Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 23rd September 2013

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Horner unsure about Renault engines (11:00)

Criticism mounting over booing (11:00)

The mystery of Vettel’s Singapore performance (11:00)

Kimi Räikkönen’s back injury a chronic issue? (11:00)
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Horner unsure about Renault engines

Fans, drivers and journalist are all stumbling about in the dark when it comes to predicting the balance of power when F1 enters its second turbo era next year. Even usually well informed people are left guessing. Red Bull’s Horner has expressed his doubts that their engine supplier, Renault, may not deliver the best package next year. “There are no guaranties – with no engine supplier,” he says about next year’s Renault V6.

Horner says that the French have a lot of talented people and a history of successful turbo engines, but he also sees strong competition. “Mercedes invested a load of money in the project and Ferrari has always been all about the engine anyway. It will be a stiff competition.

His crystal ball also shows a lot more technical problems than in recent years, when engine failures where all but completely gone.

That could change: “The technology is completely new and we cannot use more than five engines per season. There’s a lot of electronics in them and the first races will be decided by reliability. Races and titles can only be won by those, who see the chequered flag.” Stating the obvious there Mr Horner are we?

Red Bull and Renault are working closely to make sure the engine fits the car… One would assume Newey has given them the required engine dimensions already 🙂

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Criticism mounting over booing

Martin Brundle, who was visibly irritated by the latest instance of fans booing Sebastian Vettel during the podium interviews, is only one of several people who have grown tired of this rather disrespectful spectacle. Except for his home race, Vettel has been booed during every podium celebration since Canada.

The first to criticize the spectacle was – surprisingly – his team mate Mark Webber, who described the less than friendly welcome at Monza with the words: “The atmosphere I was not completely a fan of, to be honest.

Another unexpected man to speak out against it is Luca di Montezemolo. “Maybe it would have been better, if there had been fewer boos for Vettel: congratulations to him and to Red Bull,” LdM said at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “But to our critics and those with short memories, I would like to remind them that in the past few years, Ferrari has always been at the top.

Mercedes’ Niki Lauda joined the chorus of critics after the Singapore GP and calls the boos ridiculous. According to Lauda people that boo does not understand the sport. “These people don’t understand what the guy is doing. I honestly take my hat off at his performance because the guy was leading the race from the first lap on, out-drove everybody, he could have lapped everybody.

In Lauda’s case, the ‘take my hat off’ part is more than a mere phrase. He has been working as German broadcaster RTL’s main expert analyst for years and is known for never taking off his trademark red cap. Only in cases of truly remarkable feats he is known to lift the cap, exposing his badly burned skin on top of his head.

The only one, who seems rather blasé about it, is Vettel himself, brushing off the booing with a quip during the Singapore podium interview, insinuating that the booers are a bunch of people following the F1 circus around on a tour bus.

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The mystery of Vettel’s Singapore performance

A lot of noise has been made, especially in the English media, about Vettel’s ridiculous advantage over his rivals.

Blasting away from the field at a rate of two to three seconds a lap left the audience wondering if Red Bull had been sandbagging for a good portion of the season or if Adrian Newey had whipped out another load of magic parts. The answer is a simple ‘no’.

It all boils down to the same reason, why we had Giedo van der Garde being the holder of fastest lap honours for several laps at Monaco – tyre preservation.

Most of the drivers simply never drove as fast as the car could. The only top runner who could do without having to go all Greenpeace on tyre wear was Vettel, having saved up an additional set of Supersoft tyres with a risky gamble in Saturday’s Q3.

Another driver with tyres to spare was Adrian Sutil. having not made it to Q3 in the first place and running the supersofts late in the race on a lighter car in clean air. It comes as no surprise that these are the two, who showed up in the top two spots on the fastest lap charts.

Alonso and Räikkönen especially had to drive like old men in Volvos. Both ran ultra-long stints on the medium tyres so it shouldn’t come as a major surprise that they were much slower than Vettel.

What does this mean for the sport though? Will we see more drivers doing 1 lap qualifying runs in the hope to save an extra set of the optimum tyre?

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Kimi Räikkönen’s back injury a chronic issue?

Motorsport Total speculates that Kimi’s back injury could be a souvenir from his early Sauber days.

It could have been caused as early as the 2001 pre-season testing when the Finn smashed rear-end first into the barrier after losing control of his Sauber at Magny-Cour’s Imola chicane. Kimi’s hints in the post race interview, that Singapore wasn’t the first weekend he raced with a painful back could lend some credibility to these speculations.

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35 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 23rd September 2013

  1. How can it be that Kimi, who on occasion is rude and insular, can be more popular than a happy, smiling, friendly and genuinely funny Vettel? Life is strange sometimes.

    • I think it’s about being real, about being honest and about being spoilt by a certain Helmut Marko – if that man starts talking on behalf of Kimi, he would become less popular.
      And there’s dominance and the finger…

    • Because Kimi will just say what he thinks regardless of what offence it may cause. Vettel, and to be fair virtually every other driver says what he is told to by the teams PR people

    • Probably because he isn’t two faced. Kimi doesn’t really give a fig about anything other than driving the car and being left alone to have fun, on his terms.
      I don’t really warm to Seb, but i feel sorry for him. His success from youth has meant he’s grown up in public. He’s gone from being quite popular to being disliked by many, despite being engaging away from the track.
      Social media is a very powerful medium, which is also very ficle. Teams, and drivers, can be held to account for actions and statements like never before. I really think that multi21 has had a tremulously negative impact on Seb, and the bulls. Nobody came out of it looking good.
      The way Horner handled the merc test situation also didn’t look great either. The less said about Marco the better.
      Success has definitely had an impact on both Seb and the bulls too. Even Ferrari had difficulties during Schewe time. But the neutrals turned on Ferrari for the same type of reasons they turned on the bulls. Politics, a perceived slight against the second driver, huge arrogance from the team management and a lack of understanding, interest and respect for perceived fair play.
      They won’t be the last to do it either.

    • Last night I think I saw a human side of Vettle. He was hard to read for me. I realized that it’s just perspectives, likable or not.
      Kimi is simple, genuine. What you see is what you get. Popular or not he stays a true racer.

  2. “Blasting away from the field at a rate of two to three seconds a lap left the audience wondering if Red Bull had been sandbagging for a good portion of the season or if Adrian Newey had whipped out another load of magic parts. The answer is a simple ‘no'”

    Really ?

    They’ve certainly (or at least, Vettel has) been able to drive well within his capability for quite a bit of the season, and this race was no exception.

    To finish so far in front after being caught out by the safety car, and having taken it easy on the brakes in the latter half of the race, suggests a good second a lap in hand over the full distance, even if two to three is overegging it.

    And the magic parts seem to have been on the car since Spa (eg an even better implementation of the exhaust blown diffuser).

    • I’m wondering if Seb’s (truly excellent) performance post-safety car shows up a major flaw in ALL of the teams’ thinking this season: specifically, that driving slowly to preserve tyres isn’t, after all, the best plan – in terms of both entertainment and race-winning strategy.

      Basically, Vettel drove 2-3 seconds faster than he had previously which allowed him to make an extra stop and still win. This has been said before – but if all the drivers just drive as fast as they can and then stop for tyres when they need to (note: not when they THINK they need to…) would they be faster?? And would it have meant that the “Pirelli’s tyres are ruining the racing” nonsense would have been killed off at birth?

      I don’t truly know the answer to this, but surely the fact that Seb had an “extra” set of tyres (that had been saved from doing a whole ONE fast lap in Q3) can’t suddenly be the difference.

      Or can it?

      Answers on a postcard to……

      • The problem is that the other top10 drivers didn’t have enough fresh rubber left to apply the same strategy, so in essence it boild down to the fact that with tyres degrading that quickly the limited number of tyre sets has become too low. Vettel took a big gamble in Q3 and therefore he had an additional set of fresh supersofts and didn’t need to conserve the last three useable tyre sets, because he had four left and one of them brand spanking new.

        • Understood, Danilo, but does one hot lap and one heat cycle really make the difference between using them in the race or not? (I’m not a rubber technologist – did you guess? ;-))

          • Used later in the race on a lighter car, as Vettel did, I would hazard a guess that a fresh set gives you at least 8 laps more than a scrubbed set.
            You only have four sets of options going into FP3, where they usually use up one set to prepare for qualifying – leaves them with three.
            They’re usually used like that in qualy then:
            Set 1 : 1 run in Q1, first run of Q2
            Set 2 : 2nd run of Q2, first run of Q3
            Set 3 : final run of Q3 (starting set of the race)

            That basically left most drivers in Singapose with the one set they started with and two sets which were utterly secondhand already – as opposed to vettel:

            Set 1: sole run in Q2
            Set 2: sole run in Q3
            Set 3: unused and brand spanking new

            So he started on a fairly fresh set and still had a completely fresh one and another lightly used set of options at his disposal.

          • Fair enough, DS, and thanks for the 8-lap guesstimate.

            I suppose I’m just HOPING for more of this in the remaining races…

        • This whole tyre saving has led to a lot of undesirable side-effects. They run fewer lasp in free practice and save tyres in qualifying. So yes the teams should get more tyres.

    • I have lost quite a lot of respect for Vettel with his attitude the past few years but booing is just not acceptable. At the end of the day though, he and the team brought this upon themselves. Instead of going on about how much respect Vettel deserves, they should first apologise for their mishandling of certain situations. Had Vettel done that and shown true remorse, the boos would disappear the next day. Simple F1 followers want to see the human side of Vettel, not the robotic ruthless Schuey-like driver on the track despite his classy sense of humour.

      • I wish you were right and that it was ‘simply’ that, but somehow I fear that F1 is more and more becoming a polarized sport in which ‘fans’ are losing respect for the achievement of driving an F1 car in general and are starting to only focus on what their favorite driver is doing. I guess it’s one of the downsides of how safe the sport has become….

      • Respectfully Sir, but I think that is a wee bit of hogwash. The boos will go away the moment he stops winning regularly, because that’s what the boos are all about – ‘Boohoo, my driver isn’t winning, Boohoo, hissss’

        If RB’s mishandling of Malysia and Silverstone ’10 is enough to make Seb the Dick Dastardly of F1, what about a driver, who deliberately lies to Stewards to have another driver unjustly punished – after being told so by his own team. What about a driver, who blocks his own team mate in the pits, preventing him to have another run and blackmails his own team afterwards. What about a driver, who doesn’t give back an illegal win, which was only achieved by his team telling his team mate to crash on purpose to bring out a safety car. What about a driver, who is told to hold station behind his team mate yet attacks several times and later brags to the press that he ignored the team order and won’t follow team orders in the future either. What about a driver, who is asked to help his team mate in the decisive championship race, but actually squeezes him off the line, enabling the opposition to slip through.
        Well, recognized the three? Why aren’t Hamilton, Alonso and Webber not constantly booed? Why aren’t McLaren, Renault (now Lotus) and Ferrari despised, despite a rich history of blatant cheating and fraud?

        This whole ‘Vettel is unsporting’ malarkey is a lame excuse for petty jealousy. In comparison to the histories of Senna, Schumacher, Hamilton and Alonso Vettel is a beacon of sportsmanship in a sea full of cheats. His only ‘crime’ is winning too much.

          • We are more or less aligned Danilo, although I do not feel the need to defend or praise the sportmanship of Vettel (or any other driver for that matter)….

          • It wasn’t exactly meant to be praise 😉 Just a comparison. Just pointing out the hypocricy of a crowd that boos the winner, yet celebrates and chants the name of a driver, who has been in volved in three major sporting fraud scandals.

        • Alonso heard far worse than simple booing, so did Lewis.
          Some people don’t like Vettel, so what.

          • With this difference that the people that said those things to Alonso and Hamilton were unanimously condemned by the F1 community, whereas the Vettel-booing seems to be a 50-50 thing…

        • Fair point, but to the eyes of F1 fans, Alonso, Hamilton and Schuey have proven themselves in inferior cars. It’s a combo of unsportmanship-like behaviour and having a superior car for all his career that causes the constant booing. And if you want I can even add the political element into it all with many southern Europeans not enjoying seeing a German winning. Let’s not forget Alonso’s comments when he won in Germany I think “A Spanish driver winning in an Italian car designed by a Greek”

          • Alonso has one year in the Minardi, but apart from that he has spent most of his career in competitive front-running cars.
            Hamilton has never had anything but a McLaren before this year, he went straight from GP2 into one of the winningest cars of F1, while Vettel had to prove his worth at Toro Rosso before being given the Red Bull. Hamilton had never had to prove himself in lesser cars.

          • If we ever find out that Danilo turns out to be Helmuth Marko, I’m not surprised.

          • In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The ‘never had to prove’ thing is just one of the detractor myths dished out regularly. The, driver who had it the easiest was Hamilton, while both Alonso and Vettel drove lesser cars to places where they didn’t belong before getting the big break into a front-runner team. In the end all three of them got to F1 on merit, which is what counts.

          • I agree Danillo, and people would probably level this accusation at Hamilton, but by the grace of him spending his first season paired with Alonso.

          • The big issue is that it LOOKS like Seb is getting preferential treatment from the team. When you combine this with multi21 he just comes across as being spoiled and pampered. And someone who feels that second is first of the losers.

            Fernando has the same past, to a degree. Yet he is more widely liked, which i find unusual.

            Lewis seems to be down with the kids, so gets away with most of his slip ups. I think the soap opera lifestyle gets him more sympathy than most.

            Seb is unusual, in that we don’t really know much about him away from the track. Maybe this makes him the least ‘human’ of the drivers, which makes it more difficult for people to connect with him. We all know about his gr8 sense of humour. And the top gear appearance boosted his popularity. But this seems to be on a downhill slope now.

            Maybe a discussion with someone like fuller would help. Or the bulls marketing department.

            Both his, and the bulls, brand will ultimately be negatively impacted if nothing is done. Whether we like the concept of brands, or not, its the world we now live in, so I’d expect something to happen sooner rather than later.

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