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Sirotkin set for 2014
Sergey Sirotkin is entered for the first 2 of the 3 days of Formula Renault 3.5 World Series testing. Interestingly, he will be in a car provided by Fortec Motorsports who were runners this year to DAMS – the team Kevin Megnussen won the drivers’ title with.
The team Sirotkin drove for in 2013 – ISR – appear to have a last minute vacancy as one of their cars has no driver named for the first 2 days. Sergey returns to test with them on Friday.
Renault 3.5 series testing begins today and runs for 3 days ending on Friday.
Why is Sirotkin testing at this level at all? McLaren pulled Magnussen from the long planned GP2 test a week before he was announced as replacing Perez in Formula 1.
It all seems rather pointless for a driver about to get his superlicense.
ForTec are a well established team in this series having recruited drivers in recent years such as John Lancaster, Alexander Rossi, Robin Frijns and of course this year Stoffel Vandoorne. It looks as though the decision has been made for Sergey to compete for another year at this level and with a team where he can be benchmarked properly.
Driver Dithering Mallya at it again
Force India were the laughing stock of F1 as they dithered and refused to announce driver line-ups until just before the 3rd winter test in Barcelona. Once confirmed, Adrian Sutil was offered the opportunity to get just 2 days testing on the Friday and Saturday at the circuit de Catalunya.
Vijay Mallya has spoken today and it appears he intends for no good reason to bugger around with his drivers once again. He tells ESPN, “Everybody knows I make the decision at the last minute – well not the last minute – I make the decision after the Force India Christmas party which means in December,” says Mallaya. “I see no reason to change it. Yes, I have received approaches from other drivers but they all know that decision time will be in December.
I would like to think and believe that the Force India race seat is a very desirable seat, it’s not just a seat for the sake of having a seat. So I am not surprised that people have come to me.”
The problem is this year the situation is a little different. There are 2 drivers available who have some serious money behind them – Maldonado and Perez. Neither driver is a complete donkey and surely would be worth a punt in a Force India car?
Nico Hulkneberg has been strongly linked with Di Resta’s seat in the past week, though if Quantum deliver, then he is likely to become a driver for Lotus.
This would leave Maldonado and Perez battling for a Sauber and Force India drive. One has more cash and the other is probably a better driver. Why wouldn’t a team boss want to decide which he prefers rather than take what’s left once Sauber have done their deal?
Sutil was very confident last weekend that he would be a Force India driver in 2014, and Mallya admitted he is likely to stay. “Adrian is a good driver. There must be some good enough reason why they brought him back, isn’t there? I rate him highly.”
It may come as a great shock to some TJ13 readers, but Vijay Mallya is probably lying through his teeth. Either, Hulkenberg is in the bag for Force India, or they are waiting to see who comes their way should Lotus get their investment.
Mallya gives no reason for procrastinating over driver decisions arguing it is just the way he does things. “Everybody knows I make the decision at the last minute…. I see no reason to change it”
The reasoning behind this statement is laughable and worse still it is just cruel for a driver like Di Resta. Yes he is dour, unreasonable and has failed to take responsibility for his own faults – along with being Scottish ( 😉 ).
However, he has been with the team for 3 years but is likely to be dumped on his a$%e in January with little time and less options to find a drive in another team and/or another racing series.
A lot to play for in Interlagos
I remember the shock of seeing Vettel rolling backwards out of turn 4 on lap 1. Everyone watching the 2012 Brazilian GP around me stood up in unison – staring at the screen – cries of Oh my God, laughing, shrieks, cheers, boos and a whole range of high emotions were being expressed. We had yet another season ending cliffhanger of a decider – as in 2008 and 2010.
This year with the major prizes decided, TV audiences will be down and the general interest in Formula 1’s final act for 2013 is unlikely to make national news bulletins.
The unpredictable Brazilian weather though may play its part in giving us something different from the expected Noah’s ark procession of Red Bulls, Lotus, Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren as the top ten contenders.
This forecast brings the hope of surprises, though for some, that is exactly what they don’t want. As the 2012 Alonso/Vettel battle came to its climax, another battle of equal importance to the participants was coming to a head. The fight for 10th place in the constructors’ championship..
Marussia were holding that 10th spot due to Timo Glock’s drive to 12th place in an eventful race in Singapore. Caterham had to finish 11th or better to beat Marussia and both Kovalainen and Petrov battled all race to no avail,
Then, with just 6 laps to go, the Caterham bound Charles Pic made a mistake in his Marussia and Petrov in the Caterham pounced – taking 11th place from him.
Petrov held on and in fact came within around 6 seconds from scoring Caterham’s first ever championship point. 10th place for Caterham in the constructors’ championship is reckoned to have been worth an incremental $30m.
What will the rain bring this year? So far in 2013 there have been no wet races but should it rain it will mitigates Caterham’s power advantage from the Renault engine and maybe this time it will be Marussia that prevail in the battle to come ‘officially’ last – as far as prize money is concerned.
Let’s hope FOM TV remember the teams in green and red during their broadcast.
Rain causing chaos at Interlagos. Who and when?
The role of the rookie F1 reserve driver
Having scrabbled around the driver market and even contacting Michael Schumacher, Lotus settled on Heikki Kovalainen as their stand in driver for Kimi Raikkonen. On the sidelines is Lotus’ rookie test driver, Davide Valsecchi, who was the 2012 GP2 champion.
“From the sporting point of view it’s a tragedy. It makes me angry to have lost the battle with Kovalainen who is not a great champion, not even an active driver; his last results were five years ago,” Valsecchi commented.
“If they had taken Hulkenberg I could have understood, even Maldonado, but this???”
Asked by SKY whether he would continue as a test driver, Davide was candid, “I don’t know to be honest,”
The role of a rookie reserve/test/development driver – call them what you will – has been brought into question since Lotus overlooked Valsecchi.
What do they do? What is the point of having one?
You may think they are useful in the simulator, but having little or no F1 track time is hardly much help when trying to correlate the simulation results with those provided from an F1 car’s track data.
Rookie’s are starry eyed and believe most of what they are told. Attending F1 weekends will of course help them acclimatise and “understand how everything works” – which in turn will of course “help you… young rookie…. when you get your chance to be a regular in our car’s cockpit”.
The reality is that the reserve driver role in many teams has far more to do with PR than learning who is who and what goes on where and when. They are wheeled out at busy sponsor events to assist the main drivers and even do the ‘B’ rated PR events alone.
For the amount the reserve driver is paid, and the sop of a few FP1 sessions, this is good value for the team as they can ‘entertain’ more often and deliver up someone in a team branded racing suit to tickle the fancy of those on corporate hospitality. Many of those who attend these events haven’t got a clue who the team’s race drivers are and meeting a charming Italian in a black and gold race suit ticks all the boxes they require.
Valsecchi has attended every F1 weekend with the team this year but is now rightly disillusioned with his role.
Looking to the future he states, “To be honest I would like to race in some way if I can. On the sports side I am really suffering in this situation… being here and sometimes not being useful. Considering when it’s the right time to use me I missed the chance; they used someone else and that means I was not very useful for the team this year. It didn’t give me so much satisfaction in my personal life, but we never know, we just know that the team had the right to decide.”
The teams don’t half play up to the rookie driver’s aspirations. Here’s what Sauber had to say when they announced Robin Frijns as their test driver for 2013.
“Robin Frijns is one of the most talented drivers in international motor sport. The Dutchman laid the foundations for his career at the tender age of eight, when he lined up for his first karting race. His sights were already set on a clear goal: to make it into Formula One…. Now the time has come to prove himself in Formula One, initially as a test driver”.
In September this year, Sauber told Frijns he would be released from his contract with the team.
Of course doing PR is part of an F1 driver’s lot, but come on – wise up people – being appointed as a non-racing test driver is no guarantee of an eventual F1 drive.
Despite McLaren’s apparent poor treatment of Perez, at least their young ‘reserve’ drivers were competing in Renault World Series 3.5, and Magnussen doesn’t have to do a year going to F1 events to “understand how everything works”.
Davide Velsecchi never had a prayer of getting into Kimi’s seat whatever Lotus and Boullier said – and the Michael Schumacher publicity clearly demonstrates this to be true.
Lotus to beat Ferrari to 3rd
Ferrari returned from the summer break not in bad shape. They scored 80 points from the first 3 grand prix at an average of 26.7 pts per race, though since Singapore the tale is quite different. Scoring just 49 points from Korea to Abu Dhabi at 12.25 pts per race opened the door for Lotus and to catch them in the constructors’ championship.
In the 4 races prior to the USGP Lotus scored 91 points at a rate of 22.75 pts per race. So when Kimi became ill and with just 2 races left, the gap between Ferrari and Lotus was 26 points.
Had both teams continued to score at the average rates seen for the races Kore, Japan, India and Abu Dhabi – the Enstone team would have fallen short by 5 points from beating Ferrari to 3rd place in the WCC.
Despite searching high and low for a driver to assist Grosjean close the 26 point gap, Heikki bombed in Austin with nil points. This meant Grosjean’s valiant second would only deliver a net 8 point gain on Ferrari with just one race to go.
The gap is now 18 points, so what needs to happen for Lotus to relegate the red team to only their 2nd fourth position in 20 years?
The answer is simple – score 19 points more than Ferrari. It would appear the most reasonable scenario by which this could happen is something like this.
If we take Alonso’s form, we can see regardless of what useless equipment is placed beneath him, he is good for a 5th or 6th place on race day.
So were Alonso to finish 6th and score 8 points, Lotus as a team would require Grosjean to deliver his best – which could only be 2nd to Vettel – and Heikki would have to finish 5th with Massa failing to score.
This kind of scenario – give or take a place here or there – sets out the realistic challenge for Caterham’s reserve driver. Pretty monumental.
Though Lotus’ most likely ‘best’ opportunity to beat Ferrari is if Alonso is taken out, Massa turns the race into an endurance farewell canter and Romain beats Webber to 2nd place. EVEN THEN, Heikki must score a point.
Mmm…. It could be that Alonso’s defence against Hulkenberg with 1 lap to go in Austin was the most valuable extra 2 points he scores all year.
The Sao Paulo circuit on which the Brazilian GP is held is actually called Autódromo José Carlos Pace. It was renamed from Interlagos following the death in a 1977 plane crash of a Brazilian Formula 1 driver by the name of Carlos Pace.
For some reason the renaming didn’t really catch on and the Autodromo is commonly referred to still as Interlagos.
There has been some sabre rattling from Ecclestone and FOM over the future of F1 racing at Interlagos, to the point of threatening the Mayor of the city with the race contract being awarded to Rio de Janero.
Mayor Haddad of Sao Paulo, appeared to be the master of procrastination as the debate over which came first – the chicken (circuit revamp) or the egg (new contract) – was banded around.
During the Bahrain GP this year, Ecclestone declared, “I’ve just received a letter from the mayor [of Sau Paulo] and he’s guaranteed to revamp the whole facilities there, which will be good, we’ve been waiting long enough.”
The Brazilian Lance also reported Mayor Hadad’s confirmation of this matter. “In May, we will conclude the contract so that Formula One stays here until 2020. We just need to go through the paperwork. It was a long discussion, it’s just that we could not commit to something that we could not do.
It is a big job. We require a long-term contract, because we will invest more than $100 million and we could not do that without the security (of a contract).
The new agreement runs until 2020.
The FIA announces that in the meantime there have been a couple of modifications to the circuit for this years race. New debris fences have been installed on both sides of the track between Turns Three and Four. More grandiose is the fact that race control has been renovated with new high definition camera feeds and ‘other enhancements’.
So if we have another yellow flag dispute, hopefully it will take less than 5 days for Charlie and his brigade to respond.
As with many circuits an additional DRS zone has been added for this years race. This is called ‘Zone Two’ and has its detection point 30m after Turn 13 and activation 60m before Turn 15.
Last years DRS zone has been modified. The detection point remains at the apex of turn 2, though the activation point has been altered. In 2012, DRS could be activated 133m before the exit of turn 3 – this zone is now reduced as the activation point is 20m after turn 3.
This is presumably to correct something Charlie Whiting was trying to avoid last year. Speaking about the DRS Zone he commented, “There will be one DRS zone on the back straight. We think this will be enough, as the main straight usually gives a good enough opportunity to overtake anyway, so we don’t want to make it too easy.”
F1 calendar 2014
Ecclestone inferred in court last week, that he’s just signed a $600m contract for a new F1 venue to come on stream. As TJ13 commented at the time, this is likely to include the cost of a new complex based upon recent the value of the contracts awarded to Korea and India.
Yet whoever this is will not be participating in 2014. In fact after all the hullabaloo over a 22 race season, as we predicted it would most likely remain at 19. It is common knowledge India is ‘taking a year out’ and we now can see Korea has finally extracted itself from the embarrassment that is the Korean GP.
New Jersey – as TJ13 predicted in our series of reports in May – has been put back again, so Austria and Russia are the new kids on the block.March 16 Australia 30 Malaysia April 6 Bahrain 20 China May 11 Spain 25 Monaco June 8 Canada 22 Austria July 6 GB 20 Germany 27 Hungary August 24 Belgium September 7 Italy 21 Singapore October 5 Japan 12 Russia 26 USA November 2 Brazil 16 Abu Dhabi
promise cash has prized away Brazil’s privilege of hosting the final race of the season but some of the scheduling remains rather strange.
Why Australia is a stand alone race – God only knows. It’s the other side of the planet from where the teams are based, so they travel out 17,000km to Australiab – back 17,000 miles to Europe. Then a few days later retrace their steps for some 11,000 of the 17,000km they’ve just travelled – BARMY!
China which is some 8,000km from Europe is now a stand alone race, then the usual European schedule (including Canada) resumes.
The final 7 flyaway races now only have 2 back to back events instead of 3 and then there will be a break before we all head of to Abu Dhabi for a gripping season’s finale.
In fact the total number of back to back races is half that of 2013 which begs the question, is this deliberate?
What was that saying about enough monkeys + enough time = complete works of Shakespeare. MOST BELIEVABLE.
Possible adverts with F1 stars
This got me thinking. 16 years after the infamous bite in the boxing ring, footlocker have utilised Mike ‘bad boy’ Tysons misdemeanour in a humorous advert. Which F1 events/personalities that at the time shocked the F1 world could be used for a contemporary advert? (Yes news is slow)
Today the young Russian who has been driving in the 3500 cc category all year was promoted to the ForTec team for the first days testing in Aragon. In the sister car was a young Brit by the name of Oliver Rowland. Oliver has been racing in the Renault Eurocup 2000 cc category this year, coming a creditable 2nd in the drivers’ championship after 14 races.
The very reason Magnussen was withdrawn from GP2 testing – because he would have been pitched against drivers from that series who were familiar with the cars – should mean that Sirotkin would dominate young Oliver.
This was not the case. Sirotkin completed 79 laps in the day and was 5th quickest overall with a time of 1:40:322. His rookie team mate Olicer Rowland covered 85 laps and was in the day with a best time of 1:40:022 – 0.3 seconds quicker.
Whether Sirotkin was poor or Rowland was excellent matters not. Of course 1 days testing is not the whole story, so we await the ‘morrow to see what happens 2nd time out.
Yet as reported above, Sergey’s big F1 dreams for 2014 look to be in tatters – and for Sauber’s sake, hopefully so.