Daily #F1 News and Comment: Sunday 18th August 2013

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Formula One Tyre Reform 12:00

Marko Watch, he’s at it again 12:00
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Formula One Tyre Reform

The first race on the ‘new’ old tyres has been run. Who has profited and who has lost out? For Ferrari, Force India and Toro Rosso there seems to be no question about that. These three teams consider themselves as victims of Pirelli’s mid-season U-turn. Meanwhile, Mercedes, McLaren, Sauber and Williams on the other hand profited from the return to the 2012 construction.

Pirelli’s hand was forced in the return to the old style of tyres after several blow-ups.  The reintroduction, as was demanded by Red Bull and Mercedes, have a belt now made of Kevlar instead of Steel.  This lowers tyre temperatures by 10 degrees.  Furthermore, the shoulder of the tyre is more round, meaning the tyre deforms less under high lateral loads.

The tyre takes much longer to heat up, which Force India know only too well.  Their qualifying was compromised by the fact they struggle to get the tyres into the correct working window of temperature.  Paul Di Resta’s relatively conservative driving style will not help this issue.

One team that this will help is the Brackley based outfit, Mercedes GP.  The tyres will not degrade as quickly when at the crucial operating temperature, thus ensuring a longer life for the new tyres.  A more aggressive setup is once again a possibility for the Silver Arrows, which means there is more than a challenge for pole position for the Red Bulls.

Their designer, Adrian Newey considers the mixing of this year’s compound with last year’s tyre design a nonsense, saying, “This could cause new problems later in the season.  Why doesn’t Pirelli simply return to the 2012 tyres?”

Force India say they feels punished following the change of tyres.  Technical director, Andy Green, summarises this by saying, “We designed our car specifically for the 2013 tyres. That’s why we could run extreme suspension settings and tyre pressures without ruining the tyres. If the others couldn’t do that, they just didn’t do their jobs properly.”

They clearly feel some favouritism being shown towards the top teams, and rightly so.  With a superior design on their cars, Force India could afford to run lower tyre pressures and higher camber angles than their opponents, and they are the inventors of the tyre switching trick.

We switched the tyres from one side to the others as early as the winter test and we were surprised how long it took the other teams to find out,” sporting director Otmar Szafnauer says.

The changing tyre constellation is also a problem for Marussia, who feel their car design has been weakened.  With a lower budget (and consequently less manpower), they are severely disadvantaged.  This, along with the fact that development is being shifted towards 2014 car design and Pat Symonds leaving for Williams, it could be difficult second half of the season for them.

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Marko Watch, he’s at it again
It’s unlike Dr Helmut Marko to remain silent in the F1 world for too long. When he has had a period of low public statements, it’s almost like the calm before the storm. The pressure suddenly drops, as a warm front is pulled over the paddock, over from Austria. There is very much so the feeling of the ‘calm before the storm.’

Following this analogy, yesterday was the crackling of thunder throughout the Ardennes Forest (known for it’s wet weather) before the downpour. Marko gave the strongest indication yet, that Daniel Ricciardo would be joining Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

German publication, Sport Bild online reported Ricciardo will be officially named as the successor to fellow Australian, Mark Webber, at Spa next weekend. In what can only be described as textbook Marko, the Austrian added fuel to the fire by refusing to deny these reports. He said, “We will make no announcement until Spa. I cannot say more than that.

One thing that should be noted is the power struggle that is still going on in Milton Keynes. Marko has once again won, as it was he who was pushing for the young Australian to take the seat, rather than anyone else. Christian Horner must surely be more than a little frustrated at this defeat, as once again he has been sent away to lick his wounds. The real kick in the teeth for him would be if Ricciardo now turns out to be a huge success. On that note, only time will tell…
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