Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 6th September

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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Alonso believes Sainz Jnr will drive for Toro Rosso (12:18)

Monza FP1: Silver Arrows on top of the Bulls (13:24)

Sirotkin test programme outlined (13:36)

Ricciardo too fat?  (13:49)

Kimi gets the long wheel based E21 (13:56)

Monza FP2: The Bulls fight back (16:26)

Pirelli Monza Friday Practice Report (19:58)

Caterham Advances – Concept Road Car (20:30)

Parable of the lost son – Lewis to return? (21:00)

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Alonso suggests Sainz Jnr will drive for Toro Rosso

A meeting in Hungary between Christian Horner and Fernando Alonso’s manager was at the time touted as evidence Alonso may be looking to join Red Bull. Sport Bild reported that Red Bull had confirmed that the meeting in the team’s motor home took place at Alonso manager Luis Garcia Abad’s behest. Photos of the meeting were even published, raising the tantalising prospect of Alonso buying out the rest of his long and lucrative Ferrari deal to join arch-rival Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull in 2014.

TJ13 reported earlier this week that the discussions taking place within the Red Bull family at present over which new driver would be recruited to drive for Toro Rosso were centred around Carlos Sainz Jnr. Alonso and Sainz Jnr share the same manager Luis Garcia Abad.

During the FIA press conference yesterday, Alonso was asked the following by Bob McKenzie of the Daily Express.

Fernando, your name was mentioned a few times in the Red Bull situation. Were you at all interested in the Red Bull seat? Would you have gone up against Vettel or do you think you’ll finish at Ferrari? Would you be interested in going to Red Bull at any time in the future?”

Alonso’s response was most interesting.

“It was only rumours, a lot of rumours. There were rumours about Red Bull, there were rumours in Italy about a sabbatical year, there were so many rumours. I still have three and a half more years with Ferrari which I intend to respect and hopefully to increase a little bit, and as I said, finish my career in the best team in the world which is Ferrari.

We are not at the moment achieving the results that we want but we are working very hard and next year will be completely new rules which obviously open the door for many teams to stop the domination that Red Bull seems to have had in the last couple of years so we have high hopes also for next year’s challenge.

About the news that now Red Bull have two drivers, it’s very good news that Daniel has signed, also for our country because it has opened up a good possibility for Carlos Sainz to join Toro Rosso, so that was the best news for us”.

Is Alonso doing a Webber? Webber ruined the Red Bull extended mystery by announcing in Spa it would be Ricciardo who replaced him at Red Bull.

The Spanish media have picked this up this story and the ‘Marca’ newspaper reports that the Red Bull management was “amazed” at Sainz “speed, professionalism and his detailed briefing of technical matters to the engineers” when he tested  earlier this year at Silverstone.

Another Spanish daily, AS, says there is a chance Sainz will drive the Toro Rosso on Friday in Singapore. In the meantime the Spanish motor racing federation are feverously working on ways to fulfil the super license criteria for the young protégé.

The assumption in the paddock this weekend is that Felix de Costa is now second favourite to Sainz Jnr for the vacant Toro Rosso seat. However, TJ13 reported Tuesday this week that Herr Marko is agitating for a complete new line up for the Red Bull No.2 team. This would mean both De Costa and Sainz Jnr will be recruited and the unlucky Jean-Eric Vergne will be shown the door.

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Monza FP1: Silver Arrows on top of the Bulls

Pos Driver                Team                    Time      Gap     Laps

1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                1m25.565s          24

2. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1m25.600s +0.035s  25

3. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1m25.704s +0.139s  25

4. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1m25.753s +0.188s  26

5. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault           1m25.941s +0.376s  22

6. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes        1m26.007s +0.442s  24

7. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1m26.035s +0.470s  23

8. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1m26.103s +0.538s  27

9. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault        1m26.149s +0.584s  21

10. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m26.155s +0.590s  25

11. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari          1m26.194s +0.629s  25

12. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           1m26.295s +0.730s  23

13. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m26.387s +0.822s  21

14. Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1m26.449s +0.884s  16

15. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1m26.594s +1.029s  13

16. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault        1m26.802s +1.237s  21

17. James Calado          Force India-Mercedes    1m27.041s +1.476s  24

18. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari          1m27.224s +1.659s  16

19. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault        1m27.818s +2.253s  24

20. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth       1m27.869s +2.304s  20

21. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault        1m28.192s +2.627s  21

22. Rodolfo Gonzalez      Marussia-Cosworth       1m29.526s +3.961s  26

A mere 0.188secs covered the top 4 cars in FP1 today, which is incredible given the nature of the first outings at a race weekend F1 drivers undertake and the top 14 cars were covered by less than 1 second.

Lewis who has struggled early in some of the recent GP weekends will be pleased with his 1:25.565s lap which topped the time sheets as the chequered flag fell. Rosberg was third and this will give the Silver Arrows confidence their car is generally on the pace, and if Lewis delivers his usual barnstorming late run in qualifying, pole position and even a front row lockout could be achievable.

Alonso will also be satisfied with the performance of the car, as he stated yesterday he needs to consistently finish ahead of Vettel, though it should be said that the RB7 in which Vettel won the race in 2011 was then 10kph slower than the best time through the speed gun.

Webber was a disappointing 8th and it would not be unreasonable if his will to win has lost some of the edge we have seen in previous years.

JEV will feel somewhat mollified thus far as he managed to finish 3 p[laces ahead of the new Red Bull star Daniel Ricciardo, but the lights on his F1 career look to be fading fast.

James Calado had an impressive debut just 2 places and 0.447s behind the sister Force India driven by Di Resta, but the session was a disappointment for Heikki Kovaleinen who finished nearly 4 tenths slower than team mate Charles Pic.

Rodolfo Gonzalez will also be disappointed, ending up plumb last and over 1,3s slower than 21st placed Kovalainen.

BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson observed, “Mercedes are looking in pretty good shape. The big question is: can they look after their tyres? This is, after all, only the second race with the new tyre spec that was introduced as a solution for the multiple failures at Silverstone. They have a decent level of downforce and a decent-looking front wing.

Ferrari are in pretty good shape, but I think there is more to come from them. They have been trying different front wing assemblies and I’ve been told they have a different rear wing to try in the second session. They’re probably just waiting for a bit more rubber to go down on the track so it is in a more representative condition.

It’s business as usual for Red Bull. Visually, they have the smallest rear wing of all the top teams but the car generates so much underbody downforce that they can do that and still keep good braking stability.”

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Sirotkin test programme outlined

F1’s youngest 2014 driver – as we are led to believe – will begin a testing programme soon to fulfil the requirements for his FIA super license.

Monisha Kaltenborn reveals that the track programme will be undertaken in a 2 year old F1 car. This will involve between 10-15 days track time but as yet it is unclear whether this will be performed in a Ferrari or a Sauber.

Speaking to F1news.ru, Sirotkin says, “I don’t have much information about what I have to do, but I know I have to perform well.”

Kaltenborn adds, “We have to prepare him physically, so we want to give him test kilometres in a 2011 car. The exact dates and the tracks are not yet finalised, but the tests should take place shortly after the end of the season. We’re also planning some work in a simulator, but we still need to clarify when and where’.

As to who will partner the young driver in the sister car next year, Sirotkin commented, “I don’t think it’s time to address this issue. As for me, in Moscow I signed a contract for 2014, so everything is going according to plan.”

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Ricciardo too fat? 

Some reports I read are quite bizarre. Bild are reporting that Herr Marko has suggested getting Daniel Ricciardo into the cockpit of the RB10 will be a squeeze.  Newey is known for his ‘tight packaging’, but Mark Webber is hardly likely to have ever been able to have had an alternative career as a race horse jockey.

Anyway, apparently at a recent seat fitting, it emerged that the team’s latest recruits hips are too wide for the RB10.

Marko believes that Daniel will be committed to reducing his weight saying, “He doesn’t really eat bacon anyway. But maybe he will have to do some special training to trim some muscle in certain places.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the size of Ricciardo’s hip bones will not respond to the latest ‘Slimfast’ programme or even a boot camp regime of bread and water.

My advice would be to our Aussie friend would be to steer clear of that poison they serve in tins inside the ‘energy station’.

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Kimi gets the long wheel based E21

Mark Slade, Kimi’s race engineer said last night, “Kimi will drive the long wheelbase on Friday, and if necessary we can go back to the shorter version. But we expect this car to be better.”

The Finn does not expect even this will give him the opportunity to win at the Italian GP. “Low downforce tracks are not good for us, but let’s see how the new parts work.”

The car is about 10cm longer than the original E21 and it is the protocol of the team to give Raikkonen the new parts before Grosjean as in Silverstone only he had the passive DRS system fitted to his car.

Asked if Ferrari or Lotus would be design a better car for 2014, Raikkonen drawled, “I’ve no idea. In general, bigger teams have more money and resources to make a good car. But the rules are so different next year that we will not know what the situation is until we see the new cars on the track.”

At the time of writing it is 54 minutes into FP2 and Kimi and Romain’s times are identical – 1:25.116

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FP2: The Bulls fight back

Pos Driver                Team                    Time        Gap    Laps

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1m24.453s           39
2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1m25.076s  +0.623s  39
3. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault           1m25.116s  +0.663s  36
4. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           1m25.116s  +0.663s  40
5. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1m25.330s  +0.877s  38
6. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                1m25.340s  +0.887s  39
7. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1m25.367s  +0.914s  42
8. Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1m25.519s  +1.066s  29
9. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1m25.532s  +1.079s  42
10. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes        1m25.627s  +1.174s  39
11. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1m25.830s  +1.377s  40
12. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari          1m25.888s  +1.435s  40
13. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1m26.028s  +1.575s  37
14. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault        1m26.138s  +1.685s  36
15. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m26.224s  +1.771s  32
16. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari          1m26.385s  +1.932s  43
17. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1m26.599s  +2.146s  39
18. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault        1m27.198s  +2.745s  44
19. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth       1m27.548s  +3.095s  30
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault        1m27.696s  +3.243s  37
21. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault        1m27.771s  +3.318s  38
22. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth       1m28.057s  +3.604s  32

FP2 was quite different from FP1. Only the top 7 cars were within 1 second of Vettel who was over half a second quicker than his team mate who again suffered with KERS issues.

Vettel’s long run pace was also impressive, though matched closely by soon to be ex-team mate Mark Webber.

Vettel commented at the end of the session, “It was a good day, that’s for sure, but we’ve got our feet on the ground. It’s still only a Friday. I don’t know, maybe the others had some problems. But regarding ourselves, it was a good day, I didn’t have any issues with the car, it felt pretty comfortable.

I’m sure it will be very tight, as we saw in first practice. Second practice, if you look at it too much, is a bit of a distraction. I think it will be close tomorrow in qualifying, with many cars in a couple of hundredths.”

Yet the triple world champion had issues with his car too. “Obviously you always try to optimise. There’s always two or three things, even though the car was great, there are still two or three corners where you slide a bit more than you like.

“Surely today was positive, but it’s a long weekend. We’ll see what we can improve for tomorrow. I thought the balance was pretty strong, that’s a positive, but there’s always something that you can find tune.”

Next on the time sheets were the 2 Lotus’ though the long wheel base of Kimi’s car appears to have little advantage over Grosjean’s shorter version as the recorded times identical to the thousandth of a second..

In 5th we saw Alonso, and the 2 Mercedes found themselves in a Ferrari sandwich between the Spaniard and Felipe Massa.

Whilst unable to repeat the form of FP1, Lewis Hamilton can take comfort in the fact that in the 3 most recent GP weekends – when Vettel has been quickest on Friday – Hamilton has come good and claimed pole the following day.

McLaren were 9th and 10th and continued the almost perfect Noah’s ark parade as the top 10 were practically 2 by 2.

Ricciardo was again slower than Vergne and surprisingly it was Chilton who leads the race amongst the usual bottom four.

BBC F1 analyst Gary Anderson said: “It’s Friday, so we have to take the times with a small pinch of salt, but whoever is quick, is quick, and it looks like Red Bull are in a fairly dominant position, which is not great for everyone else. I still think there is something in the Ferrari, though. And I expect the lap times to be closer in qualifying than they are today.

Interestingly, the Red Bulls are running with a greater disparity of aerodynamic set-up than I have seen for some time. Vettel appears to have less front wing and more rear wing and Webber the other way around. It will be interesting to see if they converge on Saturday – as in fact they did in Spa last time out.”

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Pirelli Monza Friday Practice Report

The teams used the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres for free practice at Monza today: the ‘temple of speed’ close to Pirelli’s headquarters in Milan. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the day towards the end of the afternoon session, with a benchmark of 1m24.453s on the medium tyre. This was nearly one second faster than the equivalent session last year when Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set a fastest time of 1m25.290s.

Conditions were hot and dry today, which is expected to be the case for the rest of the weekend. The drivers used only the hard tyre during the first 90-minute session this morning, before trying out the medium tyre as well in the more representative qualifying and race conditions in the afternoon. With many teams bringing a specific aerodynamic package for Monza, the teams concentrated on optimising the set-up to the tyres, as well as carrying out qualifying and race simulations with different fuel loads.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said:The performance of the tyres was completely in line with our expectations today on what is one of the most challenging and atmospheric circuits that we visit all year, although we are obviously only at the very beginning of the weekend and there is a lot of data left to analyse.

From what we can see so far, degradation and wear are at the levels we anticipated, with a performance gap of around a second between the two compounds – although this will come down as the circuit evolves. We’ll be looking carefully at all the data tonight, but so far we are on course for two pit stops for most drivers, with some cars perhaps trying a one-stopper.

Monza has a number of different characteristics that sets it apart from most of the other circuits we visit this year, principally its sustained high speed, and this means that the set-up and subsequent effect on tyre usage is a key area. Consequently, the work carried out during free practice normally has a very important bearing on the race.

This element of the grand prix, together with the characteristics of our tyres, allows several opportunities for strategy, which only adds to the spectacle offered by this famous and very popular circuit. Once more we’ve received a tremendous welcome and fantastic support from all the fans and we’re very appreciative of that.

FP1: FP2:
1. Hamilton  1m25.565s  Hard Used 1. Vettel  1m24.453s  Medium New
2. Alonso  1m25.600s  Hard Used 2. Webber  1m25.076s  Medium New
3. Rosberg  1m25.704s  Hard Used 3. Raikkonen  1m25.116s  Medium New

Tyre statistics of the day:

   Medium  Hard  Intermediate  Wet
kms driven * 2,357 5,300  N/A  N/A
sets used overall ** 22 44  N/A  N/A
highest number of laps ** 30 29  N/A  N/A

* The above number gives the total amount of kilometres driven in FP1 and FP2 today, all drivers combined.
** Per compound, all drivers combined.

May the Force be with you:

Max. g-force braking (longitudinal force):  -4.77 @ T1
Max. g-force cornering (lateral force):   4.35 @ T10

Pirelli facts of the day:

  • Pirelli has been based in Milan, around half an hour from Monza, ever since Giovanni Battista Pirelli founded the company in 1872 – but the Italian tyre maker’s head office moved to its present site, in the Bicocca district of Milan, in 1907. The company’s buildings were housed within the ‘Pirelli Citadel’ off Viale Sarca, shaped like an ancient fortress. By the end of the 1930s, the factory had reached its peak in size and by 1950 there were more than 12,000 employees. It was a real village, which even had its own railway line to transport products between the warehouses. These days, Pirelli (the fifth-largest tyre manufacturer in the world) employs over 37,000 people in more than 160 countries.
  • The thermal camera images that were shown during free practice on television today provide interesting data on the temperatures that the tyres go through at this high-speed track. When the tyres come out of the blankets, their temperature is around 80-90 degrees Celsius. During a lap, the tyres will heat up to a surface temperature of around 130 degrees out of La Roggia whereas it will go down to as low as 80 degrees before entering La Roggia. The second highest sector in regards to temperature is the long and fast Parabolica (125 degrees), followed by Ascari (120 degrees).

Under heavy braking or lock-ups, the temperatures can reach higher but this won’t last longer than a few seconds.

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Caterham Advances – Concept Road Car

When Tony Fernandes established Lotus Racing back in 2010 the idea was to buy out Lotus and become involved in producing road cars. With Dany Bahar at the helm of Lotus a major battle ensured over the name Lotus and who was allowed to go race with it. The end result was Fernandes bought Caterham Cars to build his empire of road cars.

It now appears he is one step closer to realising his dream.

Caterham F1 Team’s racecars, driven by Charles Pic (#20) and Giedo van der Garde (#21), will bear the silhouette of a brand new concept Caterham road car at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza this weekend.

The new ultra-high performance model will be unveiled by Tony Fernandes, Chairman of Caterham Cars, during the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix race weekend (September 20th to 22nd).

The concept is the first model to be designed and developed with significant input from all of Caterham Group’s specialist business arms – Caterham Technology & Innovation, Caterham Composites and Caterham F1 Team.

Separately, Caterham’s all-new two-seater sportscar, which is being developed as a joint-venture with Renault-Alpine, continues to move apace ahead of its launch in early 2016. (source CaterhamF1)

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Parable of the lost son – Lewis to return? (21:00)

On Monday TJ13 reported that Ron Dennis said he did not actively try to stop Hamilton to leave McLaren. Earlier this year TJ13 reported that Hamilton was pushed out of McLaren. Dennis said that Hamilton leaving the team perhaps “was a necessary part of his maturation</em."

An just like the parable of the lost son, could Hamilton find his way back to McLaren? The Daily Mail reported that Hamilton has patched up his relationship with Dennis. Hamilton took the initiative to give Dennis a call over the summer break saying, "We had a nice chat on the phone recently, over the August break. We spoke for about an hour. It was a really good conversation. I don’t think there are any issues there personally. He has had such a big role in my life so I felt it was important to connect“.

Could this be the beginning of the journey of the lost son back to his father and home?

Oh and Lewis, while you have the phone handy, Sutil would love to ‘connect’ with you 😉

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13 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 6th September

  1. Seb: “Excellent, we got Ricciardo in the second seat!”
    Helmut: “Fantastic!”
    Seb: “Now we need to make sure he’s not faster than me, right?”
    Helmut: “Yeees, maybe weaken his legs a bit, weaker response to the pedals. Let me call WeightWatchers and see what we can do!”

    PS Just a bit of fun, sorry Vettel supporters…

    • Odd isn’t it – he tested the RB at Silverstone in July and I don’t remember any width issues being mentioned. Perhaps I just wasn’t reading the right propaganda…er…reports

      • As I understand it, this ‘hips too wide’ story is in regards to next years car (RB10), meaning he might have had no problem getting into RB9

        • That makes sense…in which case, conversely, making the RB10 narrower…doesn’t.

          What’s that I smell??

  2. Regarding the Toro Rosso 2014 driver line up, I wouldn’t surprise me if Herr Marko flips JEV off and has a re-think on pilots for both cars. After all its his MO as we have seen in the past. If they gave 2 fresh guys a go, that would give them a replacement for Vettle in 2016 when I think his contract is up and possibly expected to bugger off to the red team. I can’t see them keeping JEV for 2 more years. Hopefully another team will pick him up, maybe Williams to partner Bottas as it looks like Pastor’s funding has took a slide.

  3. Watched the practice sessions via the Sky feed on the internet. The cameras were very stable so clearly there was no seismic activity around Monza. Interesting that the emsc organization which tracks seismic activity in Europe only registered a small occurrence in Poland. Oh well, tomorrow’s another day.

    • Poland you say Cav? Must be Kubica hitting another tree .. or could it be he was stamping his feet with excitement of getting another Mercedes simulator drive 🙂

  4. Big surprise (not!), Lotus decided to not run the longer wheelbase car anymore for the remainder of the weekend. This is the passive DRS debacle all over again.

    I really, really don’t hope Kimi will sign a new contract at Lotus. I’m disliking this conservatice team more with every race.

    (Source: Autosport)

    • It’s because it’s rubbish… I honestly think they are trying to bluff to keep Kimi or to get big investors. I see Hulk there next year (the Don says hopefully)

    • Bernie just needs to go away. I cringe every time I see him in interviews, there is this uncomfortable, not right, awkward feeling. He has done great things for F1, no question, but it’s past time he retired (or went to jail). Also, the end of November is WAY too long a season. What happened to the every two week races that used to be? This scheduling is getting stupid.

    • Maybe he forgot he issued it? He is 80 odd now… memory cannot be that sharp anymore. Jeeze I’m a 3rd of his age and I struggle to remember my own name sometimes 😛

      • I’m a quarter of his age and know what you mean lol, though usually, it’s my age I forget!

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