Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 25th October 2013

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In the coming days TJ13 will be introducing a new contributor, Eve Reynolds. She will be reporting on the 2014 season, more on that later.

Jenson going for a radical setup (01:00)

McLaren fail to learn basic lessons (01:06)

Ferrari preparing for the future (07:21)

India race to go ahead (07:36)

McLaren play with ‘the big boys’ (10:13)

India FP1 (10:33)

Kvyat will get 2 FP1 drives this year (11:27)

India FP2 (12:00)

Marussia in the Ecclestone fold (12:05)

Grosjean confirmed for 2014 (14:20) UPDATE (16:14)

Should I stay or should I go? Brawn (14:37)

Pirelli set to walk out of F1 (14:55)

Thought for the day (15:00)

Williams fined again (16:06)

Sergio’s nightmare (16:22)

FIA Friday Press Conference (17:40)

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Jenson going for a radical setup

After a miserable year since Lewis Hamilton and Paddy Lowe left the team, McLaren will be trying something different this weekend. Speaking to Autosport, Jenson Button reveals, “You definitely go places with the car that you would not normally do because you would be worried about giving points away if the weekend went wrong.

Here I have a set-up on my car that is completely different to any other race we have had the last couple of years – just to see where we are. It might help us next year.

We are in a position where we can do that because we are not fighting for winning races, podiums or the championship so there are some positives to take out of it. And there aren’t many in a difficult season.”

Jenson reveals little of what this means, however, he does suggests, “You learn where you cannot put things in terms of front wing angles and how the airflow is over the car and that will really help us for next year’s car.

To have a bad year this year was probably the best year to have it, because you can learn a lot for the new package of 2014.”

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McLaren fail to learn basic lessons

Last year the team were booked into a hotel infested with mosquitos. Jenson was even swatting the wee beasties during media interviews. Yet the team have learned nothing from their 2012 experience and booked the same hotel for this year.

The plague of the blood sucking insects has been such that Martin Whitmarsh has relocated himself and the McLaren drivers to the luxurious Jaypee Greens Hotel nearer the circuit whilst the mechanics and catering staff will again stay at the New Delhi Hilton.

The Hilton lies fewer than 100 yards from an open sewer, the perfect breeding ground for the insects, which carry dengue virus and malaria. This is a highly embarrassing situation for McLaren because Hilton are a big sponsor of the teams.

Jenson’s manager Richard Goddard is on the record diplomatically suggesting, “The Hilton is really nice and the people are friendly and helpful. But perhaps as the hotel is new, there has not been enough allowance made for the amount of mosquitoes in the area.”

A McLaren junior member of the team said, “I’m not looking forward to it. Last year it was a nightmare. Yuck.”

Is this not just indicative of a team that is not on top of the detail? To err once last year was human, to suffer the same fate again is foolish and inept.

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Ferrari preparing for the future

German publication Bild reports Ferrari is to invest in a new F1 factory at Maranello. It appears Ferrari is now throwing everything bar the kitchen zinc at their F1 project in a bid to become champions again.

Joining the renovated wind tunnel and new driver simulator is the soon to be built 3 storey complex that will be large enough to host all of Ferrari’s 700 employees. It will take a year to construct but should be ready about the time Vettel will start to think about the future again.

Could it be they want to show Vettel they are investing for the future and an ultra modern Ferrari could be his home?

Ferrari New Factory © Bild

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India race to go ahead

For those TJ13 followers that were worried this weekend’s race will not happen due to the tax dispute, fear not.

As TJ13 reported yesterday a court case was scheduled today for the promoters of the Indian Grand Prix, Jaypee Sports, to face justice due to an ongoing tax dispute with Indian tax authorities.

Today India’s Supreme Court postponed the decision on the petition filed by a private person claiming the promoters of the race would deprive the state millions of dollars in taxes. Has the Chief Justice P. Sathasivam received a surprise brown envelope for Christmas… hmmmmm

gavel

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McLaren play with ‘the big boys’

F1 has come a long way since Colin Chapman decided to begin building his famous Lotus cars. Back then the pit garage, if they existed, was a place for spanner wielding mechanics and proper grease monkeys. Even the driver’s following a race looked as though they’d done a 12 hour shift managing a Texas oil rig.

Today the pit lane is jammed with lap top wielding boffins crunching meteoric amounts of data and as Peter van Manen, MD of McLaren Electronic Systems, observes, “By chance or whatever we’ve ended up that F1 is a very strong metaphor for how the world is developing around a more industrialized Internet. You take information and you measure things, and from that you try to adapt how things behave and flow, so you can make performance better.”

F1 does everything at hyper speed. A road car may take years from concept to showroom, whereas an F1 car is designed and produced in a matter of months and updated almost daily throughout the season. “There are very few industries which have a similar ability to evolve at such pace and bring components or products to market at such speed,” says Gerard Spensley, AT&T’s global accounts director for F1.

Teams now capture gigabytes of data from more than 100 sensors on each F1 car, transmitting it back to the pit or direct to the factory over high-speed cables. Once engineers have analyzed the data they feed advice back to the driver – often within minutes or even seconds.

Following Vettel’s 1st lap collision at the Brazilian GP last year, the team back in Milton Keynes from analysis of data assessed the impact of the collision and had sent instructions to the trackside engineers ahead of the first pit stop. So vital time was saved and the team were capable of making the necessary alterations to the car which in turn helped reduce the risk of further damage to the car.

Other industries are now seeing value in the F1 way of managing data and learning how to grab of data on the fly, figure out what’s important and then converting that quickly into a strategy.

Brand McLaren

Last month, the group’s applied technologies division opened new headquarters in Singapore. McLaren has utilised its experience from grabbing data from fast moving cars to help build a network of antennae, sensors and masts for San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). The network is used to collect video surveillance of the carriages, monitor usage and provide passengers with WiFi.

Peter van Manen explains this is not as easy as it sounds. Data bounces off walls, arrives in the wrong order or drops out entirely. “The complexity is in the detail of dealing with both the high volume of data and the imperfections in the world.”

McLaren is developing partners across the globe and at present is collaborating with U.S.-based IO Data Centers to create efficiency by modelling likely demand. Kevin Malik of IO explains, “Every plane and car is now driven by software, constantly adjusting every variable. Taking that thinking and applying it to the data center – where every input is constantly monitored and controlled – was how the partnership was spun with McLaren,”

The F1 pit stop appears to be one of the key points of interest for those outside the sport, and McLaren’s use of predictive analytics to figure out the best time to call a racing car is now guiding Britain’s air traffic controllers in their decisions over planes should land on what runway. The software is currently being deployed at London’s Heathrow Airport, according to McLaren.

McLaren is also working with an oil and gas company to figure out the optimal path to drill through a honeycomb of wells 10 miles underground. The solution, says McLaren’s Geoff McGrath, is a strategy straight out of racing: measure the condition of the car, mine the models using historical data and then advise a course of action – which will change all the time as new events occur.

No activity is too mundane in F1 land for the team to capture data about and analyse it. McLaren’s growing partnership with GlaxoSmithKline Plc is reported to have been instigated due to some executive’s fascination with their pit stop during a race.

McLaren have measured, analysed and delivered information for GSK that has meant for example in one toothpaste production line the changeover times from one flavour to the next has been cut from 39 minutes to 15.

Craig Stires, a Singapore-based analyst with IDC suggests, “It isn’t so much the technology and methods that are driving the interest in F1 data handling, but that these cases are so interesting that people are starting to pay attention to things like sensors in the vehicle. It creates that interest that radiates into other industries”.

Whatever the reason, McLaren’s innovation is causing ripples. Providing high-speed connectivity to F1, for example, has helped companies like AT&T and Tata Communications develop their services overall. Normally, setting up a network for a client would take 10 weeks, Tata Communications chief marketing officer Julie Woods-Moss reveals F1 needs to have it done in three days. “So there’s been huge process innovations in the company that now we’re starting to see feeding to mainstream customers.”

The global market for big data is expected to be worth $23.7 billion by 2016 (Reuters) and most of it will be driven by big players such as IBM, Cisco Systems Inc and EMC Corp, forecasts Credit Suisse. Yet McLaren are sexy players in a big boys world which towers above the relative dwarf like finances of F1 land; and ‘so far so good’,

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India FP1

1 S Vettel (GER) Red Bull 1’26.683
2 M Webber (AUS) Red Bull 1’26.871
3 N Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 1’26.899
4 R Grosjean (FRA) Lotus 1’26.990
5 LC Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1’27.227
6 J Button (GBR) McLaren 1’27.335
7 S Perez (MEX) McLaren 1’27.416
8 F Massa (BRA) Ferrari 1’27.692
9 N Hülkenberg (GER) Sauber 1’27.770
10 V Bottas (FIN) Williams 1’27.800
11 JE Vergne (FRA) Toro Rosso 1’28.035
12 F Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 1’28.214
13 D Ricciardo (AUS) Toro Rosso 1’28.336
14 P Maldonado (VEN) Williams 1’28.342
15 A Sutil (GER) Force India 1’28.468
16 E Gutiérrez (MEX) Sauber 1’28.538
17 KM Räikkönen (FIN) Lotus 1’28.730
18 JJ Calado (GBR) Force India 1’29.197
19 G van der Garde (NED) Caterham 1’29.413
20 J Bianchi (FRA) Marussia 1’29.560
21 C Pic (FRA) Caterham 1’30.026
22 M Chilton (GBR) Marussia 1’30.471

Fernando Alonso’s weekend didn’t get off to a good start, after just 6 laps he crawled into the pits, apparently unable to change gear, and that was that.

Vettel forged to the head of the time sheets for the 41st session this year, although his advantage of team mate Webber was maybe more slender at 0.188s than some expected. At the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011, Sebastian finished both FP1 and FP2 second fastest but since then he’s been top in every practice session, qualified on pole twice, won both races and led every lap. On the back of five consecutive victories in 2013, There’s little reason for Vettel’s challengers to feel even faintly optimistic.

Jenson with his ‘magical setup’ could only manage to be within about 0.7s of Vettel, though he led the session briefly

It appears Kimi is yet to wake up as he was a full 1.8s slower than Grosjean.

There were also spins for Williams’ Pastor Maldonado and the Force India of James Calado, the latter substituting for Paul di Resta. No-one looked like challenging Vettel but Webber did manage to get ahead of Rosberg to ensure Red Bull finished the session with a one-two on the timesheet.

After an eventful outing in Di Resta’s car, James Colado finished 18th but was 0.729 behind the sister car driven by Adrian Sutil.

Gary Anderson said, “The Red Bulls look very strong – Webber did his best time on his 15th lap, so they clearly can look after their tyres as well.”

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Kvyat will get 2 FP1 drives this year

Next weekend is a big one for Daniil Kvyat, he goes to Abu Dhabi 7 points behind series leader Facu Regalia and is hoping to overhaul this deficit to clinch the series drivers’ title.

Regardless of the outcome, Kvyat will then be given an outing in a 2 year old F1 car so he can complete enough mileage to qualify for his F1 driver’s super license. Toro Rosso have announced they will be getting Daniil into the current car in FP1 both for the race weekend in Texas and in Sao Paulo.

There are those who have been critical of Toro Rosso’s appointment of such an inexperienced driver, and Jenson Button pointed out yesterday the change from a 12 person team to a team of several hundred personnel will take some getting used to.

Speaking to Speedweek, Marko is dismissive of those who question the team’s appointment. “They say there is no room for inexperienced drivers, but that’s just an excuse. Daniel and Sebastian are two that have made it out of our junior team and we are very proud of it”

McLaren in recent weeks have been talking up the possibility of their 2 young drivers getting an F1 drive. Yet there appears to be no hope for Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne getting a seat for the2014 season in an F1 car. Never one to miss a chance of a dig at the opposition, Marko snipes, “that’s another thing: Red Bull brings young talent into Formula One while the others talk”.

Toro Rosso may moved forward their plans to get Kvyat his F1 driver’’s license as the FIA are rumoured to be discussing making it much tougher to qualify for this document.

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India FP2

1 S Vettel (GER) Red Bull 1’25.722
2 M Webber (AUS) Red Bull 1’26.011
3 R Grosjean (FRA) Lotus 1’26.220
4 LC Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1’26.399
5 F Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 1’26.430
6 N Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 1’26.582
7 F Massa (BRA) Ferrari 1’26.601
8 KM Räikkönen (FIN) Lotus 1’26.632
9 S Perez (MEX) McLaren 1’26.857
10 J Button (GBR) McLaren 1’26.972
11 D Ricciardo (AUS) Toro Rosso 1’27.304
12 A Sutil (GER) Force India 1’27.375
13 V Bottas (FIN) Williams 1’27.429
14 N Hülkenberg (GER) Sauber 1’27.491
15 P di Resta (GBR) Force India 1’27.608
16 P Maldonado (VEN) Williams 1’27.720
17 E Gutiérrez (MEX) Sauber 1’27.949
18 JE Vergne (FRA) Toro Rosso 1’28.431
19 G van der Garde (NED) Caterham 1’28.692
20 J Bianchi (FRA) Marussia 1’28.799
21 C Pic (FRA) Caterham 1’29.366
22 M Chilton (GBR) Marussia 1’30.164

The Red Bull domination rolls on as the drivers again top the timing sheets for the practice session, though Vettel extends his lead over his team mate to over 0.25s. Vettel suffered from some KERS related issue early in the session though it was resolved relatively quickly and his authority was re-instated.

Blistering was a problem for a number of teams, with the front left soft tyre being particularly affected. It was interesting to see Adrian Newey joined by Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery in the Red Bull garage, and there is some suggestion that maybe Red Bull are suffering more than others with this issue.

Christian Horner said: “We worked through a programme, had a good look at the tyres, which seemed to be fairly contrasting. You couldn’t have two more diametrically opposed tyres – one that lasts forever, the other that lasts not very long at all. But it was a positive day”.

Vettel continues to give the impression he’s in charge of setting up the car as his engineer Rocky suggested, “We think torque five would be better at this point.” Vettel retorted, “Negative. I don’t like torque five.”

Again, Romain Grosjean appears to be the only competition who can force the Bull’s pairing to bother glancing in their mirrors, and team mate Kimi again was off the pace by nearly a whole second.

Lewis Hamilton is edging closer and his long run pace was closer to the Bull’s than his flying lap would suggests. Gary Anderson remarked, “I don’t think it’s all over. I think it will be harder for Vettel than the last two years. The Mercedes and Lotus look quite close.”

Hamilton has conceded he has ‘no chance’ of pole position, so it’s down to Webber or Grosjean to upset the apple cart.

So what of Ferrari? Alonso – gear box problems resolved – managed a monstrous stint of 24 laps on the more fragile ‘soft’ tyre, which will be the qualifying tyre of choice. This will mean to manage a 2 stop race strategy, drivers will need to qualify and then deliver no less than 10 laps on this rubber, otherwise the result will mean they are forced to 3 stop and use 4 sets of tyres on Sunday.

Sauber, 6th and 7th on the grid in Suzuka are outside the top 10, though improvement is yet possible and the Hulk was ecstatic on the car to pit radio telling the team, “Car is mega on Prime” .

Williams were fined by the FIA in Suzuka for losing a wheel from Maldonado cars, and again it appears the matter is not completely resolved. In the final 30 minutes of the session the dreaded call came into the pit, “I’m losing the wheel” The response was swift, “Pastor, Pastor, OK, just stop the car, pull off somewhere safe and stop the car”

Williams may avoid an FIA sanction this time as the wheel remained attached to the car – though the wheel nut making a break for freedom was plain for all to see. Maldonado was forced to park the car at the end of the pit lane, bringing out the inevitable yellow flags.

Will Buxton suggests, “The Williams issue is interesting. A nut coming loose could still mean it is  an unsafe release, but the retention system did at least seem to do its job”.

Question: Has an engine manufacturer ever had a 1-2-3 in three consecutive races?

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Marussia in the Ecclestone fold

News is filtering through, that Marussia and FOM have signed a commercial agreement which brings them in line with the other teams in F1. More to follow….

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Grosjean confirmed for 2014

The Lotus Quantum saga is still bumbling along, but Eric Boullier admitted in the team members FIA press conference, “We only need one more driver. Romain has a contract for next year already and it is just a matter of confirmation. We are being prudent after last year, but I think he is on his way to big confidence.

We are definitely pleased with his performances since Germany. Clearly something has switched on and he is working better – it is also true that the latest specification of tyres suits his driving style a little bit better than Kimi’s does – but yes we are pleased that he is stepping up. We don’t have a policy of number one and number two, but we needed him to step up.”

Reading between the lines It may be that the Qauntum deal is already a dead duck, because Boullier’s next comment on Romain’s future partner is rather strange. “Davide is on the list, but to bring a driver to the grid with no experience is a huge step for them. I did it twice already with Petrov and a semi-rookie Grosjean and I think I’ve had enough to be honest with you.

Davide is on the list because he is a good driver and is GP2 Champion, but for sure you would favour a situation next year where you had a driver with experience. If you cannot find a driver with experience for the team, then the strategy would be to go for a rookie driver and he would be top of the list.”

Wow. Who said the FIA press conferences were stale and uninformative. Since when were Lotus ever considering a rookie for 2014 at all???

UPDATE: Since then, Eric Boullier has confirmed there are ongoing talks with Pastor Maldonado, however, his preferred choice is clearly, “Nico Hulkenberg … I would love to [sign him]. This is the recommendation that I gave to my board.”

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Should I stay or should I go? Brawn

You’ve got to love Ross Brawn. He’s the cagiest but smartest political operator in F1 – like a master poker player. He speaks frankly and openly, and then after he’s gone you think – what the hell does that mean.

Speaking today Brawn said, “I still enjoy Formula 1 very much. It has its ups and downs and for someone like me it’s unique”. On his position at Mercedes he had this to say, “the transition will eventually be handing over to Toto and Paddy; the question is timing. We want the timing that’s most effective for the team.

I want the team to be competitive next year and I want the team to at least be in a position to win the World Championship, and we’re just deciding the best way of managing that. That’s the discussion that’s going on and we’ll let you know when we know what we’re going to do.”

Aha. So he’s staying….. but then again this could be a clever move predicating his departure. You see, if he leaves he can claim the team was in such a position [to win the World Championship] – however you measure that – and if they don’t deliver it’s them that screwed it up. Mmm.

You cagey old dog Mr, Brawn…

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Pirelli set to walk out of F1

Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera recently indicated that that Pirelli would refuse to supply tyres for 2014 if they were unable to perform proper testing of the new rubber compounds before the teams test Jerez the last week of January.

This issue was schedule for the new F1 strategy group to discuss last Monday, but appears that no satisfactory resolution is agreed.

Today, Paul Hembery restates the Italian tyre manufacturer’s position.“Based on the comments of our chairman a few weeks ago, there has to be some running or we cannot do the tyres. We just want some common sense on the issue – that is all we would like. We have to do some testing. If we cannot, then we will not be able to provide the tyres for next year.”

It’s ironic that the Pirelli strategy on entering F1 was to create publicity for the brand, but after the persistent kicking they had this year led – much of which was led by Red Bull with others in tow – they clearly do not want to rock up next year with tyres that cannot cope with the significant torque increases the new V6 engines will bring.

Yet it seems Pirelli are not asking for the world as Hembery points out, “We don’t need a lot of testing. The tyre structures we are not worried about, but in terms of the compounds there are some conceptual changes that we have to try out. Ideally we want a 2014 car as soon as possible, but the teams are all struggling to get ready for Jerez. We want the best of the rest if you like – which could mean a current or even a car from 2011.”

Mmm. So what’s the problem. The FIA regulations may require a tweak and then the big question is – who gets the honour of testing the 2014 rubber first?

With just 4 weeks remaining before the finale in 2013 finale in Brazil – time is getting very short indeed.

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Thought for the day

Thought for the Day was a daily scripted slot on the BBC Radio 4 and contained reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news. As I boy getting ready for school, I remember my father having it on in the kitchen.

Notable contributors in recent years to the slot have included major religious figures including Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury) and Pope Benedict XVI. Major British rabbis to have contributed include Chief Rabbi Jonathan Lord Sacks of the United Synagogue movement and Lionel Blue of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Lewis appears to be pitching to be allowed into this esteemed company as he tweets today…

untitled

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Williams fined again

Williams have received a second fine in two races for issues surrounding the wheel securing mechanism. Some would say, to lose a wheel once may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose it twice looks like carelessness. To be fair this time it was merely the wheel nut which flew off the car.

“The stewards noted that in this case the wheel had been retained on the car (unlike a similar incident in Suzuka two weeks ago) and that the cross threading of the wheel fastener contributed to the fastener coming off the car.

Whilst the stewards accept that improvements to the wheel retaining system had been implemented the team need to ensure that both the wheel and its fastener are fully retained on the car. The stewards decide that a fine of €60,000 is the most appropriate penalty in this case taking into account this was the second offence, but on this occasion the wheel was retained.”

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Sergio’s nightmare

For some of this weekend, Sergio Perez’s miond has clearly been on matters other than racing. Gorgeous girls draped across his torso brandishing Gillete blades my indeed be his guilty pleasure.

Yet following today’s 2 practice sessions, Sergio is having visions of another kind. More Van Damme than Van Dyke, Sergio sees exploding tyres!!!

Were this Lewis, then a psychologist would diagnose this as a flashback to Silverstone, but for Sergio, his fear is much more recent.

He told the media, “The soft is not really lasting not even a lap. If you see people doing a long stint on the option you will see lock-ups and probably tyres exploding so I think they went quite aggressive with the option tyre for this weekend.”

Then as quick as a flash, the nightmare appears to be over, as a lucid Perez embraces the future. “It’s something we have to deal with. I think for most of the other teams that are in our range that we’re probably fighting with it is probably the same, maybe a little bit better. But I’m quite optimistic for the weekend I have to say; I’m happy with the balance and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

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FIA Friday Press Conference

Team Representatives – Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing), Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Vijay Mallya (Force India), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber), Eric Boullier (Lotus)

Q: I think as you have pride of place, front and centre, Monisha, I think we should start with you, in what I’m sure is a happier time at Sauber at the moment. The last few races have seen good points-scoring finishes. Has that been a relief to you, something you always thought was on the cars or has it caught you by surprise?
Monisha Kaltenborn:
 It didn’t really catch us by surprise that we improved our performance. We did always believe in it and we had reason to believe in it. But it does make it a lot easier and credible for the team if you can really show that result in points. Because we could see that upward trend from Hungary on but the points were not coming in so it’s good if they can be shown like this to the outside.

Q: What’s been the change? What’s made the big difference?
MK:
 Well the big difference has been the package, the aerodynamic package we brought in in Hungary. That was a big step for us and we could see that this was really going into the right direction. It counts for more than 50 per cent of this improvement. We then, of course, got a better understanding of the car, which allowed us to operate it differently, to use different set-ups we hadn’t been using before. And then, I think to be fair about it, the change in the tyres was – unlike last year – not against us this time, but we benefited maybe more than others from it. So all of this together, and of course a great performance by the team, the drivers, adds to it.

Q: Thank you for that. To your right, Dr Vijay Mallya, it’s Force India’s home Grand Prix and if Sauber have benefited from the tyres, has that been to Force India’s detriment, and a difficult period of the season since Silverstone for you?
Vijay Mallya: 
Absolutely. The change in the tyres for Silverstone has been more than just detrimental to us. Within the mechanical design of the car it’s proving very difficult for us to get optimum tyre performance. We’ve dedicated all our R&D tools to the 2014 car, so we are handicapped in a sense. But having said that I think we are understanding tyres and the constraints under which we are operating slightly better. We are pleased with today’s free practice performance. We’ve certainly fared better today than we did in Japan or Korea and I think we’ll attempt to even improve on this before the last remaining races. The lady on my left has certainly woken us up. We are now wide awake and hopefully we will hang on to our current sixth position in the constructors’ championship, though she is getting dangerously close. But having said that, the tyres have not been the best for us in the second half of the season but hopefully whatever we suffer this year will be a good investment for next year’s car.

Q: You mentioned the lady to your left getting dangerously close. Are you looking nervously over your shoulder or do you think that the performances can improve and you can hold on to that place?
VM:
 As I said, I was quite pleased with the free practice performance today. It’s certainly a step ahead from Japan and Korea, so that gives me confidence we are heading in the right direction. I also realise the constraints under which we are operating, because the window available to us mechanically is quite a short one. But having said that, I think the results will speak for themselves going forward.

Q: Let me turn to Eric next. In terms of results, Lotus continue to go forward, involved in a three-way battle for second place in the constructors’ championship. What are your targets for the remaining four races of the season?
Eric Boullier: 
Well the target is obviously to chase podium finishes and those kind of fights every race. I think this is the prize to chase, to get the chance to be in the second place, or on the podium of the constructors’ championship.

Q: Romain Grosjean has scored back-to-back podiums in the last two races for the first time in his career. Can you tell us a bit about his form at the moment? Is he a man that could lead your team for next season?
EB:
 We are definitely pleased with his performance, since Germany actually. Clearly, something switched on and he is working better. I mean the same tyre story as well, the latest spec of tyres suit a little bit more his driving style than Kimi’s one. But yes, we are pleased that he is stepping up. We don’t have a policy of driver number one and number two but we needed him obviously to step up, yes.

Q: Enough to suggest to yourself that you’re looking for one more driver for next season or not?
EB:
 Yes, definitely. Normally we compete with two cars!

Q: But Romain definitely in for next year?
EB:
 Romain has a contract signed anyway for next year. It’s just, say, a matter of confirmation. We are being prudent after last obviously. But I think it’s on its way to be confirmed soon.

Q: Let me turn to Stefano next, if I can. This morning, for Fernando Alonso, not the best start to the weekend with a gearbox problem. Can you explain a bit more about what happened?
Stefano Domenicali: 
Yeah, it’s true. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the programme we were expecting to do. We had a problem on a little spring inside the gearbox, so at the end of the day we were able change it and to keep the gearbox for the session.

Q: This was a race gearbox?
SD:
 No.

Q: So it will be fine for the rest of the weekend?
SD:
 I hope so.

Q: You’ll need it and you’ll need a good performance from Fernando and Felipe, because as Eric was touching on, that battle for second place in the constructors’ championship is mathematically out of your reach this weekend, could go right down to the wire?
SD:
 For sure, the fight is very strong. We know that around us there is Mercedes and Lotus, who are very competitive and we cannot be complacent. We have second but if we want to beat the opposition we need to perform well with both drivers and with the team of course. It will be for us a very intense end of the season. We know that everyone wants to reach that; we are the same, with the others. It will not be easy because in the last couple of Grand Prix we saw that Mercedes and Lotus have increased their performance but we will fight up to the end, that’s for sure.

Q: ‘and on the subject, Ross, of that intense battle between now and the end of the season, is that something you welcome at Mercedes, or causing you a headache you could do without with 2014 and the big regulation changes looming large?
Ross Brawn: 
No, I think this business is mostly about managing several programmes and obviously from a development perspective most, or all, of our efforts are in the 2014 programme. Couple of things we still want to learn with this car and in terms of racing, I think what’s crucial for these last four races boils down to who races most effectively – because I think the teams are all quite close. We’ve not raced very well the last few races. I don’t think we’ve scored the points that we could have done or should have done and it’s now up to us to make sure we race well in the last four races. Of course if we had something available to make the car go faster, we’d fit it but we don’t – and I don’t think the others do, so I think between the three teams it’s a question now of who races well: the team; the strategy; the drivers and that will determine who finishes second in the championship.

Q: And there’s always that little matter of your future in the sport as well – something that might have been discussed on a few occasions in 2013. I think earlier this year you were quoted as saying there will be a soft hand-over to Paddy Lowe. You later denied that. Niki Lauda now says he wants you to stay. Lewis and Nico both want you to stay as well, so what conditions would keep you at Mercedes for the future?
RB:
 Well there is a transition going on. We’re just determining what will be the best timing for that. I want the team to be in the best possible place for next year, so I think when the time is right we’ll let everyone know what we’re doing. But at the present time that’s all I want to say on the matter.

Q: Christian, you’re quite a superstitious man and you will take nothing lightly for this weekend but there might be a stack of celebratory tee-shirts around the back of the Red Bull garage and the champagne might be on ice and it could be a double-championship winning celebration for you this weekend. What would it mean to you and to the Red Bull team to make it four double-championships in a row?
Christian Horner: 
Well firstly if there are tee-shirts I certainly haven’t seen any and they would be wise to keep them away from me. I think that should – should – we achieve a quadruple double-championship it would be an amazing feat for every single member of the team to achieve such results against such illustrious opposition. But those thoughts really aren’t in our minds at the moment. Our focus is very much on this event. The championship tables obviously look very healthy but it’s never done until it’s mathematically impossible for anybody else to win. So the whole team’s focus is very much on getting the most out of this weekend. And then the championship tables tend to take care of themselves. Should that happen here or in Abu Dhabi, the feeling of elation’ you can’t pre-describe because y’know, we haven’t got there yet. But certainly everybody in the team is focussed on the here and now.

Q: And whilst the celebrations are I’m sure welcome, a team that has achieved as much as Red Bull in the last few seasons attracts a lot of attention and teams up and down the pitlane and the paddock wanting to take staff from you to try and emulate that success. We’ve already seen Peter Prodromou moving to McLaren in the future. How difficult is it for you as team principal to keep the nucleus of this championship-winning team together for the future?
CH:
 Well, we have a very strong team and we’ve had tremendous continuity in the team for a long time now and y’know we’ve got great strength in depth and that’s one of the key assets of the Red Bull team. Inevitably, from time to time, people will move. That’s the nature of the sport, it’s something that happens to all the team principals sitting here. Inevitably, when you’re winning, there’s a lot of attraction on members of your team – but people enjoy working for Red Bull, they enjoy the environment, they enjoy the way we operate. We have a very, very low turnover in personnel. I don’t expect any further dramatic changes certainly into next year or the foreseeable future.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ubaid Parkar – F1 Pulse ) Question is for the back row: how much driver input has been required in the development of the 2014 car, considering the massive change in regulation? Has it been more or less or the same, considering a few seasons?
RB:
 Well, I think that in common with most teams, we have regular reviews with our drivers and understand with the car we’re racing now what’s strong, what’s weak, what needs to be improved and that gets translated by the engineers into the designs that we have for next year. I think they are a pretty vital link. Obviously these days we have a lot of data, we have a lot analysis, we have a lot of simulation, a lot of modelling and that also contributes as well, but the driver is still a vital part of that process and we work closely with Nico and Lewis to understand where they see our strengths and weaknesses – perhaps more importantly, our weaknesses and that contributes and that’s part of the process in designing and developing a new car.

Q: Is that the same at Maranello, Stefano?
SD:
 Yes, yes, I can agree with that. For sure, in the next couple of months these kind of things will be more and more closed because also from the team perspective we are trying to learn more and more how the new racing will develop next year, with all the systems, with all the constraints that we have in terms of regulations and of course we need to work together with the drivers because at the end of the day they are the ones that have to perform in the car so for sure, from now onwards will be a crucial time before starting the practice at the end of January, where also, from this side, we need to understand what it is all about because there are a lot of things which will really be brand new.
CH: Well, they’re pretty limited in what they can contribute at the moment because it’s a voyage of discovery for all of us. It’s going to be a very different type of racing next year with the introduction of these power units and new regulations. Obviously we’ve had to measure the drivers carefully, especially the width of their derrieres so they can fit in to the car. We’ve got a new driver next year as well, so their contribution is limited at the moment but that will inevitably gear up over the coming weeks and months.

Q: You’ve not had to stick either in a corset yet just to try and squeeze them down a bit?
CH:
 If it was down to Adrian they would both need to lose about 15 kilos between now and Melbourne next year but I think that’s fairly unlikely.

Q: (Shridhar Potdar – Sakal Media) Dr Mallya, this was voted as the most popular circuit by the F1 drivers in its debut year but next year BIC has no date and in 2015 nobody’s certain whether the race will happen or not. What’s your opinion about the approach of government?
VM:
 Well, when I was walking in this morning I met Mr J. P Gaur, the owner of the circuit and the promoter of the race and obviously I asked him about the continuance of the Indian Grand Prix. I must say I was very very happy when he confidently and enthusiastically confirmed that the race will be back in 2015 onwards on a sustainable basis so I was delighted to hear that.

Q: Did he give an indication as to what matters have been resolved, Dr Mallya, as to why it could come back again?
VM:
 Well, the official version given was that 2014 posed scheduling problems and therefore you couldn’t have a race now in October 2013 then in early 2014 so I wouldn’t like to comment or contradict that. All I’m interested in, as an Indian, and realising the vast potential that this country offers, and looking at the investment that has gone into creating this rightly voted number one facility, is that I want Formula One to be back in India and therefore I was delighted when the promoter confirmed that Formula One would be back from 2015 onwards.

Q: (Shridhar Potdar – Sakal Media) This question is about Sachin Tendulkar; Force India is paying tribute by carrying the words ‘Master Blaster’ on the car. What are your thoughts on the greatest sporting hero India has produced, Sachin Tendulkar?
VM:
 You know that cricket is a religion here in India and Sachin Tendulkar is arguably one of the best cricketers the world has ever produced. We are very very proud of his achievements, and as he signs off from test cricket after his 200 tests, we at Sahara Force India believe that it would only be a befitting tribute if we bid an appropriate farewell to the Master Blaster.

Q: (Bharat Sharma – IndoAsian News Service) Dr Mallya, your thoughts on the absence of an Indian on the drivers’ grid; there will be no Indian driver this time around and a thought on Jehan Daruvala as well, he’s won the British karting championship and Force India has always predicted him as being the next Indian driver on the F1 grid, so how is that coming along?
VM:
 I think that ever since I became involved as a team owner in Formula One I have consistently maintained that we will find an Indian driver who eventually will be in Formula One, and that’s why we started the Force India Formula One academy. Jehan Daruvala is a product of that academy and I’m absolutely delighted with the fact that he’s won the karting championship. Our efforts will continue, the programme will continue but producing a Formula One driver takes time and they have to be good enough and experienced enough to compete with the best in the world so I can only reinforce my commitment, I can’t quite predict when it will actually happen but one day hopefully it will.

Q: (Sandeep Sikdar- IndoAsian News Service) Yesterday my colleague questioned Christian Horner regarding the issues and hassles while coming to India. I want to put the same question to Ross Brawn and Stefano. What exactly are the paperwork hassles involved with coming to India?
SD:
 To be honest we didn’t have any problems at all, no issues with any kind of logistics or whatever it is on that respect. Honestly, for us it is important to see when we have such an important country like India hosting this Grand Prix, to make sure that the promotion is done in a way that… we are here and we can have all the fans of India cheering and stay close with the teams because this is something that for sure is an important element of the show.
RB: I think the same as Stefano. We’ve had a very smooth… the organisation behind it all has been very smooth, there’s been no problems at all, we’ve got everything here that we need to have here. We do enjoy the enthusiasm of the Indian fans and it’s a very important country for us to establish Formula One in so we support it completely and hope we’re going to be back here soon.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – RacingLines) If I have a look at the seating plan here, the three gentlemen at the back sit on the strategy group by right and those three in the front don’t sit on the strategy group by right. I would like to ask the three at the back to please justify the group as it stands whereby you people formulate or do the primary formulation of the Formula One in the future and those three in the front, how you feel about being excluded from the process and in particular Dr Mallya who has invested an enormous amount of money in his own team, how you feel about the fact that as a team owner you are excluded, whereas the three gentlemen at the back are employees and they are included?
CH:
 You can always rely on Dieter for a straightforward, easy question to answer. I don’t suppose I can talk about Dr Mallya’s haircut and avoid it that way. The strategic group obviously is a group of teams, the FIA and FOM and it’s part of a process that’s been introduced. It’s a group that previously didn’t exist and it’s to try and make more headway and a speedier way forwards for forming and creating regulations. All the teams still sit on the Formula One Commission that still very much exists, that has the right to reject or approve regulations to be introduced but the strategic group is made up of teams that have made a firm commitment to the sport for many years to come and it’s a way of hopefully effectively introducing changes with the consultation of others because other groups will still exist but it’s hopefully an efficient way of introducing changes to the sport in years to come and I think that it is a positive thing. Time will tell if it works or not.
SD: Nothing to add to what Christian said. The thing that I can say is that I’m sure that everyone knew about it and by everyone I assume that because they’ve signed the agreement, they have accepted this way forward and for sure we have the big responsibility to make sure that all the systems of Formula One will go and take the right way for the future and for sure, we feel this responsibility. We don’t want to say ‘listen, we don’t care about the others’ because that’s not really the case. So, we take that on board and I’m sure that time will tell if we’re doing a good job or not.
RB: Well, I think the responsibilities of that group are the general interests of Formula One. I think it’s vital that that group acts and takes decisions which are in the interests of everybody in Formula One. The structure of the group is something that I think was proposed by the FIA and the commercial rights holder and everyone in Formula One signed up to it. I think it’s just important that group does take the proper view on all the interests in Formula One.
MK: Well, we in the front row, while asked about how we feel about it and clearly Sauber is not so comfortable with it because we are not on it. We have nothing, as such, against a group that looks at certain matters and can bring up ideas and also maybe say that this is the right way to go ahead but what matters is that all interests should be represented. Teams like Force India or Sauber are part of the competition and we cannot be happy by being excluded by this group because we do feel that we have to ensure that that’s where the danger lies that there’s a proper representation of interests in there.
EB: We are not a permanent part of this group but we are lucky enough to be part of this group now so sitting between these two chairs, I think there are some positive and some negative points. I can understand being there and not participating. I understand the frustration of the teams not being there. It’s true that it was a wish from the FIA and FOM to have another group, let’s say, before the F1 Commission to try to maybe go for decisions. For sure the proposal is to bring it to F1 and make it better and then bring these suggestions to the F1 Commission where they can be debated. We will see in the future if it works, as Christian said.
VM: When this was first mooted, I definitely did question whether the intention was to restrict decision-making to the six teams, to the exclusion of the smaller teams but when I was assured that that was not going to be the case, that the strategy group was to advise on future strategy concerning Formula One, to be then debated or voted upon at the Formula One Commission where all teams are represented, that obviously was a source of comfort. I’ve spoken individually to many team principals who are part of the big six as I call them, and all of them have assured me, as indeed Stefano did now, that they will look after the interests of all, which includes the smaller teams and on the basis of that assurance, I actually voted to approve this new structure at the World Motor Sport Council, so so long as things work out the way they are intended to, only time will tell.

Q: (Rachit Thukral – RachF1) Question to Eric Boullier: a lot of people have been discussing about the second seat at Lotus next season. Why is your test driver, Davide Valsecchi, not on that list of drivers?
EB:
 It’s not true actually, Davide is on the list but to bring to the grid next year a driver with no experience is a huge step for them – I’ve done it twice with them, first with Petrov and then with a semi-rookie Grosjean and I think I’ve had enough to be honest with you. Davide is on the list because we consider him as a good driver, as a GP2 champion but it’s true that if you favour a scenario for next year it will be a driver with experience. If we cannot find any driver with experience, fitting the strategy of the team, obviously we will go for a rookie driver and then Davide is obviously on the top of the list. It looks harsh, I’m sorry but it’s true.

Q: How near are you to filling that second seat now, Eric?
EB:
 Hopefully a few days.

Q: (Amanpreet Singh- PTI) Dr Mallya, one of your drivers said that we have probably sacrificed fifth position this season, to be at least fifth next year. How do you see this season for your team considering that you may lose even the sixth spot now?
VM:
 Well, I wouldn’t be as pessimistic as you sound. Yes, there was a time earlier this season when we were in fifth position ahead of McLaren. If we perform well over the next four races there’s no reason why we can’t regain fifth but as I said earlier, the lady on my left (MK) has certainly given us a wake-up call and so we will do everything we can to stay in sixth but having said that, yes, we’ve dedicated our resources to the development of the 2014 car.

Q: (Kate Walker – GP Week) Monisha, at one of the recent press conferences, maybe Singapore, you spoke about the way in which Formula One teams have often shot themselves in the foot when it comes to looking after their own self interests rather than the collective interest. Given that history often tends to repeat itself, how much faith do you have in the larger teams looking after the smaller teams’ interests in the strategy commission?
MK:
 Well, like Vijay actually said earlier, you have to have faith in the teams you’ve known for a long while and you work together with and I think it’s no secret to anyone in Formula One that we’ve had a very successful partnership for many years with Ferrari and they have said a lot of things where maybe we as a small team in the partnership benefited more than others in partnership. As an example, if you look at KERS, what we had decided Ferrari exactly said with us as towards the customer which we were. So I think you have to come in here with a certain amount of trust but at the end of the day we are competitive, but we are all in this together so that’s the perspective we take, that there will always be things where bigger teams have a different view to smaller ones but I’m confident that eventually decisions will be taken which have to be good for the sport because we are part of the sport, and in my view, Formula One needs more constructors than just the big teams.

Q: (Shridhar Potdar – Sakal Media) One for everyone; you know previously there was a third title – apart from drivers and constructors – counting for the world championship. Nowadays the tyre championship has been stopped and everybody knows the problems that Pirelli have created this season. Michelin has showed willingness to come back and make F1 tyres. Do you think that a three way title race would make F1 more interesting and do you support the need for a tyre constructors’ title?
RB:
 They were pretty exciting times but hugely expensive in terms of track development. I remember at the time when I was at Ferrari we had a car testing almost continuously doing tyre work for the manufacturer and in our case, we had Bridgestone fairly well devoted to our programme. It can be exciting but it’s a huge investment for a tyre company, huge investment for the teams. I don’t think the climate at the moment is right for there to be a tyre war and that’s what’s evolved in a lot of top class formulae. The cost of a tyre war is not sustainable. It’s happened in MotoGP, it’s happened in Formula One and however exciting it is, it’s very very costly in what are quite tough times at the moment.
CH: You couldn’t probably have more conflicting tyres than have come to this race but I think, as Ross says, to reintroduce a tyre war would not only be massively expensive you would also end up with two classes of racing because there are then the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ and what we have at the moment with a sole tyre supplier is that everybody has the same tyre, everybody has the same compound, everybody has the same opportunity. The testing obviously is heavily restricted now as well. So as an independent team, it offers a far more level playing field and obviously the challenges that all of the teams face now are the intricacies of the Pirelli tyres and how they perform from circuit to circuit and compound to compound, which is a different engineering challenge in itself and certainly will create some interesting strategies no doubt this weekend.

Q: (Ajit Devadason – Syfi.com) To all team principals: a few engine manufacturers have previewed the engines of 2014 on the net and social media and it hasn’t been accepted well by most Formula One fans in discussion forums. Do you agree or disagree that engine sound is a strong USP of Formula One, especially when you’re going into new markets?
SD:
 Well, for sure, the element of the engine sound is very important, no doubt about it, but on the other side we need to say that in the last couple of years we’ve moved from V12 that was a fantastic engine for Ferrari with fantastic high revs, high frequency, to V10, then to V8. Now we’re going to be V6 with turbo and then it’s just a matter of fine tuning the noise – I mean the sound, apologies for the wrong word – and then of course that is vital for the show, above all for the people who are coming to the track, because unfortunately you don’t feel it too much on television.

Q: How do the new V6s sound to you, Eric?
EB:
 Different, it’s true. I remember the V12 as well, the sound of music, but it’s part of the necessity to move ahead and bring new technology and to follow the technology that you use in your car every day, so I think it’s still going to be a pretty exciting sport.

Q: Have you had a listen to the new V6s yet, Monisha?
MK:
 I did actually, a while ago, when I visited our engine supplier so considering what Stefano said I have full trust that Ferrari will also sort out that issue.
VM: All I can say is that I have participated in many meetings where Bernie (Ecclestone) has absolutely insisted that there can be no compromise on noise, so I guess there will be no compromise on noise – excuse me Stefano, music, not noise.

Q: To use a Spinal Tap reference, Ross, can we turn the noise up to eleven?
RB:
 Yes. I think we actually need to see the cars on the circuit because I don’t think a recording of a dyno cycle is actually that representative. If you listen to a V8 on the dyno it sounds nothing like it does in the car. I think we should all wait and see. It is what we have and we have to get behind it and it’s an exciting new period with these power trains. I think we needed to make a transition at some stage, we’re making it now, there’s no going back and I think it will be exciting for the fans but we’ll see how it sounds when we get out on the circuit. I remember the early turbo days and they seemed pretty exciting to me and we’ve had a whole range of different engines since then. I don’t think – to be honest – that they’re been more or less exciting than each other. Just different.
CH: Well, I’ve heard it on the internet. That’s as much as I’ve heard. Noise of a Formula One car is part of the DNA of Formula One. When people come to a Grand Prix for the first time, the thing that really stands out more than anything is the noise. Noise translates into speed, into excitement and so on, and I think it’s absolutely crucial that we don’t lose that element. We have to reserve judgement until we hear the cars next year; hopefully, whilst it will be a different noise, it will be an exciting noise that conveys what the sport is all about. Only time will tell.

Q: (Will Buxton – NBC Sports) One to you all if I may. To pick up on Dieter’s point earlier about the Strategy Group, the elephant in the room right now is that under cost saving initiatives, customer cars appear to be something that may be considered moving into the future. To the three gentlemen in the back, are customer cars something that you would like to push for moving into the future? And to the three guests on the front of the panel, are customer cars something ever something you would consider taking on? And furthermore to the point Vijay made about trust in the teams that are on the panel, can you ever truly trust the teams on the panel give that by your very nature you are competing entities?
SD:
 I just can say that we had the first meeting of the Strategy Group on Monday and of course this status was on the table and we will discuss it at the appropriate level. No decision or action has been taken. It is a topic related to the cost of Formula One, so I cannot add more than that at the moment.
CH: It’s an interesting debate, really, because if you look at costs and the cost drivers in Formula One, the necessity to have four or five hundred people in order to even compete is, in all reality, too high. Now if you’re just looking at it from a pure cost point of view, the most logical way to take out a huge amount of cost would be to sell a car or a year-old car in its entirety. Now whether that goes against the grain of what a constructor should be and is in current Formula One is a separate debate. But if you are absolutely transfixed on saving costs, it is, without a shadow of a doubt the most effective way to reduce costs. Whether it’s the right thing to do is obviously another questions. Inevitably there is going to be a lot of debate about it and it’s something that, as a sport, we need to be open-minded to.
RB: I don’t think we, as a team, are particularly enamoured with the idea of customer cars. I think we are more keen on working towards reducing the base cost of the cars for all teams. And perhaps finding ways of sharing parts that are non-performance differentiators. I know the one that gets classically mentioned is the pedal system and a lot of the parts of the car that are not performance differentiators between the competitors but everybody makes their own pedals and makes their own steering racks, because we have to. I think there is some progress that can be made in those areas without damaging the DNA of the sport at all. We should work on that. I think one point I would make and I think Vijay made it, is the security of the F1 Commission, because whatever the Strategy Group decides, if the F1 Commission rejects it, then it doesn’t go any further, it has to go back into the Strategy Group to try to improve the proposal. In theory, there is no way that an unpopular or unsupported idea from the Strategy Group could make it into the regulations unless the F1 Commission was happy with it.

Q: Vijay, you’ve already touched on having full faith in the Strategy Working Group, do you have trust over the issue of customer cars as well?
VM:
 As far as Sahara Force India is concerned we are completely opposed to the even the concept of customers cars. Let’s just go back to the days when FOTA functioned as a comprehensive, cohesive unit. One of the key elements of the FOTA discussions was how to reduce the costs in Formula One for everybody. But then some of the big teams refused to reduce their costs, and as a result of which the whole resource restriction element went out of the window. Now to try to address lowering of costs through a radical customer car concept is ridiculous in my view. What happens to the smaller teams that have factories, that employ hundreds of people and who are effectively running companies. You can’t just discard everything and just buy a one-year old car from an established team and go motor racing. I think that affects the total DNA of Formula One from the day it was started.
MK: I absolutely agree with that. Sauber’s been in motorsport now for more than 40 years and our core business is making race cars in different series, so we are absolutely against this concept of a customer car because we’re ruining our own business here. I think there are other ways to reduce costs, one way maybe is setting certain financial limits, the other one is also to look at the regulations. An effective way could be through this group and then the commission that you have stability and therefore ‘seeability’ and that you no longer have to do investment in one season where you exactly know that the next season that this device or whatever is going to be forbidden again. So there are many ways to get hold of the costs and reduce them, which is very important for Formula One. But when you introduce these kind of measures you’re changing so much. This will not lead to any cost reduction because you might have four teams in there that are capable of putting in that much money, but at some point in time – they are all in their to win – when they don’t do that and maybe just end up with a few points they leave the sport as well. So it’s a very dangerous route to go down.

Q: Final word to Eric.
EB:
 I think that customer cars are against the DNA of Formula One personally. But I think obviously there is a cost restriction that needs to be in place in Formula One. We all agree with this. Actually even the teams on the back row agree there us some cost saving to be done. It’s maybe as Vijay said a wake-up call. If we just think about the concept of customer cars we maybe will sit down all together and agree on a cost saving, which is obviously a budget cap or something else, which is based on the RRA or the old RRA, because at the end we know you cannot cut solely the costs just by switching off the wind tunnel or something else in the company. We need to make it in a way where there is no intrusive manner into any team developments, which obviously will suit some of us here. Also another way is to leave people the choice what they want to do to save costs but we have to have some rules in place. At the end if we don’t do this it’s going to be more and more difficult obviously to survive. So if you want to avoid the customer car’ we can maybe run three cars in the near future to keep a decent grid but still it’s more money and it’s against cost saving, so we need to think and think cleverly about it.

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55 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 25th October 2013

  1. Regarding McLaren and the mosquito-infested Hilton…yes, yuck indeed! And totally not acceptable situation for the drivers to endure, but honestly, support staff should be able to expect better too! It’s not easy though in a country like India, I imagine, as the inefficiencies must be epic. While not totally analogous, we often used to suffer the same misery in Cuba, even when staying in what they considered to be four or five star “resort” hotels throughout the island: insatiable mosquitoes and the risk of Dengue. One year, in Guantanamo (the Cuban town, not the US Naval facility) the skeeters were so bad I had to buy a proper mosquito netting for over the bed. Epic. (and never again! lol…)

    • Agreed. Have been in similar circumstances in TWCs where the hotel operators have at least been pro-active and got off their tired arses and carried out regular and persistant fogging to minimise the the risks. This seems to be just another example why International events like F1 shouldn’t even be in that particular country!

      • You’re right, Peter – even in TWCs or the “less-developed” world, all it takes is an adequate supply of insecticide or other product(s) and regular, disciplined hard work on part of staff/operators to make the hotel experience tolerable, if not downright pleasant even. I know that if I ran a hotel that was hosting international elite sportsmen and their support staff, I would bend over backwards to create the best experience for them possible, so they remembered the time w/ fond memories. Do the Indians not care about F1 in general, or they just don’t support McLaren?

    • Thanks for that Joe…

      I was in Sri Lanka with my companion at the time about 12 years ago. We were sat outside the alleged 5* hotel on the first night and the beasties ate her alive….

      Her ankles were double the size of normal for the whole time we were there and STRANGELY not one bite on me 🙂

      • Cheers, Judge (BTW: I left you another comment below re. DIETER RENCKEN and would really like to hear/read your response. I think Rencken’s skeptical voice is one of the most important in the circle of regularized F1 media right now (not trying to exclude you or lump your operation in w/ that group, so don’t think I’m slighting you or guilt by assoc.!), and perhaps the only one who genuinely seems to care enough about the fans to actually speak truth to power.) – are the skeeters bad in Germany (or wherever you currently reside)? There’ve not been so bad during the summer here in Pennsylvania at all (but haha watch my neighbor 10 doors down prolly says the opposite, since Ilve almost at the summit of a long climb w/ no standing water near our property).

    • Now this does piss me off.

      A sponsorship deal is more important than employee health?

      Martin is a disgrace to move himself and his drivers. A real leader would have stayed with his troops.

      I am disappointed, but notsurprised. Another ‘look at how important i am’ ego

      • Why don’t they just sort the bloody hotel out the day before everyone arrives – mass fumigation and keep the effin doors closed…..

        …then again, sounds like it was a stupid place to build the hotel…..

        • Yep. An open sewer right beside it.

          But i still think a Google search would have told them how good, or not, it was.

          I expect they’re getting the rooms for free as part o the sponsorship.

          • In all fairness to Martin, it may be the fact that the hotel operator assured them that the problem no longer existed, had been rectified, would be/was being taken care of, etc. I don’t know what advance staff McLaren would send to the hotel before the drivers would arrive, nor how soon in advance they’d get there nor what influence they’d have, but I think that we should give the team the benefit of the doubt … after all, Martin did move his most important staff to a safer lodging location once the problem was identified (as still existing or have resurfaced). No way they would intentionally try to stay at a mozzie-infested Hanoi Hilton! … Right? ???

          • Not so sure Joe.

            The fact that he left and left the troops behind is what rankles.

            If you want to move some key staff fair enough, but he could have stayed with the troops.

      • I don’t fault Martin for moving the drivers to the better hotel, and it only makes sense for him to also move to ensure that they are all three (and … who else, surely not literally just the 3 of em? but i digress…) in contact w/ the team – I mean that the two drivers, via Martin, are able to be not just in direct contact w/ team (via a team staffer) but they also have Martin there w/ them to deal w/ any “issues” that might arise, rather than having to take care of it themselves. (This might sound fruity, but can’t overstate the importance of removing all stress and “work” from the talent so that they can focus wholly on preparing for the race…truly the case w/ elite int’l sportsmen…) >>> BUT I agree that it looks terrible from perspective of egalitarianism and creates appearance of mechanics as peons, for example.

        But this honestly isn’t a big deal. In 2002 Vuelta a Cuba, Mapei’s star riders (including Pipo Pozzato and Bernhard Eisel) moved from a 3-star hotel in Cienfuegos to the only 5-star location to escape the mossies that the rest of us were stuck with. But they deserved it, given that they were of great stature, and they brought tremendous publicity and interest to the race that wouldn’t have been the case otherwise.

        It’s not nice to see if you’re big into equality and all that socialist manifesto stuff, but c’mon – it’s elite (motor)sport and there’s nothing egalitarian about it! The only ones who look bad in this are the Indian hotel proprietors who aren’t properly maintaining proper standards!

        • I think its more about leadership than socialism myself.

          If will definitely loose respect within the team for this, even if its not reported.

          • Hey, I completely understand your feelings, and I also think that the troops “left behind” (to quote another post) are not so overly-sensitive as to rake the team boss over the coals for moving the drivers to a safer venue. I hardly imagine it would be cost-effective to move the entire staff to a 5-star luxury hotel, even though no doubt they’d all appreciate it. But they know that if their drivers stay in the mozzie-world and are sickened by a bite and fail to perform and get worse results than usual, that impacts them all more negatively than if one of the PR girls gets a lot of bites on her creamy white skin.

          • As I said, Colin, I can understand why this would rankle, and at the same time, having been in the same situation (on both ends, as both “talent” and DS/manager) – I think it completely appropriate for the team boss to stay with the athletes and not leave them w/ the 2nd in command or lesser staff.

            One of Whitmarsh’s subordinates can command order over and rally the troops left behind who are in danger of being overwhelmed by the mozzies, while Martin stands tall w/ Jenson and the less-tall Perez at the resort hotel, should they have to file or respond to a FIA protest, for example.

            What’s missing here is a voice from one of the mechanics or PR girls left behind – what do THEY actually think about MW’s cutting and running?

  2. Ah the joys of a warm climate… mozzies! 🙂 I can remember being at boarding school in Namibia and South Africa when you hear them circle at night. As long as you hear them it’s fine, it’s when they go quiet that you start slapping away!

    My girlfriend was in that Hilton recently and when she came back she looked like she had chicken pox. Not much you can do to get them out bar fumigating the hotel (meaning shut it down) and then keep everything closed. Does not help either that it is built close to an open sewer..

  3. the mclaren article is interesting, but concerning their record of blundered pit stops, i’m not exactly sure the good people at heathrow made a wise decision using their prediction software…

    • The McLaren article seems to be a cut and paste from their PR department……….. Not very original or informative stuff, Judge; more like a load of corporate BS – almost like a driver’s interview nowadays.

  4. India race to go ahead? No way! Can’t believe it!
    Vettel first in practice? No way! Can’t believe it!

    Apologies Judge, it’s not a take on you, just all things F1 made me a bit of a cynic today.

      • JUDGE: I’m a *huge* fan of the work of DIETER RENCKEN, and I think that his relentless effort to expose the dangerous corrupting influence of private-equity cash on F1 through uncompromising investigative journalism is worthy of a sports-journalism prize.

        Do you support his skepticism and his refusal to be co-opted into uncritical cheerleading (a la Christian Horner)? Every time I try to draw attention to his (DR’s) work via F1FanaticUK, they delete my comments as if they’re threatened or embarrassed by the difference b/w real journalism like what Rencken does, and the reprinting of press releases w/o any fundamental analysis that defines most of their “content” “creation.”

        Please share your thoughts…

  5. “Again, Romain Grosjean appears to be the only competition who can force the Bull’s pairing to bother glancing in their mirrors, and team mate Kimi again was off the pace by nearly a whole second.”

    Judge,something going on between you and Romain???Are you seeing 2x of what Grosjean is ‘actually’ doing???

    3 R Grosjean (FRA) Lotus 1’26.220
    8 KM Räikkönen (FIN) Lotus 1’26.632

    From when has 0.632-0.220=1s???Sure,Kimi has been outqualifyed and grinded by the media for it,but you are doing twice the grinding…

    • jee1, don’t jump so fast, think twice contrarily to what Bob Dylan used to say!

      FP1 :
      4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m26.990s +0.307s
      17. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m28.730s +2.047s

    • …I’ll have you know, I was a lone voice last year – sticking up for Romain.. when Herbert et al wanted him beheaded…

      People who know more than I do were telling me he would be a world champion if he could stay in the sport, and those comments I made back then are a matter of record….

      … so it’s like when you say something, and everyone says your talking $%£^&*^ and then you’re proved right…

      …I feel like a proud dad 🙂 – but not very French…

      ….though there’s nothing wrong with that…being French that is…its just I’ve not had garlic for a few days… or taken a bike ride with a large string of onions wrapped around me….or played my accordion either….

      • Oh la la!

        Can can time!!!

        He got a good pasting from Mark and Fernando last year, especially the first lbs nutcase comment.

        I like him, and hope he does well.

    • calculator not feeling well today… sorry..

      ..still I’m predicting the same podium as last time out… looks like Kimi not as good with Pirelli 2013 mark 2….

    • jee1, don’t mention it (for the typo) 😛

      thejudge13, If I may help with a beret, a baguette and perhaps a bottle of Côtes Roties? Just let me know and we’ll let Romain do the cooking, his also good at that I was told. Not this WE mind you, he’ll be busy chasing the Red Bull! 😉

  6. Let me give my version of translating Brawn:

    “I want to stay for another 1-2 years to see where McLaren/Honda will be. If they oust me now, they will fail! After 2 years, I can decide whether to retire or go to McLaren. Whatever success they (Merc) achieve after I go, it’ll be because of me, but if they don’t succeed, it’ll be because they ousted me too early.”

    • Your Honour’s reading of Brawn’s remarks appear to be distinctly different from what I took away from those same remarks.

      There are two questions about Brawn. First, will he stay at Mercedes? Second, if he leaves, will he retire, or move to another F1 team?

      Given that he used the “transition” word twice on whether he will stay, that questions seems to be answered. Earlier he said, “…the transition will eventually be handing over to Toto and Paddy…”. Then in the FIA press conference, when asked what conditions would enable him to stay, he answered, “Well there is a transition going on.” So, present tense usage of the magic transition verb. One can imagine what it would’ve taken for him to stay at Mercedes (perhaps reporting directly to Mercedes, instead of two little chiefs… er minority owners?), but it looks like he is leaving.

      As he mentioned in the earlier interview, he does want to stay in F1. So now the speculation is to which team will he transition himself?

      • Interesting insight/interpretation of it, Vortex. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Brawn, who I hope continues in F1. But surely Hammy must be super-distraught if Ross is being pushed outta Merc and won’t be there in 2014? I thought RB was to Hamilton what new figa is to a divorced guy who’s finally getting some action again – something you don’t want to give up and always want to have at hand!? (not that I’d know, not having gone through such a transition yet lol)

        • Hamilton will be Back with McLaren if brawn goes their, defo 2016 maybe 2015 if he can’t get on so well with paddy, Toto and Niki, (sounds like the characters from a childrend animation) all trying to have their say on how to do the job brawn has been doing on his own LOL. I really see a lewis/fernando/ross team at McLaren as whitmarsh is good with the business and Ross good with the tech/strategy they would make a good combination.

  7. Very interesting press conference. Looks like customer cars is a no no.

    The magic roundabout that is cost reduction continues…..

  8. Pirelli should be excluded from F1 with immediate effect. Drivers (Perez, Vettel, Grosjean, Hamilton, Ricciardo) reporting that the soft tyre doesn’t even survive a single lap. The spaghetti’s obviously lost the plot completely. What a fucking travesty awaits us on Sunday?First pitstops in lap 3? If that happens, I’m gonna personally torch a Pirelli dealer near my dwelling…

      • How do you gauge my status of intoxication without even knowing where I am? Hm? Nostradamus looks like an amateur in comparison to your awesomeness…

    • Because their car division is to blame?
      The teams should also use the tyre as it’s intended, meaning, use the right camber, the right pressure and no more mounting the left on the right side and the right on the left side.

      • They’ve not done this since Silverstone, yet nobody knows how long the options will last tomorrow. It could be dead after 3 laps or 10 laps. That’s 50km for christ sake – there are people, who can run further than these tyres. It’s ridiculous.

    • If the race is a farce then something must be done.

      Hopefully the drivers will kick up a fuss.

      Just wondering what would have happened if the tyres were still 2013 spec?

      Surely their reputation is being battered so badly that they will have to consider leaving. But as they’ve signed contracts with all the teams it would cost a fortune.

      Can’t help think that Todt might have a French option up his sleeve, and is hoping for a pull out.

      I’m sure Bernard is covered financially too.

      Who’ll blink first?

  9. I have not been a Pirelli fan ever since their CN36 street tires back in the early ’70’s. HOWEVER, it is massively ludicrous they do not yet have their desire to properly TEST!! I almost actually desire they screw the pooch (FIA, FOM, TEAMS, etc.) and leave all of F1 dead in the water come January… serves a bunch or narcissistic, self-indulgent, self-rightious POS jagoffs proper IMHO…

    • Titan, what they’ve got is what they signed on for some seasons ago now. Bugger all has changed since then. Then you should consider all the noise, publicity and crap Hembery created in the lead up to supply for 2014. Testing wasn’t quite the major whilst that was swinging, now it’s gone their way we’re crying again. Hey, I agree, it’s stupid but they didn’t have to be there.

      • “I agree, it’s stupid but they didn’t have to be there.” <<< right, which is why they're threatening to leave – b/c they can, and they don't *have* to be in F1, and certainly shouldn't if their participation is hurting their business interests! FIA and FOM need to WAKE-UP!

        • It would be pretty funny if after all the slating of Pirelli, they either abandon F1 next year at the 11th hour, or provide rock hard tyres bridgestone would be proud of, thus leading us to criticise F1 once more for lack of overtaking. Although, with the engine and fuel management next year, who knows!

  10. Is there any reason for the different use of initials between drivers on the listing? JE Vergne is pretty clear as he uses both names. But why is it LC Hamilton is that’s he new artist name? And why KM for Kimi Matias but not JA for Jenson Alexander? All the rest seem to have only one initial except the new JJ.

    Just wondering while protecting myself from the tropical Mosquitos.

  11. But judge, Grosjean is not even French, he is Swiss.
    Anyway if Hulk joins Lotus, he would be better than Grosjean especially come race day. Hulk is a good replacement for Raikkonen & will be the leader that Lotus is looking for.

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