Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 18th July 2013

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Table of contents… click on a title to go to the story.

Day 2 Young Driver test times (18:01)

Maldonado says the car has improved (17:55)

Indiscreet Wolff receives Daimler board support (16:24)

Caterham ‘fric’system (09:46)

Problems for Williams (09:46)

CVC: Feverish discussions behind the scenes (10:56)

Pirelli’s ‘spygate’ (11:04)

Vergne not in the running: Horner (11:28) updated

Why Pirelli testing does not excite top drivers (12:20)

GSK. The right fit for F1? (12:38)


Day 2 Young Driver test times

1) Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:32.972, 48 laps.
2. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:33.016, 39 laps.
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:33.187, 59 laps.
4. Davide Valsecchi, Lotus, 1:33.554, 91 laps.
5. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1:33.864, 97 laps.
6. James Calado, Force India, 1:33.957, 47 laps.
7. Antonio Felix da Costa, Red Bull, 1:33.958, 19 laps
8. Davide Rigon, Ferrari, 1:34.053, 97 laps.
9. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:34.116, 71 laps.
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:34.224, 52 laps.
11. Daniel Juncadella, Williams, 1:34.631, 33 laps.
12. Robin Frijns, Sauber, 1:34.731, 17 laps,
13. Will Stevens, Caterham, 1:36.082, 98 laps.
14. Paul Di Resta, Force India, 1:36.356, 41 laps.
15. Rodolfo Gonzalez, Marussia, 1:37.949, 92 laps.


Maldonado says the car has improved

Having done little running by yesterday, by mid-morning Williams were still struggling to get the car out on track this meant that Daniel Juncadella completed just 33 laps before he handed over to Pastor Maldonado for the afternoon.

The team’s race driver had a number of good runs clocking up 77 laps and he had this to say about the developing FW-35. “I think there is an improvement in terms of reliability and performance as well. Maybe the tyres are not quicker than what we had in the past, but they are very consistent, which is quite good. We don’t exactly have a clear idea because we don’t know, as always in the test, what the others are testing but it seems to be quite normal.”

The Williams car has been difficult and far inferior to their 2012 offering and Maldonado describes the being behind the wheel saying, “I’m not driving the car; I’m just following the car…”

There has been talk that Chavez may have delivered Pastor with a sponsorship fund prior to his death and this means the Venezuelan may remain in F1 in 2014. There is some suggestion that with the oil fund backing Pastor may be a target for Lotus in the coming year but he refuses to contemplate this.

“At the moment I’ve not been concentrating on next year. We have an order in the team which is to work very hard to try and fix the problems and improve our performance,” Maldonado said. 

“I really want to continue here. It’s one of the best places for a young driver to be. For sure we are not happy with the result of this year, we struggled quite a lot to improve the car and be quite competitive – everyone knows, everyone saw what we have this year. But the team have a great future, great potential and there’s no point to change.”

Of course Pat Symonds is joining the team and his experience guiding Renault to a double world championship may give some hope to Williams fans that they may return to some form in 2014.

Maldonado is not just looking to next year, he believes Symonds influence could have immediate results. “He is new in the team. We need some time to make everything work together. I think he’s been very successful in the past – it’s quite good. We hope to improve together, to work very hard and before the end of the season to achieve something very good.”


Indiscreet Wolff receives Daimler board support

F1 is if not anything, a ‘snake pit’ – to use Lauda’s analogy – where it’s ‘dog eat dog’ as everyone clambers to be ‘king of the hill’ (other such analogies from TJ13 readers are welcome).

We’ve seen this year Vettel vilified for disobeying team orders to further his own ends. Jenson has regularly been heard squealing on the car radio when his rookie team mate has bested him and the Mercedes chiefs have succumbed to their cannibalistic instincts.

Lauda tries to do an old style back door deal to avoid his team facing the International tribunal, whilst Brawn and Wolf oppose him and throw themselves on the mercy of the judges. Yesterday TJ13 reported that Toto Wolff was the possible victim of a bribery attempt believed to have been instigated by Colin Kolles.

Yet Kolles is respected by many in the paddock for his work with Force India and with the nigh on impossible task he faced at HRT. It’s difficult to believe he is capable of such a thing.

The facts as reported by Bild are that during a conversation in Barcelona during February testing, Wolff was disparaging about Ross Brawn, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Niki Lauda the Chairman of the Mercedes Formula 1 team. both Wolff and Kolles are tight lipped and refusing to comment on the matter and whether the police have begun an investigation.

In the meantime the Daimler board has issued a statement via Jörg Howe, the communications director says, “If you are successful, you will suffer some mud slinging. Toto Wolff enjoys our full confidence. Mercedes wants him to continue his successful work. “

Is this another draded vote of confidence?


Caterham ‘fric system

Following a day in the green goddess, Alexander Rossi revealed the days work had been mostly to do with Caterham’s version of a ‘fric’ system. “We were running a new mechanical system of balancing understeer and oversteer between high speed and low speed corners. Its something we have never run before, this was the first time. We understand what it does, and tomorrow will offer another chance to tune it”.

It appears much of this work is indeed for next year as Alexander adds, “The rule changes are so big that any idea you can get before the actual car comes to the track is going to be a benefit, so our focus was on the mechanical side of things, working a lot on trying things out for next year. It means going into next year we’re not bolting something on that has never had track mileage; we’ve done that now. Every day I get to drive an F1 car is good anyway, but running quite a few new things, and genuinely helping the team, was great.”

Rossi has only had the one FP1 outing previously and in that was in the 2012 car. but he is clear about the difference. “To be perfectly honest the 2012 and ’13 car are not massively different and I do have a lot of experience in the 2012 car, so putting this on I was very easily able to determine what the pros and cons were. This was the first time we’ve put it on the car and the initial impressions were very good. If the development continues, I think there will be a massive buzz in the factory because of it.”


Problems for Williams

Daniel Juncadella’s will be the beneficiary of what turned out to be a difficult day for Williams at Silverstone yesterday. The car was limited to just 55 laps due to an aero rake behaving in an unexpected manner. This took quite some time to resolve which meant Daniel was 45 laps short of the McLaren driver, Magnussen, who was quickest and racked up 100 laps – just under 2 GP’s distance.

Williams were going to test with Maldonado today, however Juncadella will now take over this afternoon. “Because the morning was cut short due to some issues, I didn’t get all the running that was planned. They are giving me a chance to do some laps tomorrow”. 

It’s clear Juncadella is keen to get a benchmark on how quick he is from his comment, “Running the same day as Pastor, although we have different programmes, we have the real comparison on track. That’s a pretty good thing because I can really learn from him in the same day, so it’s a good chance.”

Daniel was obviously pushing hard when he got the opportunity, “We did a few new tyre runs and also a long run to evaluate myself and give me some confidence with the car on both sets of tyres. I felt really good with the car and when we had the new tyres, I took the most from them for my experience right now on the first lap, which is usually where you have to make the difference and use the peak of the tyre“.


CVC: Feverish discussions behind the scenes

TJ13 is led to believe that the board members who control the rights for Formula 1, spent a tortuous amount of time discussing the matter. The result would not suggest so as they released the following statement.

“The Board of Formula One Group notes the following developments in Munich:

Mr Ecclestone, CEO of Formula One Group has now received a bill of indictment, in English, from the Munich Regional Court.

Mr Ecclestone has 6 weeks to provide a response to this bill of indictment, prior to a decision being made by the Court on opening proceedings.

The Board will continue to monitor developments in this situation accordingly“.

Clearly F1’s Mr. Teflon is in unchartered waters and the signs are not good. Yet when asked whether he should step down by Bild, Eclestone responded, “I don’t see why I should do that. I will do what I have always done: keep working and do my job. I won’t be doing anything else because of this.”

I recently read an independent F1 writer suggest Bernie may ‘disappear’ to a South American country with his billions and avoid extradition. People who know Ecclestone realise this is a ridiculous idea, yet the possibility of 6-7 years in a German prison with his old colleague Gribkowsky could force Ecclestone to change his ‘devil may care’ attitude to it all.

For now, Bernie says he will attend the Munich court should the matter go to trial. “If I need to be, sure, I’ll be there. Why not?” Bernie added that yesterday’s ruling had, “not really affected” him.

This may be so but there are other forces at work which CVC must consider.

Mercedes have informed the FIA and CVC that their involvement in F1 is qualified, and that certain criteria may trigger their departure should corruption become a matter of public record. Whilst just a few people know the exact clauses and how they are written, it is believed that should the trial commence, Mercedes have demanded Ecclestone be replaced.

It’s no co-incidence that Luca de Montezemolo demanded last year that Ecclestone ‘step down’ should formal charges of bribery be brought, and Il Padrino does not forget what he says.

Ecclestone’s lawyers said they would respond to the charges shortly. “The main topic of the response will be the changing ‘confessions’ of Mr. Gribkowsky,” Duesseldorf-based law firm Thomas Deckers Wehnert Elsner said in an e-mailed statement”.

There is almost a sense of the quiet before the storm at present. It is fairly likely a trial will be scheduled by the Munich court and so there is this period of 6 weeks where feverish discussions will be taking place across F1 on what should happen if a trial date is eventually set.

For now CVC back their man and the mouthpiece of FOM, Christian Sylt informs us that a source inside CVC told him that they “could have asked Bernie to leave any time in the past three years but haven’t because we support him“.

Yet in all likelihood and somewhat sadly Bernie has just 6 weeks left.


Pirelli’s ‘spygate’

A Milan court handed the chairman of tyre maker Pirelli, Marco Tronchetti Provera, a 20 month suspended jail sentence yesterday in a case involving the use of Telecom Italia’s data to spy on Italy’s elite.

Tronchetti Provera, one of Italy’s most prominent businessmen who was head of Telecom Italia from 2001 to 2006, was convicted on charges of receiving illegal information from stolen phone data in 2004. He was also ordered to pay 900,000 euros ($1.2 million) to the telecoms company.

A lawyer for Tronchetti Provera, who denies any wrongdoing, said there was “no logic” in the verdict and that he would appeal. The sentence will not take effect until the appeal process is exhausted.

The case centres on accusations that some Telecom Italia employees spied on Italian public figures by stealing sensitive data.

Tronchetti Provera was not in court. In the past he has repeatedly said Telecom Italia had reported the suspected abuse to the authorities and had seen its reputation damaged as a result.

It would be fascinating to know the scope of Mercedes corruption opt out clause.

Vergne not in the running: Horner

Speaking to SKY, Christian Horner was asked whether the replacement for Webber was between Ricciardo and Raikkonen. He responded that categorically it was “Essentially, probably“.

Known for his shy and retiring demeanour, the Red Bull boss begins most sentences with “Yes…No” whilst buying himself some time to think of other qualifications he can use in his relentless pursuit of not answering a direct question.

JEV must be feeling pretty sore because he outscored his team mate in 2012 and is leading him in the driver standings in 2013. TJ13 did report that Ricciardo had a secret test last Sunday in Idiada and is aware the Red Bull management are unsurprisingly divided over who should drive alongside Vettel in 2014.

UPDATE: TJ13 has heard that Christian Horner is keen to get Raikkonen and Ted Kravitz reports Bernie is also pushing to see the two paired together. However, Herr Marko – who runs the team’s young driver programme – is concerned it may be falling somewhat into disrepute.

We saw the mysterious double sacking of both Toro Rosso drivers at the end of 2011, Robin Frijns turned down an offer to be a ‘young bull’ preferring Sauber and a Ferrari association. There are those who believe should the programme continue failing to deliver another top flight driver since Vettel is a matter for concern with the team owner – Mateshitz.

But what do you think about Red Bull’s decision to exclude JEV from the selection process? Why have they done this – is it right or wrong?


Why Pirelli testing does not excite top drivers

The penalty handed down by the International Tribunal to Mercedes – that they should miss the YDT at Silverstone – was derided by many as no penalty at all. Yet we are seeing now that testing for Pirelli may not be as advantageous as was first thought.

Max Chilton explains the restrictions the race drivers are facing this week. “We are allowed the current hard, the proto[type] hard and one set of mediums. Jules [Bianchi] is going to have the set of mediums on Friday, we decided to go with the hard because we had limited time to get just a long race run in on these proto hards and we now know how they work.

There’s set pressures, we weren’t allowed to adjust the car at all. The only thing we could change was brake balance and a flap of front wing. That’s why the race drivers are just doing lots of laps and not really setting [competitive] times.”

Chilton concedes though that he has benefited from trying out the new Pirelli rubber. “I did a long race run stint at the end and I could really get a feel of what these new tyres are like so at least I know what these tyres are doing. They’re harder to get the tyre temp up and they don’t have as much grip, but they last very well and they are very consistent.”

Di Resta appears non-plussed by the change Pirelli have made which has clearly affected the Silverstone team. He droly observes of the new tyres, “they are round, they have the same logos on the side!” 

Former McLaren garage crew Mark Priestly adds his view in a series of tweet, “YDT useful for F1 teams in an era without testing, not only to develop cars, but to give young/new team members experience at the track. Assistant engineers/no.2 mechs given chance to run cars for experience. 

Traditional route of team development no longer exists without tests. Only in last few years has it become clear how hard it now is to introduce new engineering talent without chance to ‘bed’ them in at tests.

The upshot is that this week’s as much of a chance & learning opportunity for rising tech stars within teams as it is for the young drivers.”


GSK. The right fit for F1?

There are days where if you take public transport in England, 3 busses will all arrive at the same time. Today is dirt and corruption day as CNN reports.

Like many other multinationals over the past few decades, GlaxoSmithKline came to China for the chance to sell to 1.3 billion new customers in the world’s fastest growing drugs market.

The company has invested heavily here, setting up clinical centers and research facilities in Tianjin and Shanghai. The drugmaker boasts that it has spent more than 1 billion yuan on research and development in China.

GlaxoSmithKline now stands accused of orchestrating a massive bribery and corruption scheme that included hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks in China. Four of the company’s top executives have been detained by police and others have reportedly left the country.

It’s not yet clear how much damage the scandal will do to GSK’s reputation or bottom line. But the episode underscores the challenges of doing business in China, an enormous, rapidly developing market in which bribes and corruption are often deeply ingrained.

“There are certain industries where corruption is still very common,” said Ben Cavender, an associate principal at China Market Research Group. The pharmaceutical industry, he said, is one in which bribery is endemic.

“GSK is not special in terms of what they do,” Cavender said. “Most companies in this sector are probably using kickbacks or bribes.”

It’s not yet clear whether the GlaxoSmithKline allegations are tied to a probe of price setting practices at 60 pharmaceutical companies announced last month by authorities. But there are signs that investigators might soon name and shame more drug companies as part of a larger anti-corruption crackdown.

Wendy Wysong, head of Clifford Chance’s anti-corruption practice in Asia Pacific, said Tuesday that her law firm is aware of four other pharmaceutical companies that are being investigated by local anti-corruption authorities.

Wysong declined to name the companies or say whether she represented any of the firms in question.

GSK of course partner McLaren and may become their title sponsor replacing Vodafone in 2014. Looks as though they are a perfect fit for F1.


36 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 18th July 2013

  1. Not too sure that the Juncadella extension has anything to do with getting a benchmark, could just as well be the number of guaranteed laps in his testing contract…

  2. Did Bernie take the words of wisdom from that other “teflon Don”, perhaps a little too seriously?

    “Always be nice to bankers. Always be nice to pension fund managers. Always be nice to the media. In that order”.
    John Gotti.

    • We aim to please 🙂

      It’s a little fiddly and will take some contributors time to learn. If a link doesn’t work – feel free to point it out.

      It’s a shame it doesn’t jump to the point on the page which includes the heading – it is the first line of the article

      • That confuses me as in Firefox it does jump to the heading.

        Where you put the ID tag determines where it jumps to. AIUI the id tag doesn’t need to be part of the heading, you could do a separate before the heading.

        May be worth trying as if that does work then it would be easier to add a separate tag rather than having to incorporate the article title in it?

      • I am deeply grateful for this – and it looks smarter as well – and it jumps to the title in Safari…

  3. Concerning Riccardo Vergne I think it is another time points don’t reflect the true story.

    head to head qualifying Ricardo vs Vergne = 16-4
    head to head race when both finished Ric vs Vergne = 8-7

    head to head qualifying Ricardo vs Vergne = 6-3
    head to head race when both finished Ric vs Vergne = 1-1

    On a rookie I think they would be looking at the raw speed which is shown in qualifying.

  4. HaHa GSK embarrassed by corruption, they’re a giant pharmaceutical corporation. So I did a quick Google Dive and found the following in the not entirely useless New York Times from 6 days ago. Pot meet Kettle:

    “SHANGHAI — Chinese investigators said Thursday that executives from GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug giant, had admitted to using bribes, kickbacks and other fraudulent means to bolster drug sales in China.”


    Looks to me like they’re a perfect fit for F1. 😀

    Apparently blackmail and bribery are now the rule and not the exception, though I suspect it was ever thus and we simply hear about it more often. /cynicism

  5. The new format is looking great. Makes it easy to find the updates stories now. One problem, the GSK story isn’t showing up correctly at the moment – 12:49pm.

  6. First I like the ‘Table of Contents’ part you have added.

    My comments relate to the ‘RBR/Kimi/JEV situation and this is just my opinion.

    When selecting a Driver these days it is more than just about driver talent, yes they are looking for talent, but also personality/charisma, commercial appeal, do they bring sponsorship(Not that RBR need it), etc just to name a few.
    With JEV I realise he may have out scored his team mate, but when I seen him interviewed I don’t get much personality/charisma shinning through. Thats why I think everyone thinks Kimi would be an ideal fit for RBR because he ticks all the boxes, whether he goes or not is kimi’s decision, and the problem will be that if Kimi doesn’t go then the other driver will be seen as a number 2 driver.

    I don’t see Toro Rosso lasting much longer if they don’t use it properly if it’s meant to be a development team for potential future drivers.

    Anyway thats just my opinion.

    • I’m probably going against the current here, but I don’t think it’s Kimi’s decision whether he goes or not, no matter what is conveyed outside. Trust me, Vettel does have a say in it, they won’t want to upset their lead driver especially with the new regs coming in. Vettel hasn’t reached his ‘use by’ date yet as Schuey did in 2006.

      • I didn’t say it was Kimi’ decision since RBR got to decide eventually who they go with, kimi just has to decide whether he would want to go if offered, obviously Vettel would get a say in the decision whether that would be enough to Veto any move, depends on Marko/Top People. Vettel still got many years left, didn’t say he was past his sell by date yet.

    • IF you were going to choose a driver entirely on merit (but let’s face it, who does THAT anymore?) conventional wisdom is you choose quick, because you can’t teach that. But I am beginning to think that smart might be even harder to teach, and RB have probably spent more time looking at market research (or at least as much time) in coming to who they want.

      Personally, I feel like JEV would probably be the equal of Ricciardo over the long run and the thing that does it for me is not only is he already a fairly mature driver in terms of race strategy, but he is quick as all in the rain. If ever there were a fairer test of driving skill, it would be laps and quali on full wets, and JEV is the winner there.

      BUT Vettel is European and Ricciardo Australian (conveniently the same nationality as their departing driver) which gives them access to the entire South Pacific region, including Thailand, original home of Red Bull. So from a business point of view, Ricciardo, hands down. OR Kimi, who brings his own fan base, but really Ricciardo.

          • Ha Ha, would enjoy seeing”Cowboy” back in the saddle, but I wrote South Pacific, thinking more of Malaysia Thailand Bali NZ and other places that get lots of Aussie visitors, not SE Asian.

            Although, now you mention it, it would be intriguing to see Vettel’s reaction to being paired with the”Cucumber” after publicly saying he doesn’t care who they pick. 😀

          • I think Vettel’s reaction to a signing of Karthikeyan would be hysterical laughter.

            I think it would be more interesting to see Mateschitz’s reaction to one Red Bull consistently failing to make it out of the lower points ranks or actually into the points at all. Karthikeyan makes Chilton look like WDC material. They’d have to be window-licking mad to even contemplate that.

  7. Thank you for the new format. May I suggest two additional changes, my $0.02:

    1. Reverse the order in which the posts appear, i.e. the newest should be first.
    2. Perhaps each post could be it’s own blog entry with it’s own comments section (rather than a single omnibus daily blog entry with multiple posts and one comments section).

    Thanks for the blog, I enjoy reading it.

  8. Funny lead times in the YTD day 2

    1. Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:32.972, 48 laps; 2. Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:33.367, 8 laps;

      • Oddly though even after 50-odd laps he was still faster in the STR… That is even odder as presumably his work in the STR would be concentrated on the tyres using a setup prescribed by Pirelli, while the work on the Red Bull would include upgrades.

        Although, of course, they may have asked him not to set representative lap times during the upgrade testing – do we have access to sector times as well as lap times for this test?

        • Nope, he couldn’t do anything else but Pirelli work on the Red Bull either as he’s not qualified as a ‘young driver’ regardless which car he sits in. Since Pirelli chose the setup and tyres for the cars, the times of the ‘established drivers’ are completely meaningless. If they chose to test a softer compund on the STR and a harder one on the RB, the times make sense.
          Also you have to keep in mind that you can’t just hop into an unfamiliar car and drive it to its potential immediately. Lewis needed 5 full GP’s to get up to speed in the Merc.

          • Ah, good point! I’m missed that subtlety….

            Makes better sense now, plus the tyre choice information makes it clearer still. Amazing how a little background helps us understand much better.

  9. Hi, watched the testing got some great pics, was interesting, you could see who could hit the apex and who couldn’t. Daniel in the redbull couldn’t hit the apex for love nor money, looked like he just couldn’t brake in time, wonder if the toro stops better than the redbull, just a thought.

    As for silverstone, changed loads since I last went and fell on my face trying to push the car out of the mud. But it’d of been bloody helpful if they labeled up the ticket box, rather several attendants sending me on a wild goose chase.

    Ps redbull were the only ones to tape bits to the back of their car, so we couldn’t see it in the pits. Did think of paying a kid a fiver to run an nick the bit of plastic, and takes some pics :). And Ferrari were really open.

    • The RB is tailor made for Vettels driving style and that is rather ‘unique’. Vettel relies on rear downforce,m basically ‘very slow in lightening fast out’ is Vettel’s cornering. he basically corners the car with the brakes ansd not too many people can manage that. Mark never could in 4 years.

  10. The interesting thing will be – do Williams resist the temptation to send Susie out in qualifying trim to create headlines today. I’d really like to have a somewhat realistic result (not only for my part III of ex umbra in solem), because I think she’s better than given credit for. Go Susie 🙂

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