Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 19th November 2013

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Something needs to change – Gravel Traps

Useless Pub Quiz Ammo – Austin Edition

Rule Changes

Motorsport Total prepares for 2014

Formula E to connect with Facebook generation

2014 tyres available for Brazil Friday practice

Webber reflections

Paul DiResta to take the seat of his cousin?

For Sale: Mildly used championship winning car

Something needs to change – Gravel Traps

As TJ has alluded to many time before in his musings over the modern F1 circuits, the gravel traps at the Tilke designed circuits do not do F1 any favors at all.  The picture I have inserted below shows the run off area at turn 15 of the Circuit of the Americas.


Apart from the Pirelli advertising, the extra tarmac serves absolutely no purpose.  So why not have this as a gravel trap instead so that it punishes the drivers who end up there, instead of being so forgiving.  Romain Grosjean had an almighty off in the 2012 edition of the race which would have caused his car to become beached had it not been for so much run off.  Allowing him to carry on means no consequence for pushing too hard.

Furthermore, had he been beached there it would almost certainly have resulted in a safety car which would have added an element of uncertainty to the race – something the 2013 edition was lacking, as Vettel cruised away into the Texan sunset to victory.

Formula One is supposed to be the highest level of motorsport in the world, so drivers need to be tested at all times.  With more of the Tilke dromes entering the calendar, we are set to see more of the overly forgiving tracks on our TV screens.  Something needs to change with circuit designs, otherwise they could soon start molding into one like Abu Dhabi.  The last thing the calendar needs is another Yas Marina.

Useless Pub Quiz Ammo – Austin Edition

Austin provides more statistics and facts that you can use to impress your mates down at the pub, once you have enough Glysantin in the system:

  • His 4th place finish meant that Lewis Hamilton finished a race on US American soil for the first time without being part of the podium ceremony afterwards.
  • Austin was the first ever race for Romain Grosjean without a world champion as a team mate
  • At 8 wins in a row, Sebastian Vettel took the record off Alberto Ascari, which had stood for over 60 years. Ascari is often credited with 9 wins in a row, but after his 7th straight win in the 1953 Argentinian GP was the Indy 500, which back then still counted towards the F1 world championship and Ascari didn’t run it. He won two more races after it, though, but even that record is in danger of being tied if Vettel doesn’t somehow crash out of the Brazilian GP.
  • At 12 for Vettel and two for Nico Rosberg, German drivers have won 14 out of 18 races this year. Fernando Alonso made sure that with Spain at least one other nation got more than a solitary victory this season. One each went to Finnland and her Majesty’s Empire so far.
  • Having won at Austin, Hungary became the last country that Vettel has run but hasn’t won a GP at. Of the 24 tracks he ever started a race at he won at 20. Fuji, Hungaroring, Hockenheim and Indianapolis still elude him. His buddy and idol Schumacher has won at 23 out of 34 tracks he raced at. With Bernard E. – knight of the short stature – adding more and more new tracks in new countries, Vettel even threatens to break Schumacher’s record of having run at over 30 different tracks in his career.
  • If Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg don’t outscore Vettel by at least 25 points at Interlagos, the man from Heppenheim will end up with more points than the second placed team in the constructors championship.
  • Having had a rather disastrous race, Heikki Kovalainen extended his streak of pointless races to an incredible 61. Luca Badoer would be proud.

Rule Changes

For next season the amount of fuel that can be used in a race is limited to 100kg. Meanwhile, the batteries for the Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) must weigh between 20 and 25kg and be contained in single pack (not split, as Red Bull have done in recent years – upper drawing). This means it will be necessary to place the battery pack inside the fuel cell (red arrow, right). Also shown here are the exhaust tailpipes (red arrow, centre left), which must extend at least 170 to 185mm behind the rear axle line (and have a single exit).

Another difference for 2014 is that the rear wing can no longer include a lower, beam wing. This means that vertical pillars (red arrow, left) will once more be used to fix the rear wing to the car (Formula1.com)


Motorsport Total prepares for 2014
by Danilo Schöneberg

Some of you might have noticed that in recent weeks close to race weekends the news were posted by me rather than his honour, the judge himself. The reason for that is rather simple. While the fat hippo is usually at home, the honourable judge is at the scene of the crime, so once in while I take over this duty and considering the complaints, which top the comment charts, I think I’m doing well 😉

We’ve had several periods this year, when news were hard to come by. With every race being won by the same guy and the whole opposition waving the white flag, there seemed to be a reign of apathy in the paddock at times. During those times a plucky little German magazine by the name of Motorsport Total was a faithful source of news. Their site can be a harrowing experience if your browser isn’t equipped with a popup blocker, but they’re very quick with news and don’t block you after like 20 times looking at them in a month.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the folks at motorsport-total.de, who provided us with fresh material in times of drought. In preparation of the next season, they currently run a survey. It isn’t your garden variety ‘Tell us how great we are’ survey. They actually ask for real criticism, so if you happen to be fluent in German, please tell ’em what you think 🙂

Motorsport-Total.de Survey


Formula E to connect with Facebook generation

Speaking at a technology fair in Barcelona, Alejandro Agag, the chief executive of the new racing series believes the new electric racing car series will speak to the Facebook generation in a way that petrol-burning racing cars no longer can.

The argument is simple. Kids used to grow up dreaming of buying a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Jaguar but now they carve the latest iPad.

The combination of the shorter event, the urban setting of the races combined with interactive features such as online voting for which driver will be given a bonus push-to-pass power boost, Agag believes will be much more relevant to young people.

At the same event, ex-F1 driver Lucas di Grassi, enthuses about the new cars. He states that the electric powertrain gives a far more immediate response than any petrol engine. Di Grassi likens the difference between a Formula E car and a petrol-powered racing car similar to the dissimilarity between a normally aspirated petrol car and an old-fashioned lag-prone turbo engine.

Where Formula E should be smart, is by providing a revolutionary digital interface broadcast of the races, which makes the current SKY F1 efforts look like old hat.

It isn’t immediately obvious how online voting in itself will create the stir with the target audience Agag suggests. Yet were Formula E to really think outside the box and say deliver some simultaneous gaming platform during the race – then the reality of the ‘Facebook generation’ revolution which is hoped for – be more believable.


2014 tyres available for Brazil Friday practice

Pirelli will be providing all eleven F1 teams the latest-specification 2014 prototype tyres. The Italian tyre manufacturer is keen to give the early 2014 designs a run even though the V8 engines are still in use.

Each car will have two sets of next year’s tyres with the 2014 construction and profile on a nominally rated at present – medium compound. They are available for the team’s to use in FP1 and FP2, under the current regulations.

It will be interesting to see which teams bother to assist Pirelli and which teams do not run the 2014 prototypes – preferring to use every run setting up the car for the race on Sunday.

For those fans of one stop races, the Interlagos weekend will see the teams run on the Pirelli dry weather hard and medium compounds – as last time out in Austin.


Webber reflections

Once accused of being a closet ‘lover’ of Mark Webber, I was outed this year for all to see 😉

Anyway, it’s time to write a few last Webber biased stories and memories.

It was fantastic to see Mark beat Vettel in qualifying – sector’s 1 & 2 anyway – and had he not f%^&$d up the last corner… as he admitted later in the paddock…. he would have claimed pole position in Austin.

The thing most F1 fans will remember @aussiegrit for is his straight talking and at times colourful language. But hey… If Vettel is already a true great, then Webber is indeed a very quick F1 driver too.

There are times over the past 4 years when he has been very close to Sebastian and as the young German admitted this past week, the Aussie’s competitiveness has helped to push Vettel to higher planes of performance.

Yet the dream F1 driver pairing could have been all over before Vettel won his first WDC. Back in early 2010 Webber admitted that if the previous year’s RB5 had been woeful, he would probably have retired at the end of 2009.

The RB5 in fact overcame the curse of the double diffuser designs early in the season and delivered a Red Bull 1-2 at the 3rd round of the championship in Shanghai. Webber finally broke his curse and won 2 races that year – the first in Germany and the other in Brazil.

Speaking to “The Australian” before the beginning of the 2010 season, he was candid over how close he came to considering retirement. “I don’t know. If we had a total shit box (of a car) last year…. Maybe.”

2009 had begun in a tough manner for the Aussie, following him breaking his leg in his own charity event in Tasmania. On a remote road just after lunch, Webber collided head on with a car and was airlifted to hospital.

He later reflected, “It was a very tough start to the year for me mentally with the accident and if that was coupled with a tough season result-wise, it might have been enough to put water on the flames, but fortunately, it was enough to put petrol on it.”

“Two or three years ago, I wasn’t particularly enjoying it a huge amount and I wasn’t a million miles away (from retirement) then. You have to be enjoying it and you have to be motivated. That fire has to keep going.

“Last year was very, very important in terms of the outlook on my whole career,” he added, “The fire is burning now, I am getting up each day and I care and I am taking responsibility for myself.”

Later that year Webber led Vettel in the WDC as the lights went out in Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season.


Paul DiResta to take the seat of his cousin?

With the second Lotus seat likely to be filled with Venezolan dollars, the opportunities for Nico Hülkenberg look rather limited, Motorsport Total reports. A return to Force India looks increasingly possible, which would make life difficult for 2010 DTM champion Paul di Resta. His team mate Adrian Sutil is more or less confirmed for next season. Not only has he got a long history with the team (7 years) since its former incarnations Midland and Spyker, he also has Medion sponsor coins and no history of publicly slagging off the team in his favour. Should Sauber be unable to convince Nico to stay or Lotus stop drooling over south american petrol cash, Force India could end up fielding an all-German lineup in 2014.

That of course would leave Paul out on the street and the Scotsman seems to have considered plan B already. His cousin Dario Franchitti was recently forced to abandon his 2014 drive with Chip Ganassi Racing in Indycars, which is akin to a vacancy at McLaren or Ferrari in F1 terms. Ganassi’s team has been one of the top teams in CART and Indycars since 1996, scoring multiple championships and Indy 500 wins with Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti. Other well known winners in Ganassi cars are Kenny Braeck, Bruno Junqueira, Michael Andretti and Dan Wheldon. With such an opportunity of getting his hand on top class machinery, Di Resta even reconsiders his doubts about the dangers of Indycars, which have caused his cousin’s retirement. “To be honest, I didn’t think about it before now,” he’s reported as saying. “I’ve always been sceptical about the safety, but the more I think about it, considering the amount of success he [Frachitti] had, it is a serious opportunity.”

Paul is right in noticing that Franchitti enjoyed a lot of success with 4 series championships and 3 Indy 500 wins for Ganassi and Andretti Autosport, but Indycar and Champcar racing comes at a price. In the last 20 years it has claimed the lives of Jeff Krosnoff, Scott Brayton, Tony Renna, Paul Dana, Greg Moore, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Dan Wheldon. Alex Zanardi lost his legs, Sam Schmidt was paralyzed and Christiano da Matta, Kenny Braeck and now Dario Franchitti suffered career-ending accidents.


For Sale: Mildly used championship winning car

The London auctioneer firm Bonhams announced that on Dec. 1st they’ll have a rather interesting piece on offer. The article in question is 19 years old, answers to the name of ‘Benetton B194’ and is the car in which Michael Schumacher scored four of eight wins to seal his first championship.

The car is perfectly servicable and comes with complete pit equipment and spare parts. On top of that the buyer, who should have a few millions to spare, will get a testing day on the Ascari Race resort.

How about that, Pastor? Didn’t you recently say you wanted championship winning material. Here’s your chance and it would free up a seat for someone, who actually deserves it. No more pesky guys sabotaging your tyre pressures either 😉


114 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Tuesday 19th November 2013

  1. Maybe a pattern of small strokes of tarmac and gravel keep the benefits of both safetywise and reintroduces the desired punishment?

  2. Le sigh …

    Don’t tell me you go for that silly shit, too… The gravel traps weren’t invented to ‘test the drivers’, They are meant to slow down the cars if they go off the track in an attempt to have drivers survive if they clatter into the undergrowth. The gravel trap is supposed to stop cars from smashing into the tyre walls, which are there to avoid impact with the armco, which is there to prevent impact with trees or spectators.
    The problem with gravel is, that if a car goes off sideways, it digs in and rolls. Ask Pedro Diniz or Alex Wurz – they’ll explain it to you. Later it was discovered that rough tarmac is even better than gravel at slowing down cars and they’ll not turn upside down if they’re nerfed off by side impact. That’s why we’re seeing it installed on modern tracks.
    The sponsor logos have nothing to do with it. Melbourne has been proving for years that you can paint a Foster’s logo on gravel just as well. It’s just that with hindsight gravel is the second best solution to slow down an out-of-control car. Rough tarmac has been proven to be better at it.

      • Like what? Catching fences, like in the late 70s? Rough tarmac is the most effective method known at this time, so it’s only logical that it is employed where possible. For driver using it as an extension to the track, there are the stewards to poke him with the ol’ penalty stick. If the stewards are inconsistent, that’s hardly Tilke’s fault.

        • “If the stewards are inconsistent, that’s hardly Tilke’s fault.” <<< you're usually quite the surly bastard, but this is very, very true, and I'm sure you could effectively make the case for the FIA needing permanent, traveling F1 stewards to referee the entire season!

          • “you’re usually quite the surly bastard”

            I take that as a compliment, Joe 😉 Don’t get into an argument with me about your or Armstrong’s history though, it could get nasty :p

        • “I take that as a compliment” <<< good, that's how I meant it.

          Re. the stuff about Lance and/or me, well, those choices ruined my life and left me w/ nothing but a federal criminal record, so I'm not about to try to make a case for it publicly…

          • I know, Joe. I admire you for the guts to be open about it, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still loathe the practice and being open about it afterwards doesn’t make it undone. I could’ve become a competitive cyclist 35 years ago, but refused to take pills (grew up in East Germany) and was subsequently shunned for it, so I’m probably unreasonably bitter about it. My neighbour at the time, Bernd Dittert, did consent to take the pills just a few years earlier. He has now an olympic gold medal hanging in his living room. But I do admit though that I wish for more Joe Papp’s to break the omertá. Maybe this ulcer on cycling’s arse (the ‘juice’, not you 😉 ) would get eradicated in that case.

        • I couldn’t find a reply button on your latest comment to me, so let me just say that I appreciate what you’re saying and have a basic understanding of the negative experience of being a clean athlete “cheated” by doping (and not just dopers). I also understand the frustration of seeing a “cheater” still possess ill-gotten gains, even if just a medal. And even though my sporting sanction included the return of all trophies and prize monies, they could never take from me the memories of those victories, and that creates a unique point of potential bitterness for all the athletes (however few they might’ve been) who did not dope and were defeated by my teammates and me…

          I don’t want to claim that I “feel your pain” … but I do think I can understand very easily where the bitterness comes from…I’ve gotta go back to be right now, but yeah, thanks for being honest w/ me at least and not trying to be overly polite or deferential…cheers JP

    • What do the FIA regulations prescribe? I remember a recent interview w/ Tilke where he said that FIA requirements (safety) significantly influence the designing he can do. Are gravel traps not to be included in new circuit designs?

    • I totally agree with you DS.

      The reality is that for car racing the modern barriers and air fences are so good that the gravel traps should be dispensed with entirely and replaced with tarmac.

      However – as many circuits also host motorcycling events – gravel traps are safer for riders – which is why the are retained.

      • What about grass at the edge of the track, for ten or twenty feet, then tarmac? This would improve the appearance of the track also.

        • i think grass would make for dangerously low friction surface in the wet! whereas rough tarmac and even gravel slows down the cars. We really should read up on FIA circuit design guidelines, b/c I know i’m ignorant of the actual facts pertaining to this…

    • I agree but i also disagree. It’s just a fact that in the good old days there was more excitement due to unforseen dnf’s by leaving the track. Why was silverstone this exciting in 2013? Because there where things that gonne wwrong.im looking forward to next year because I think there will be a lot of mechanical failluere. (And grindpenaltys) some of you might disagree but if there is a dogfight and one has to give up with a huge trail of smoke comming from its back(like a honda) then you know machinerie is being pushed to the limit(and over) and thats whats f1 is about. I remember races with 8 or so cars not making it to the end. Not like now 24 start 24 finish. I mean if vettel had a dnf or 3 earlier this year it would be much more exciting. From our point of view

      • And thats why i dont like the kitty litter going extinct. It brought that little extra if a driver got tired or didnt focus enough. Now they run wide, lose 2 sec, and the race goes on.

      • That wouldn’t change a thing. Even with the gravel trap, Vettel would have won. The deadly thing about the man is that he did his last real driving error in the 2012 Brazilian GP when he clattered into Senna. He simply doesn’t make mistakes. Even Schumacher threw it into the wall at times. Except for exploding his car there wasn’t much stopping him this year. That makes for boring viewing, but if he manages the Brazilian GP without a driving snafu, we might see a season in which a driver hasn’t made a single major driving mistake. Add to that that the car in question is the best available and you have a devastating combination.

      • ” … in the good old days …. ”

        I’m sick fed up of hearing this BS 🙁

        Firstly – a lot of them weren’t that good ……

        Secondly – it’s called progress.

        Are you seriously suggesting that we should go back to the GOOD OLD DAYS of drivers dying every year ?

        And there were far more DNF’s due to mechanical failures than off track excursions.

        Or we could lay landmines in the run off areas at all tracks ?

        That would add excitement ……..

        • I also said that I missed the mechanical breakdowns.cars these days are to good, but hey thats my opinion.. and nowhere did i say that i want people to die. I just want driver errors to be punished like they used to be. That made f1 f1. Thats why monaco is so much fun. Anything can go wrong. And it sometimes does. And i have all the respect for f1 drivers and i know its a hard job but f1 is supposed to be the best and hardest motorsport of them all.

    • Totally agree – safety should not be compromised so that we can provide a “penalty” for running off track.

      So: The problem is that drivers can “overcook it”, run off track and rejoin with little or no loss of time (in fact, as we all know, often they run off track deliberately). And yet in places like Monaco, they don’t – simply because the penalty is too great (hit barriers, break car, leave race).

      Surely (surely) the solution is simply this: accurate GPS tracking of the cars with an automatic notification to race control when a car has all 4 wheels over the white line ANYWHERE around the circuit. Drive-through penalty is automatically applied (perhaps unless there is a “crash-avoidance” get-out clause, although I’m not convinced of this). Similarly, any qualifying lap with an off-track excursion just get cancelled. Immediately.

      This can’t be hard to implement. It seems so obvious to me that I must have missed something…..

      • Was going to suggest something similar, although I think really what you would need is a track limit sensor of some kind on the car, and instead of a drive through, maybe a loss of ERS for a lap. Downside is if you are avoiding debris or are forced off track by another driver, you could also find yourself without ERS to compound your misery.

        Really the answer should be similar to golf in that the further off the fairway you are, the worse the rough is and the more likely you are to lose strokes. In a similar fashion perhaps they could have several grades of asphalt that cost more time depending on how badly you muck it up, without compromising the safety of the current designs.

      • You’re right – you missed something Tim. It makes too much sense to be implemented by FIA.

      • “GPS tracking of the cars with an automatic notification to race control when a car has all 4 wheels over the white line”

        Not sure the GPS is that accurate… I could be wrong…

          • Seriously? You think of all the untold numbers of complex electronics components and technology on an F1 car that something as basic and tried and tested as GPS is likely to fail?

        • Perhaps you are right with basic GPS, TJ, but do you think it is beyond the wit or abilities of F1 engineers to deliver accurate enough positioning technology for this?

          That’s not credible.

          • …as with most things…. ‘nothing is beyond the wit or abilities of F1 engineers’ or indeed administrators….

            …the problem is usually a lack of foresight and will

          • The US military have had this accuracy for decades.

            No need for the geniuses ( ha ha ) of F1 to re-invent the wheel !

          • LOL DS 🙂

            But the problem isn’t with the GPS – it’s the guidance mechanisms used on the bombs.

            It’s just a bolt on addition to a dumb bomb – and it isn’t very good …..

            but it is cheap – compared to a dedicated design, especially when you’ve got thousands ( or millions ? ) of dumb bombs lying around.

          • Gps is deliberately inaccurate as it is a military technology that is now being used for civil purposes. So the problem isn’t wether F1 engineers would be able to make it accurate enough, the ability already exists, the question is if they would be allowed to.

        • I think the GPS is accurate enough.

          You just have to look at the Gyrocam used in Moto GP. They send out a reference bike to log the track – then upload that data to the Gyrocam.

          The Safety or Medical car could easily do the same at GP’s.

          Or – as all cars have sensors fitted to detect false starts, which are extremely accurate – mm’s not cm’s – all you’d need to do is lay transmission cabling around the track limits ( where necessary ) – just as they have fitted on the starting grid.

          You know where the sensor is fitted in the chassis – you know the width of the car – QED you know when they’ve exceeded the track limits.

          • Hello everyone, I believe I need to introduce myself as this is basically my first comment (there was a small one before): I’m Ariel and I’ve been following his Honour since about mid season. I’ve learnt a lot from both the blog and the posts and had felt that I had little to contribute but I think I’ll manage 2 posts today.

            This regards GPS: according to the US government (I’m not american, btw, although I will probably sound and write like one) the accuracy for GPS receivers is of about a 1 meter. If you use “augmentation systems” you can achieve a few centimeters (not explicitly defined). The problem is these systems do not have real-time capabilities, outside of the US, at present. F1 would have to create it’s own augmentation system. There are no actual restrictions to civilian receivers although military receivers make use of a secondary signal that compensates for ionospheric degradation of the GPS signal.

            It might be more accurate and cheaper to place sensors on the wheels and along the edge of the track.

          • Hi Ariel – good to hear from you….

            I thought the GPS system wasn’t accurate enough – but thanks for the confirmation…

            …the sensor solution is a better idea….

          • Yep, Ariel is right. The US military dumbs down the GPS system for civilian use; at full usage it’s very accurate.

      • I like it, think a drive through is bit harsh, maybe the rev limit could be lowered for 1 full lap starting when they cross the line or remove the boost off the car for a lap, say 1st time they loose the ability to have the turbo to be spun up early or the KERS part of the power unit disabled, again for 1 lap. This could be triggered by race control (not auto incase of mitigating circumstance) so race control tell the driver they have a penalty next lap and as they cross the timing line the appropriate power is shut down with a signal from race control. This is so it doesn’t just lose power off when the driver is not expecting it. There could easily be track limit sensors fitted to cars if GPS is not sensitive enough. I think that a simply cutting the boost (not the turbo bit just the battery drive) would work great, that would cost around 7 to 10 seconds lap time depending on how good the internal combustion unit is.
        Or no DRS the next time you would be eligable (with a sec of car in front)

        • That’s a reasonable argument. However, I would advocate for more.

          If a driver strays off the track at Monaco: broken suspension, end of race.

          If there was a gravel trap beside the track: car bogged down, end of race.

          Based on that, 20 seconds or so isn’t so harsh. It seems to me that you either DO race on the track or you don’t. Should there be any grey area? Timing is to the thousandth of a second, why should the track be “measured” to the nearest metre or two? Doesn’t seem to make sense to me – particularly as it is applied in such a haphazard way…

      • what do you think of a pressure system like the strips on a bus to signal a stop request? This strip should be located on the outside of every corner. It should be measured so that when the outside tyre is on it, the inside tyre is one the white line of the track boundary. This sends an electric signal to race control and automatic penalty assessed. Not sure if that would be either drive through or 15 second time added. Time added would be immediate and reflected immediately at race end.

    • I’m late to this party, but having read through all comments, and examined the photo, I’ve a couple things that are significantly different from what others have shared here.

      First, I’ll ask a question… Why does The Judge believe the asphalt run-off serves no purpose? As DS points, it’s likely to prevent roll-overs, or worse, if there is a brake failure or stuck throttle event, then it prevents cars from skating across the top of the gravel to spear the barriers and armco. I ask this question because I’m not sure if The Judge’s claim is merely rhetorical, if it is a reasonable claim to make.

      Second, Grosjean’s off at this turn last year was described as ‘almighty’ and it is assumed it was due to overdriving, (as opposed to a mechanical issue, such as brake fade, KERS failure, etc.). Was he overdriving?

      More importantly, when we examine that photo, it appears most likely that there was a penalty suffered by Grosjean if he had a big oops moment off track there. The penalty would’ve likely been 1 to 2 seconds in lap time. What was the actual penalty in time? (A time sheet will show that.)

      Most importantly, if it is true that Grosjean went off because he went in there too hot on that lap, (or a similar driving error there), it is incorrect to assume that he would have beached his car last year if gravel traps were extended, as the Judge proposes, to the track edge. A driver’s calculation of how hard to push the limits at any particular point of a track often accounts for the run-out and run-off areas. If there is no run-off area whatsoever, (a la most of Monaco, for example), a driver accommodates for it by taking fewer risks. If there is a reasonable run-out area like in this turn it enables more courage and experimentation. If there is a gravel trap at the edge of the track, drivers accommodate by taking fewer risks (less courageous creativities!).

      I unfortunately don’t have video of last year’s race, nor the time sheets, nor his post race PR or interviews about the race. But it would be good to better understand the actual problem that the Judge described.

  3. Re. HEIKKI:

    “Having had a rather disastrous race, Heikki Kovalainen extended his streak of pointless races to an incredible 61. Luca Badoer would be proud.”

    I am a fan of Kovalainen, but this unfortunate reminder hits hard…ouch. Of course, the time he spent w/ Caterham didn’t help as they STILL don’t have 1 point, let alone a string of points finishes!!!

    • I know. It wasn’t meant to hurt Heikki fans, more like a reminder how such a decent driver was burnt off in 3-tier teams. Much like Timo Glock. 🙁

    • When Luca Badoer got “the Chance” at Spa 2009 he ended up last crossing the finish, in the same race as Kimi won the race with the same dog of a car. Incidentally in that race Romain Grosjean was a disaster, and amongst other mayhem hit Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren.

      Kovalainens great mistake at McLaren was to accept the “Niceman” role, when Lulu go all the development parts and Heikki received the “petrol laden car strategy”. Also he contracted with an agent, who didn’t know f**k about F1, with disastrous results.

      When latin drivers (bank money, telecom money or petrodollars) complain about the car or how the team has fiddled with tire pressure, Heikki notes as a reason for a not optimal result, a “rusty driver or perhaps technical problems”.

      The ethos is “do not to blame others”.

      • adde, I really enjoyed your comment and have up-voted it accordingly.

        “When latin drivers (bank money, telecom money or petrodollars) complain about the car or how the team has fiddled with tire pressure, Heikki notes as a reason for a not optimal result, a “rusty driver or perhaps technical problems”. The ethos is “do not to blame others”.”

        Yes, it was very, very refreshing – surprising, even – to hear Heikki admit that he is human and may have delivered sub-optimal performance (in the sense, like you said, that he admitted to being rusty).

        “petrol laden car strategy” … lol! THat’s funny! C’mon people, rate adde’s comment up! hehe.

        btw: who was heikki’s agent back then? I figured you could tell me rather than Google…

        • Thank you Joe, but just stating facts… 😉

          Heikki had a known honest man as manager until 2009, when he lost his manager to a “strategy” in Singapore, to which Alonso never was proven to have been in the know. Flavio Briatore received a life time ban (which later was mitigated) and Heikki lost his wily manager.

          Then Heikki did his own managering, which off course is a piece of cake for a young guy from the Finnish beyond behind of Northern Carelia, where you du not do written contracts, but shake hands. When he found out that he was a babe in the woods, he then in early 2012 contracted with a Mega-Agency called IMG, for which this was a breakthrough to F1. They took the tough line in a world they didn’t know and didn’t understand, which led to a breakdown for Heikki and landed him on his ass, without a seat in F1. They didn’t invest, but played a gamble. Thorough contractual work from Heikki’s legal advisor/s, in regard of the management contract might have given him a chance. Now he was signed up by IMG as a wildcard, without any investment from his agent. Obviously that relationship was shortlived.

          Heikki won Schumacher a number of years ago at the Race of the Champions, but Niceman alone in the wolf eats wolf world of F1 has ruined his career.

          • Thanks for the fascinating background, ‘adde’… but my memory suggests that actually on the circuit HK never really lived up to expectations. Back then it was often declared that HK was happier on the golf course than the race track…
            I can see how ‘agency’ problems might not have helped him (and being Mr. Nice might be a disadvantage) but can you really claim that this alone “ruined his career”…?

          • You are right in that he underperformed compared to what was expected. However, my point is not in discussing his merits or demerits as a driver, but to point out how the managers, or a lack of them, and the contracts, not only with the “stables”, but also with the managers, influence the career of a driver.

            Having a manager who would have been able to gather more than paltry sponsorship money after 2009, would at least have landed HK somewhere else than at Lotus/Caterham after McLaren.

          • I agree… all these things can certainly influence anybody’s career. I had a (managing)agent a while back but their only influence was companies preferred to deal with an agent – if I tried to deal myself I was asked if I wasn’t good enough to get an agent…
            When mobile phones arrived I refused to have anything to with them and a company director asked if I wasn’t earning enough to buy one… So I had to buy a mobie just to get my next job…
            I’ve had a lot of laughs in my life… 😉

  4. re rule-changes: If I understand the rear wing bit right, does that mean we’re gonna see rear wings mounted on a central pillar like on early 90s champ cars? I still hope that at least one team does away with the hideous airbox and produces something that looks like a ’93 Lola or Penske champcar. Those things were absolutely beautiful. 🙂

  5. A strip of low friction material around the outside of bends with high friction tarmac run off beyond…job done

    • low friction material would cause pilots to lose control over the vehicle, like wet grass. Why would that help? Unless you want to force DNF’s it wouldn’t make the least bit of sense.

      • I know what he means, though. There should be some kind of surface that incurs more of a penalty for an off-track excursion than just a wider line and slightly dusty tyres. How about ‘rumble strips’, or a tarmac so abrasive that whilst it would stop cars smashing into the barriers it would also shred the tyres enough to incur the penalty of a tyre change.

        • That’s technically infeasible. If the tarmac is abrasive enougth to force a tyre change after 2 laps, it would explode them after 18 laps. We need to keep in mind that drivers don’t take the run-off route entirely voluntary at times. Pastor Maldonado has a bit of a history of squeezing people off the track. Imagine you’re Adrian Sutil and the gorilla from Venezuela nerfs you into the runoff. As a reward you get ruined tyres. Not entirely desirable, is it?

          • That’s what we already have, dobzizzle. It’s not like the tarmac in the run-off areas is smooth as a baby’s arse. It’s rough to slow the cars down if they slide, but can be run without much tyre penalty if you miss the corner. If you were squeezed off, you can rejoin the race without much of a penalty, if you use it to cut the corner and gain an advantage, it’s the steward’s job to penalize you.
            It’s basically the best solution, it just has to be implemented properly.

      • agree. there must be some material technology out there to create very low grip area two car widths wide. this should go one car width from the white line track boundary. then you can have your rough safety Tarmac. this will punish the drivers for being so carefree with corners these days knowing they will just come back to the track without penalty – in fact with advantage sometimes.

  6. Or here’s a novel idea as DS pointed out –

    the stewards impose a penalty for exceeding the track limits ?

  7. Just curious about the batteries a bit, am I the only one thinking that integrating the batteries, which will burn forever without being able to be extinguished (Tesla Model S I’m looking at you), into the fuel cell may not be the brightest of ideas from a safety standpoint. Particularly if you take into account the fact that the fuel cells themselves are flexible and that has been a major improvement in safety in reducing leaks, and apparently the batteries will not be flexible.

    Perhaps there are technologies that mitigate my concerns but I just can’t help feeling that regulations that require design solutions where batteries and fuel tanks are to be part of the same structure should maybe be rethought a bit. At least until they can figure out how to extinguish the batteries in the event of a fire.

    • Good point, they get hot just through being used so if they overheat even without igniting you could get a problem. Hope someone with so good tech knowledge can shine a light on this.

    • Matt – I think the article is badly worded.

      Maybe it should have said in the area where the fuel cell is located – i.e. a separate compartment.

      I guess the author thought that would be the most logical place – near the C of G – low down to help lower the C of G etc.

      However, reading the regs – there’s nothing to stop it being mounted below the gearbox, or in the nose of the car either.

      I guess it all depends on the designers & engineers preferences ….

      • Or maybe RB will mount it in the teatray / splitter – and use the battery as a ” mass damper ” ?


        • But will it flex??? LOL Maybe the RB actually stands for Real Bendy and the case will actually flex when it heats up but will be rigid when tested off the car.

          • ” …. will actually flex when it heats up but will be rigid when tested off the car …… ”

            Well they had a plastic in 1856 that could do that – so ……. 😉

  8. I for one am less bothered than others by this, but Stewards being fair and consistent is the best solution, but realistically we can’t expect them to see every single instance, and also we have clearly seen there is no consistency.

    As has been said already, a circuit of wire on the track extents (that is both sides) and sensors in the centre of each car; one under the front where the suspension meets the the body work and one at the back where the axle is. If the car crosses the buried perimeter wire, then pop- your lap time is invalidated. If it happens during a race, a delta time for the next two sectors/a drive through etc is automatically added pending steward approval… they stewards would be expected to verify, and would basically just look for mitigating circumstances… like being forced off and purely taking avoiding action, to over ride the incident.

    Be a lot cleaner.

  9. With regard to the ‘facebook’ voting thing, it could be prone to manipulation through fake accounts, and many have complained about this, but I actually think that would be harder to do that your standard online vote rigging… still, could be a future point of contention!

    There sure does seem to be a lot of fairly high profile teams and individuals aligning themselves to it!

      • Yes, something like winner of the virtual series gets an actual test in one of the cars should be good for bridging the digital divide.

        • Nissan’s been doing that for years with their GT Academy. It produced some very competitive racers, like Lucas Ordonez. I’m actually currently writing a feature about the whole gaming vs real racing thing.

          • Another winner, Bryan Heitkotter was also a WDC/pro series driver on iRacing at the time as well. It’s interesting how many pro drivers have driven iRacing.. there’s the professional driver annual race coming up on December 12th too. Full grid of pros going at it online!

            A good example of the sim being helpful is how Justin Wilson prepped for an IndyCar race on iRacing with the IndyCar, he then won the real race, haha. Generally it helps with visual cues and processing, but it also depends on how adaptable the driver is (and comfortable with video games).

      • Now that would make one hell of a good idea for interactive tv. I bet everyone would choose to be racing in a Red Bull. But it would keep a lot of F1 racing driver wannabees very happy. Imagine how great it would feel to actually beat one of the professionals!! 🙂

  10. Formula E has been very clear about its targets for next year: they want to connect with a new audience, and not necessarily with the current group of racing enthusiasts of which you and I are part of. I understand that the electric car is ‘the future’ and I was really looking forward to a series that can promote that, but it almost seems like the organizers are so desperate to make this a success, they lower the standards to the lowest common denominator.

    But you have to give the organizers a pad on the back for attracting some prominent racing teams, including what is basically Audi’s factory team. Maybe in the long term, other car manufacturers will join Formula E to promote their electric vehicles (for instance Renault or Nissan). And maybe one day, when the technology has advanced sufficiently, Formula E can become a non-spec series, like Formula 1.

    Then again, that is never going to happen, because the series will probably evolve the way “Facebook generation” wants it to evolve: as spectacular and entertaining as possible, sadly.

    • I thought that although initially entrants will use a spec chassis & powertrain the rules allowed for entrants to design their own in the future ?

      • Yep. first season will be spec, but then all the stops will be pulled. This could be the nail in F1’s coffin actually. Unless of course Adrian Newey moves from red Bull to Andretti or Abt-Audi in which case Formula E will be killed to death by domination of a single team 😉

        • What’s the betting that Audi WON’T use the electric motor / drivetrain that they weren’t allowed to use in their Le Mans / WEC cars this year ?

          • I think they’ll use an evolution of the drivetrain they developed for the e-tron R8. Audi and their parent company VW have quite a history of developing racing technology with alternative fuels and drivetrains. They’ve been running a natural gas powered car in the Nürburgring 24h for years.

          • I have to disagree with you on this DS.

            They already have a race ready design.

            Why use “old” roadcar technology ? The eTron system is designed for a hybrid – not pure electric.

            On the alternative fuel side of things – I think it would be more likely they go down the fuel cell route. They ( VW group ) have had various examples running for years.

          • The etron in the LeMans cars is a hybrid tech, that’s right. But there was a purely electric version of the R8 road going sportscar, but after testing a few prototypes, mum (VW) pulled the plug on the project.

          • DS – eTron in the Le Mans cars is simply name badging to promote Audi’s range of road cars.

            It has nothing in common with the eTron road cars.

            The Le Mans cars use the Williams flywheel kinetic energy storage technology.

            And it’s not even a hybrid in the true sense like the Toyota Le Mans car is – i.e. the engine and electric motors coupled through the same drivetrain.

            The Audi is basically a twin engined car – the flywheel drives the front – the diesel drives the rear.

          • I know, Manky. I’ve worked for both Audi and VW 🙂

            The re-badging is a bit pointless though as the real eTron Audi’s will not be put on sale after VW nixed the project. The reason behind it is rather simple. First of all, all German manufacturers missed the boat on e-Cars. the French, Renault in particular, are miles ahead and with the Clarity, Honda has been the trailblazer for fuel cell technology. VW meanwhile concentrates on bulding super-efficient engines. They sell the 3L Lupo, a car that does more than 60 miles to the gallon. They’ve even built a prototype that did 190 miles to the gallon. VW boss at the time, Ferdinand Piech drove that thing from Hamburg to Wolfsburg on a few pints of petrol.
            A successful e-Car would be nixing all of VW’s efforts to produce those super-efficient engines.

    • Btw. Formula E already is more spectacular than F1 just by the tracks in runs on. Formula E won’t run on Tilke-dromes inj some god-forsaken cow-poo covered part of the countryside. They run bang-smack in the middle of the city. The Berlin race for instance will be held on the disused Tempelhof airfield, which is right in the center of the Hauptstadt. 🙂

        • Yes, I’ve been there. A race at Tempelhof will almost be as spectacular as actually landing there in a plane, which I’ve done, too.

  11. 2014 TYRES

    Yet again we have a total lack of leadership and direction from the Invisible Man.

    Why didn’t the FIA just designate a mandatory practice session to test these tyres ?

    DOH !

    • because it makes too much sense 😉

      There will be a dedicated tyre test in November, though. McLaren provides 2011 cars for it. Unfortunately the current rules don’t allow to run 2013 cars even after the season is over. I think it’s FIA’s job to change that.

    • …because Red Bull have said it isn’t fair if Sebastian’s next record breaking opportunity is compromised by developing tyres?

      ..mind you, Pirelli haven’t yet been confirmed as the 2014 supplier…RB would argue.

      • I meant a mandatory session in addition to the normal FP sessions – not replacing any of them.

        Or the FIA could tell Red Bull – JFDI

      • “…because Red Bull have said it isn’t fair if Sebastian’s next record breaking opportunity is compromised by developing tyres?”

        Any links/facts or is this just a nasty dig 😉 Unlike Teams like Lotus or McLaren, RB already have contributed their alotted 1000km to tyre testing and not even secretly or with uneligable cars 😉

      • I’m sure that if Red Bull don’t have the best car in 2014 (they are overdue a stinker), Horner will be moaning about Mercedes and Ferrari engines (regardless of actual performance compared with Renault) not being legal. My dislike for RedBull stems from the smug attitude of Horner and co. Don’t mind Vettel so much, he’s very much like Alonso in the sullen when not winning stakes.

        As for keeping drivers within track limits ? divert power from the ERS system to give them a polite electric shock on the bum to keep them on track. Just don’t let Bernie anywhere near the control systems….

  12. Never reall thought about it, but that list of indycar fatalitys reads like a list of F1 in the 70ies. Scary, and I didn’t think it would be possible these days with widespresd TV coverage delivering the images of fatal crashes into millions of households.

    • I saw Greg Moore, Jeff Krosnoff and Gonzalo Rodriguez die, live on TV. Indycars in particular are prone to get airborne at high speed. That’s how most of the drivers listed, died. This is what happened to Mario Andretti when he tested one of his son’s cars in 2003:

      • I know and I knew of all the drivers that died and saw most of their crashes. What hit me now that i read the actual list was that I accepted their deaths like the public accepted f1 drivers dying back in the days. Yet every time I read about those killing years I wondered how it was possible that those fatal crashes were considered normal.

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