This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how significant this is and has helped grow our community significantly in the past couple of months – thank you.
Kimi return to Sauber
Some times ex-F1 drivers should stay in exile and leave us with the fantastic memories we have of their career. Recently Mika Hakkinen argued that Kimi had to defend against Grosjean in the Indian GP because he was taking the quickest line through the corner to preserve his tyre performance. Uuurrmm… Mika…. tosh!
Well another Mika – Mr. Salo – is making some bold claims today following Kimi’s threat to withdraw his services from Lotus for the Austin and Interlagos GP’s. Raikkonen stated unless the team kept their side of the bargain – ie paid him some cash before Austin – he would not turn up.
“Let’s see if Kimi is in Austin,” Salo commented to Finnish broadcaster MTV3, adding intriguingly, “and in what car. It’s probably the most anticipated thing about the whole American Grand Prix weekend. There have been rumours Kimi will drive at Sauber instead of a Lotus.”
This kind of speculation is clearly driven from the fact that Hulkenberg has been released from his contract earlier in the year by Sauber and is Boullier’s preferred replacement for Kimi. So, were Raikkonen to strike in Austin, it would make sense to give Nico a run in the Lotus.
The Finns appear to be sticking together in support of Kimi and this could merely be Salo stirring the water on behalf of his countryman. Salo continues, “For now it’s just a rumour, Kimi loves to drive, but the atmosphere at Lotus is no more good for him. Sauber is also short of money and has not paid Nico Hulkenberg.”
So why would Kimi drive for Sauber instead of Lotus – out of spite? The Iceman’s reputation and brand is taking something of a hit following his blazing row in the hospitality suite following the Indian GP and further failing to fulfil his side of the contractual commitments with the press in Abu Dhabi last Thursday. Lotus will either pay Raikkonen – or there will be a legal battle – and Kimi is doing himself no favours losing his cool and getting involved in brinkmanship games. He should stay above the fray.
Salo concludes, “If Kimi is in Austin, he will definitely be on it. Our Finnish mentality is that no matter what is going on it doesn’t affect our performance. We sit in the car and drive it as hard as we can.”
Hulkenberg not concerned Lotus will pay him
Hulkenberg has to be the consider pretty unlucky in the failure to be remunerated stakes. Force India still owe him money, Sauber haven’t paid him and he’s favourite to go to Lotus’ who have have been criticised by their lead driver for not paying him ‘a single euro this year’.
Yetr Nico is not concerned this would happen to him were he to drive for the Enstone team. He explains why to GP Week, “I think Kimi has a very different salary to mine. That is the first point, it is a lot larger. You know, I think, it will be a different case. Things change and I’m not super worried about that. I think you have three or four big teams which are financially quite stable. Everybody else is struggling a little bit in terms of finance so it’s difficult. “
TJ13 reported last month that Hulkenberg had stated he would not sign for the Lotus team until they had completed their deal with Quantum Motorsports. His position appears to have softened now. “Yes, you do want [financial security]. Of course that’s an important point nowadays in Formula One, just for a team to be able to keep the development up, to keep going, to keep being competitive. It is an expensive sport to run if you’ve noticed; it’s no secret. I think for the team, for themselves, for Lotus, I think it is important to find that deal and finalise it and have the security and stability.”
TJ13 believes there have been high level talks with Genii and Renault during the week between the Indian GP and Abu Dhabi. This is a last ditch attempt to secure long term funding on more preferential terms to Lotus than Quantum are offering.
Pirelli to get 2013 car to test 2014 tyres
During the Abu Dhabi weekend, Niki Lauda called a meeting of team bosses to discuss the Pirelli 2014 tyre testing issues. Lauda told the gathering, “We need to help Pirelli, if we want to avoid the drama of this year. It is just stupid to moralise when there is a crisis and it is in all our interests to provide Pirelli with 2013 cars for testing”.
The problem is that unless Pirelli get agreement from all the teams for this kind of testing in December and January – prior to Jerez – the rule makers will not change the regulations. Pirelli say it is absurd to be testing 2014 tyres on a 2011 car, and even this will not be possible from January 2014 as the 2011 cars are deemed as ‘current’.
Some teams are reticent to agree as they can’t afford to go testing and feel they would be disadvantaged were those who can do so with prototype 2014 rubber. One options discussed was that Free Practice on Friday at Interlagos be replaced with a day of 2014 tyre testing.
Pirelli have been holding out for a 5 year deal starting 2014, though the FIA object to this as they claim EU law requires them to appoint such suppliers in the future by tender. It appears a compromise is close to being agreed.
Italy’s La Gazzetta reportsPirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera now reveals, “We have asked for an exclusive agreement for three years”, and that, “We are in the final stages now. There is no pressure, but we have a very close collaboration with the federation, because the tyres are used according to our instructions.”
On the topic of testing 2014 tyres Provera adds, “We expect it to be formalised that tests will be done with a 2013 car”, and also that further “tests may take place during the season.” Leading the way, Lauda states, “We will have a 2013 car ready for Pirelli when they want it, and the others should do the same,”
Force India accuse Red Bull again
TJ13 informed readers that certain F1 teams do not shut down during the summer break, only to receive some criticism for suggesting rules may be flagrantly broken.
It has been noted in certain F1 quarters that the Red Bull team appears to return from holiday with a much improved car, and it has been their post August break performance which clinched both 2012 and 2013 titles.
The evidence presented to the FIA has been sufficiently persuasive for them to act. The teams have been contacted by Paris informing them that the FIA intend to monitor compliance with the summer break rules beginning in 2014.
Interestingly, the resistance to such measures has been primarily noted to be from Milton Keynes. One of the controls suggested by the FIA was to monitor the activity of the team’s suppliers. Red Bull have successfully argues there is no legal basis for this, according to a source from the FIA.
Publically, Red Bull are dismissing the allegations that they develop the car over the Summer break. Herr Marko said on Servus TV, “We are better after the summer break, because we’ve been on holiday, though the factory shutdown does not stop us thinking”.
Marko adds, “Sebastian is particular good in September because he is always more motivated when he comes back, while the others appear to be feeling the weight of pressure of the season”.
Vettel believes, “We understand out car better after the summer, the development comes quicker and I can squeeze more from the car”. Yet some of Red Bull’s opponents believe there is more than thinking going on during the break in August.
Force India recently requested the FIA perform tests on the floor of the RB9 to ensure it is compliant and now believe Red Bull are using their filming days for more than just advertising and promotion.
TJ13 claimed in October that Red Bull have already run the new ‘ugly’ nose in Idiada, and now Force India believe the same to be true. They have requested that an observer be sent to Rockingham for the next Red Bull ‘filming day’.
Apparently they find it hard to believe that this venue is sexy enough for promotional work, and believe that more than 100km in the day is being driven as regulated by article 6 of the test regulations.
Red Bull took 24 hours to reply, but under the testing regulations have agreed to the Force India observer.
I’l say it again, F1 away from the track is predominantly policed by agreement to abide within the rules, and teams regular break the agreements and rules – such as the testing and filming day regulations.
The most ridiculous part of all this is that it is the responsibility of the FIA to regulate, at least with an observer, all sessions where F1 cars are being run. It should not be the job of some bloke from Force India with his Nikon camera and long lens.
Alonso still silent
Maybe Fernando is taking a holiday with his girlfriend, renovating an old 1960’s Ferrari or just taking a long walk. Yet the stark fact is, even when partaking in such endeavours, the most avid user of twitter amongst the current F1 drivers usually keeps us informed on what he is up to.
Fernando has now been silent for 48 hours, since telling us he was to undergo further medical tests from his injury in Abu Dhabi.. something most unusual.
Sauber Sirotkin deal shattered
Information is sketchy, and no reasons are given, but Swiss publication Blick is suggesting that the Sirotkin deal between Sauber and the Russian investors is ‘shattered’. The inference is that the Russians have lawyers now in Geneva looking at how they can sue the Sauber team.
Further, there is a suggestion Sirotkin’s backers are being replaced by a large investment sourced in Dubai.
Newey says 2014 car compromised
Red Bull were back home and settled yesterday for the first time since winning their F1 titles in India, and it was a day they dedicated to media work. Interestingly a number of one on one interviews were given and so the stories emerging may well have a different emphasis and be on a range of topics unlike during an F1 weekend, where mass media pack interviews are more the norm.
ESPN discussed with Newey the state of readiness of their 2014 programme. Newey had this to offer, “I guess in terms of development this year, we felt we were being pushed quite hard by our rivals, Ferrari very much at the start [of the season] – Fernando can never be forgotten – and then Mercedes started to look very strong in the mid season.
We had to keep pushing and we put a lot of work into developing this year’s car, which in truth meant some compromise to the development of next year’s car, but we felt we needed to do that.
You could argue with 20:20 hindsight that we could have backed off earlier than we did and put more of our resources into next year, but if we’d done that too early and not got the championship we’d be feeling pretty sick at the moment.”
Worryingly for those who believe aero is too big a part of the sport, Newey believes, “Some of what we have learnt [in recent months] will transfer to next year as well because the underlying aerodynamics are still similar. Other bits, unfortunately, have met their natural evolution and can’t be applied to next year’s regulations.”
Of course all the aero work around the diffuser will become redundant, however, Red Bull have been working on suspension developments and wake management – and in this area they do feel as though they are at least on target if not ahead of the game.
Of course there is the possibility that one engine manufacturer will develop an all round best package which will optimise the balance between power and fuel efficiency better than the others.
Stefano Domenicali underlined this thought process when he said last week, “The first races will be the most important next year. Whoever has the most wins at an early stage of the season will succeed in the end. I am convinced.”
At least Stefano isn’t politicking and trying to stretch his ‘last chance saloon’ year for too long. There will be no reason if Ferrari are way off the pace by Barcelona, that heads shouldn’t roll in Maranello.
Nico Rosberg is confident that Mercedes will deliver in 2014. “Earlier this season, without the regulation change, we were sometimes the fastest car. We did an amazing job last winter and I am confident we can do it again. Ok, this year we’ve had some weaknesses but we’ve learned from it. I am very sure we can have a good season.”
Yet it would be foolish to overlook Renault. There were at times noises of complaint coming from the French manufacturer earlier in the year over the 2014 powertrain programme, however, it may be that the engine mapping systems which control the torque and manage the ERS will be the dominant technology for next year. If so, Renault have proven in conjunction with Newey to be masterful in this area of powertrain development.
On the 28th of January, expect to see a number of the engine manufacturer’s representatives, stood just off the pit lane exit at turn 1 in Jerez, recording the sounds of their competitor engines.
Bernie’s F1 historic starting grid
Bernie’s current trial is expected to last several weeks – even possibly into the New Year. When this trial has finished, one awaits him in New York, maybe one in Munich and another in Switzerland. Suffice to say, he will have a lot of time on his hands.
Besides having to work out when to step out of a revolving door, Bernie has dreamed up his dream historic F1 starting grid and interestingly places Nigel Mansell on pole position.
1 Nigel Mansell
2 Ayrton Senna
3 Michael Schumacher
4 Sebastian Vettel
5 Jochen Rindt
6 Ronnie Peterson
7 Alain Prost
8 Alan Jones
9 Jackie Stewart
10th Niki Lauda
11th James Hunt
12th Graham Hill
13th Juan Manuel Fangio
14th Nelson Piquet
Interestingly there are only 14 drivers on Ecclestone’s ideal list. This of course means he has less to pay out in prize money
Lewis has time off
Nope, not burning the midnight oil in the simulator, or visiting the Pirelli factory and not studying his team mates telelmetry. Lewis has been trying to get vidoe online for a couple of days now. He hs finally mastered the technical wizardry involved and can tweet links to his you tube account. Here’s todays offering.
‘Spygate’ convict speaks up for the first time
Interesting on a news day like today, a figure at the centre of the ‘spygate’ scandal rears his head. Former Ferrari engineer, Nigel Stepney, was eventually sentenced to a year and 8 months in prison by the Italian courts for his part in the affair.
Spy-gate” saw Stepney – former head of development at Ferrari – pass a 780-page technical document to former McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan in the scandal. He was also accused of sabotaging Kimi Raikkonen’s car at the Monaco GP.
Ferrari claimed Stepney put white powder in the fuel tanks of the Ferrari F1 cars that were due to go to the Monaco Grand Prix on May 27. Stepney denied this and said he was being framed.
The story began back in 2006 when Ferrari made Mike Coughlan an offer to join the team in Maranello. Coughlin had just agreed a new deal with McLaren to run from 2007 to 2009. Later it became clear that Coughlin was at the same time talking to Toyota, and of course senior staff in possession of another team’s highly confidential data can be a useful bargaining tool.
Around the same time, Nigel Stepney was becoming very disaffected at Ferrari, as he was not happy with the new management structure since Ross Brawn’s decision to leave the Italian team.
In his first ‘tell all’ to Racecar Engineering, Stepney today accuses his former employer of breaching the regulations. He claims for the season opener in Australia, Ferrari fielded a car with an illegal flexible component on the splitter as well as a rear wing which also breached regulations.
This ‘flexible floor’ concept is similar to the theory Gary Anderson devised recently about the RB9.
Coughlin passed on this information to Ron Dennis, who interestingly rather than challenge the result of the Ferrari win in Melbourne, asked for clarification on the matter with the FIA.
Stepney claims he was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with what he was being asked to do by Ferrari, and that they were acting beyond acceptable limits.
He subsequently passed a dossier to Coughlin and Ferrari got wind of this. They gained a legal injunction which meant the subsequent search found the file at the home of Coughlin.
The rest is history.
Stepney interestingly now claims the FIA tried to recruit him as a poacher turned gamekeeper, but he refused. “I have the letter with the job offer from the FIA…but I refused”.
The ultimate rule to which teams adhere, is the rule that in fact is framed as a question. “Will what we do pass FIA scrutineering tests?”
This is why TJ13 campaigns from time to time for infinitely better resources to be provided by the FIA for regulation enforcement. The current scrutineering is amateur and laughable… a la the bloke from Force India with his Nikon and long lens.
Alonso cryptic message
Fernando has broken his silence and tweeted a cryptic picture message with a wink
Walker, Texas Ranger is an American television action crime drama series inspired by the film Lone Wolf McQuade starring Chuck Norris.
Norris is a member of the Texas Ranger Division and the show developed a huge following, running for 8 full seasons and broadcast in over 100 countries.
The show was known for its moral values. For example, the characters refrained from the use of drugs, and they participated in community service. Martial arts were displayed prominently as the primary tool of law enforcement and occasionally as a tool for Walker and company to reach out to the community. The show has since become one of the most popular action shows in television history and has gained a cult following for its camp appeal (Wiki).
Time for some TJ13 reader input. What does Alonso mean?
Senna’s last victory
20 years ago today was Senna’s last victory…..