thinking of).

            What was clear to me is that Lewis was driving as if he had no worries about degradation, ( which utterly floored me and I will admit to being astonished by his pace at the start) and based on the qualifying lap he drove, they really got the cars new bits (floor and wing, so substantial) sorted out in FP3.

            I do think Merc gained some advantage, (Brawn admitted as much) though I would hesitate to call it significant, mostly because Merc has been the fastest car all year, limited by tires in the races sure, but 5 out of 8 poles is not an accident.

            I think the best thing to do is to look at the only other team that has had one of these “private” tests with Pirelli, which is Ferrari. Although they used a 2011 chassis, it did run with 2013 parts and a current driver so I feel comfortable in thinking they would have been able to derive similar info to Mercedes’ test.

            Ferrari came out of their test, did very well at Barcelona and have gradually slipped back, so for me, based on that, either Pirelli actively helped Mercedes in a way they didn’t for Ferrari, for which we have no evidence, or the test helped them somewhat, as it did Ferrari, but since the only thing keeping them from being fastest all year has been the tires, it seems as if it has given them more advantage than it actually did. My thoughts, feel free to disagree vociferously. 😉

          • First of all, thanks for the English grammar lesson, very helpful and much appreciated!:-)

            Wasn’t it Pedro DLR that drove the 2011 Ferrari at their test? He has some experience with the 2013 car as I think he did some limited pre-season testing this year, but still he probably isn’t able to give the same level of feedback about 2013-relevant data as Lewis and Nico? So not sure you can fully compare what Ferrari and Merc might have gotten out of their ‘private’ test “by their own learning’, also because we do not know what 2013 specs where on the 2011 car during the test and to what extent these will allow to draw the right conclusions (or do we?).

            However, much more importantly, do we know if Ferrari also received a confidential email from Pirelli with the testing data? Because I would agree with you that both Merc and Ferrari were probably only able to gain some short-lasting benefits on the basis of their own testing data, but in my view it becomes a much different situation if all of a sudden Pirelli starts sharing their testing data as well as then the conclusions to be drawn could go much more fundamental, and clearly Pirelli did that for Mercedes but I’m not soo sure they did it for Ferrari.

            So for sure we have evidence that Pirelli actively helped Mercedes, but what we do not know is if they also actively helped Ferrari.

          • My pleasure, English is a complicated and messy business at best, even for native speakers.

            Regarding drivers, at one of the Ferrari tests Massa drove one of the cars, and yes, we are not sure exactly what parts were on the car, but given Pirelli’s struggles, it would have been making similar downforce to this year’s car, otherwise why bother. So in the bigger sense I do feel it would have been comparable, though clearly not exactly the same.

            As to the confidential email, I believe it contained primarily telemetry from the car that engineers normally analyse to look for faults, engine temps, rpm’s throttle etc., etc., sort of standard issue telemetry. I would be fairly certain they would not have shared tire data in an email, as it would potentially be used as evidence and I do think Pirelli were trying to get on top of their issues at that point, not just advantage a single team. There was, and is today even, a lot of talk about how this was a blind tire test, i.e. the cars were run in a single configuration for the duration, and only Pirelli engineers were looking at the telemetry from the tires. Based on the IT verdict, I am assuming this is more or less true.

            So how is it that Mercedes has done so much better than Ferrari. First, of course, they have had a much faster car all year, an important point. Second, Ferrari seem to have taken a wrong turn in their development. Both make it seem like Merc got special treatment. But, thinking about it I have come up with the following hypothesis, which I hope you will find plausible.

            I think that at some point during the testing, either Nico, or Lewis, or possibly the both of them, began to notice a pattern concerning tire wear and the instructions Pirelli were giving them, for example, the tires go 15 laps when we slow .2 sec per lap on lap 3 and lap 7, but they only go 10 laps if we only slow on lap 3, for the softer compounds. Something like that.
            That then went back to Brackley where some of that new brainpower no doubt went through the data and found something useful that had been missed.

            So in my mind at least, the grand conspiracy to enthrone Mercedes as king of the world is better explained by Pirelli inadvertently giving info to the drivers through their instructions, rather than a cunning masterplan that let them all get away with it. Though I am beginning to think that is the dominant media narrative, based on the comments.

            Shorter and simpler, the most efficient explanation is always incompetence, not cleverness. 🙂

          • Whaw, a lot of points to react on, this is great!:-)

            I think that Massa was allegedly used in the 2012 test and not in the 2013 test, right?

            it would not make any sense for Pirelli to simply send telemetry information in an email categorized as ‘confidential’ and holding ‘extremely sensitive information’ since by the time that this email was sent Merc for sure had already downloaded all of that information that is typically transferred through the telemetry but that is also stored on the onboard computers. During the test Merc was blind, but after the test they got all of the data that you are mentioning out of the car so no need for Pirelli to send an email for these data.

            For sure the Merc in qualifying trim has always been much faster than the Ferrari, but you will find it hard to find any pre-Barcelona racing laps in which the Merc was quicker than the Ferrari, other than some early or just of of box laps during which the Mercedes was stll on fresh rubber. Mercedes for sure did not need any help to make their car quicker, after three years of trying hard they just needed the understand what factor made their car so hard on the tyres.

            Do not get me wrong, I’m not saying that Pirelli gave them that understanding on purpose – as if they could, I very much doubt that Pirelli after only 1000km test would have identified the exact issue that triggered the Merc tyre-eating issue – and I’m also not saying that Pirelli acted in bad faith (I think they were not at all!!), but somewhere in all the things that happened and were learned during the Barcelona was the key to unlock the tyre-eating issue. Whether is was your hypothesis or something else is anyone’s guess and we will probably never know, but what we do know is that it resulted into a material advantage as the tyre-eating issue is significantly reduced, and maybe even completely gone (subject to confirmation in the next couple of races).

            So the grand conspiracy theory goes as far as saying that it cannot have been a coincidence that Merc was picked for the test (plenty of evidence for that) and that the IT’s ‘penalty’ was miraculously mild given the benefit gained, but it doesn’t go as far as saying that Pirelli had the solution in hand and simply handed it to Mercedes.

            One more thing: at the end of 2012 I was lucky enough to visit the Brackley factory and able to raise a lot of questions to senior personnel (whether they replied honestly is of course something else), and one of the things I was focusing on at that time was whether or not Mercedes – in the 2013 pre-season testing – would do the same what it did in the 2012 pre-season, namely not bringing their new car to the first test in order to gain data about the new tyres with all other parameters being a know quantity. I was told that what happened in the 2012 pre-season testing was actually not a consient decision but rather resulted from the fact that the new 2012 was anything but ready, but more importantly I was also told that it would be very dangerous to assume that anything gathered about the 2013 tyres on the basis of – even fully known – 2012 parameters would be valid and useful information for the 2013 car set-up just because of the fact that even a one year old car has no longer much to do with the new car. Just to support the point that Mercedes was more than well aware about how serious an infringement it was to use the current year car in the Barcelona test and must have been assured upfront about the ‘penalty’ that would follow, if not they would have never taken the risk to make such kind of infringement (see the first part of ‘my’ conspiracy theory).

          • Ok, here goes, as far as Massa goes I was never certain which of the tests he participated in, but either way, Ferrari got 2 bites at this particular apple.

            Fantastic info on Brackley (and I must admit a twinge of envy on my part) but I still think Pirelli would not have run the test with Ferrari without getting close to the downforce this season’s cars are running. Whether that provided less benefit to Ferrari is hard to say because they had access to lots of historical data at Mugello that Mercedes did not, and I have seen experts opine that it may have been even more valuable because of the tire data they already possessed, woith the caveat that experts can be just as wrong as you or I. 🙂

            Race laps were slow for Mercedes not because in race trim they were slow, but because after 3 -5 laps at the leaders pace they would lose the tires completely, so they had to run at a slower pace to preserve the tires. I think we are agreed on that, and the remarkable thing at Silverstone iwas how much more pace Lewis was driving with at the start of the race, though I put a chunk of that down to the updates on the W04.

            One more point if I may; I think a chunk of Ferrari’s pace this year was due to the fact that Pirelli had data from them last year while they were still designing the tires, and I think Lotus has had virtually a free ride in this regard, since their chassis has been the test bed for Pirelli. In fact, I only regard Force India as being the team that has actualy understood and designed around these tires, which according to Pirelli were meant to help teams with less money to spend on developing complex aero solutions for the rears.

            As far as the years worth of free ice cream, I believe Mercedes knew they were going to be in for it if word of the test got out, and that is why they not only went to Charlie, but also to the FIA legal department. As a result, they found themselves in a situation analagous to being waved through a stoplight by a policeman, only to be pulled over on the other side of the intersection by another policeman, and given a ticket. Yes, the infraction was serious, but the confusion was genuine, particularly when you throw in Pirelli’s contract, which allows for such testing to take place.

            And, the problem for me still is that Mercedes was not the first team Pirelli asked to do this test, they actually asked Red Bull first, as Horner has admitted. Had Red Bull gone ahead and done the test, then Mercedes would have been asked to do a later run no doubt. That makes their testing a coincidence for me, thankfully one which has provided all of us with lots of drama and plenty to talk about.

            The real culprit, of course, was the fact that the FIA rules prevent Pirelli from designing tires that are fair for the whole grid, because their ability to test with different cars was constrained. In fact, I’m astonished that they don’t require the teams to provide Pirelli once a year access to cars, following any GP at a permanent circuit. Then you could have scrutineering and exactly what data the team are allowed could be consistent and fair for everyone. Which I know risks a rap of the judges gavel. 🙂

            Lastly, given the shape of the rears are changing, it could be Merc are in for way less ice cream than they and we previously thought. The new shape could wreck all their aero development at the back, and any team that wishes would be able to take advantage of getting a sneak peek at them and steal a march. So free ice cream for a year might only apply to a flavor no longer produced.

  3. Prost: “the driver knows best about the tyres, they can feel the difference from lap to lap and turn to turn”

    Does this give some perspective to the so called Pirelli/Mercedes test?

    • In fact as an additional point, Senna had a massive testing accident in Hockenhem in 1987, where a tyre deflated and launched the car skywards. He explained that the active suspension compensated for the deflation and he had no sense of it’s failure.
      This same man having astounded Lotus throughout his time there when he could pick up on tyre pressure changes that the team had or hadn’t adjusted.

      • I just figured out your name yesterday web I saw it written with underscores somewhere else… Theretofore, I had been saying it as one word with a Japanese accent!

        Like when I first came to the states and was working in construction with the guy who everyone shouted “Hey, Zeus!” at…

        • I, likewise, had voiced it in my head in a fast, gruff, Japanese accent : ) . Update complete.

        • I think that is brilliant, especially as Senna was a demi-god in Japan.
          Yes I have posted on other sites, but there is something about this community which feels very different to anywhere else. As always, gratitude to TJ

    • He won the German GP in 2006 at Hockenheim. He also won at the Nurburgring in 2006 as well as in 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004.
      The race at the Nurburgring in those years was known as the Grand Prix of Europe.

  4. ‘…that they have become dependant on a team of nannies who tell them what to do.’
    But isn’t that the way they’ve been brought up…? 😉

    • “Maybe I’m getting old and intolerant…”, yes, as are we all. However, your premise that Kimi and other drivers should be making their own race key strategy decisions may not be a recipe for F1 success given that the pitwall can better see where in traffic the car is likely to be deposited after a stop.

      In the case of Kimi and the last safety car, Alain Permane, Lotus’ Trackside Operations Director has explained how it went on their pitwall.

      Mr. Permane: “Fernando was extremely fortunate with the timing of the safety car. Mark was on options that were fading fast… Nico’s lead was such that he had a free stop.”

      “Of the cars, like us, who were on hard tyres and planning to go to the end, Daniel and Adrian stayed out just like us. Based on the information we had at the time and what we believed the pace difference to the medium tyre would be, the call was made to stay out because we believed that our tyres were in good enough shape to run to the end in that position. Had we pitted for options and seen Kimi stuck behind Daniel and Adrian for the remainder of the race we would have been equally criticized, so it was a risk either way.”

      While the team has acknowledged they got it wrong, Kimi knows that they are also seeing the larger picture of the race better than he can.

      • So why apologise? If everyone in that situation made the same call – with the information available it was clearly the right call all factors considered and weighed.

        But it wasn’t

        And… we’re back to my persistent complaint of 2013 – the analysts are running the show – and they are nearly always too conservative.

        • Because a empty apology dissipates the situation.

          One must chose his battles wisely if he is to succeed.

        • One benefit of the 2013 spec Pirelli’s is that they’ve raised the importance of the driver’s abilities to efficiently manage his tyres as a factor in a team’s overall race pace. Alain Prost recognizes this, as per his comments. Prost was very good at being faster than most while concurrently saving his car’s resources. Any one who has raced on rubber with a short life-span, or been a part of a team racing on such tyres can appreciate that a driver being both faster and kinder to the equipment is a wonderfully valuable combination.

          Back to your complaint about teams being sometimes too conservative in their strategies this year, I too hope that teams and drivers continue to learn how to place higher value on the driver’s skills and analysis.

          • VM – Very much appreciate your contributions, know you’ve joined us relatively recently.

            I get accused of being anti Vettel, but the pressure that built up and popped his cork in Sepang was that he was being told all race to drive to a delta time.

            I get how much this wound him up. This is not Pirelli’s fault, it’s the analysts.

            He knew and argued during the race he could drive faster, as could Webber, but the team were telling them how fast to drive.

            Look how good the final laps were this weekend. Those who gambled on fresh rubber were cutting through the field and they were the ones who finished P1-4.

          • I believe I understand what you’re saying, and that I’m in agreement with you.

            Telling a driver to drive to a set laptime (not too fast, please!) seems to be wrong, upside down, and a recipe for under-performance. It devalues the abilities of their driver.

            Instead a team might be more successful by providing the driver with overall goal (example: have a particular set of tyres last 17 laps). Then let the driver know all the info, and let the driver manage the laptimes versus dictating a goal laptime. The driver knows best because he can feel what the car and tyres are doing.

            Lotus may have made a better choice if they directly solicited their Kimi’s input for their decision.

            I hope teams continue to move in the direction of relying more on their driver’s input and abilities when implementing strategies.

          • Exactly, because Prost’s argument was he knew when it was worth burning resource to make up a place and when it was better to bide his time.

            The strategists do not know any better what the cars around their driver are going to do – particularly with the removal of re-fueling – which just telegraphed a teams strategy to the rest based upon the amount of time the fuel hose was on.

          • That’s exactly how it should be.

            F1 has become too data-minded, in my humble opinion. For sure : it’s a very good thing to do your homework thoroughly and see what your tyres and your equipment can do in a given set of conditions, but ultimately it’s the driver who will be out there doing the job so he should be having some input strategy-wise.

            I didn’t know Senna was so good he could actually know whether his team reduced or increased tyre pressures… That’s f****** awesome. Given I have never driven an F1 car myself, it perhaps normal that I can’t imagine how exactly he could figure it out lol. But that’s also why F1 drivers are paid so much money for : they can feel things on the car that the average driver cannot.

          • I can tell changes in tyre pressure to my car easily – Mrs Judge on her jaunts regularly ‘kerbs’ the wheels and when I get behind the wheel once again I can feel a pull left or right.

            I admit I can’t tell whether it is front or back – that depends on how much breakfast I’ve had

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