Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 09 December 2013

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Mercedes working hard (00:01)

Williams headhunt Red Bull and Lotus engineers

Mallya to lose airline

2013 cock ups

Force India and Sutil to go legal?

Someone’s getting ahead of themself

F1 Drivers to get a number for ‘life’

Final Formula E team revealed

Andretti believes in F1 customer cars

More tickets for Austrian GP


Mercedes working hard

One would be forgiven to think that Formula 1 teams and suppliers relax and unwind a bit over the festive period. Perhaps not…

Sources close to TJ13 has suggested that Mercedes may not be as far advanced with their engine as what they have led the public believe. Yes it is running on the dyno and shifts seamlessly through the gears however it appears engineers in the Brixworth factory are burning the midnight oil (apart from the turbo they set alight a couple of weeks ago) in order to complete engine mapping among other things.

Mercedes engineers were VERY surprised to see Ferrari run their engine in the back of a 458 as they themselves are not in a position to do that in the near future.

With Jerez testing due to start in just over a month all may not be well for the Mercedes engined teams after all.

So while teams may build a great chassis it is unlikely that the car will be the deciding factor next year, rather the team who’s engine supplier has built a bullet proof engine will be a force to be reckoned with.

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Williams headhunt Red Bull and Lotus engineers

Whatever F1 fans think of ‘Crashtor’ Maldonado, his $100m plus of Venezuelan oil cash certainly saw the historic British team through some tough times, and helped to mend their finances. In Though in Formula 1, as in any business, they key to being successful is having the right people and Williams have set about rectifying this problem starting with the engagement of Pat Symonds as the team’s Chief Technical Officer.

Symonds replaced Mike Coughlin with immediate effect in July 2013, though both have somewhat of a ‘bad boy’ history in F1. Coughlin was at the heart of the McLaren/Ferrari ‘spygate’ affair which cost him his job and Symonds was the Flavio Briatore’s side kick at Renault when Newton Piquet Jnr was asked to deliberately crash his car in the 2008 Singapore GP.

Piquet Jnr later claimed “in the presence of Mr Briatore, [Symonds] asked me if I would be willing to sacrifice my race for the team by ‘causing a safety car’”. Further, Piquet Jnr revealed this was meticulously planned by Symonds as, “using a map, pointed me to the exact corner of the track where I should crash”, because “it did not have any cranes that would allow a damaged car to be swiftly lifted off the track, nor did it have any side entrances to the track.”

Symonds had been allowed to return to F1 as a consultant Marussia in 2011 before his ban on working full time in F1 expired at the end of 2012. Pat Symonds specialist field is aerodynamics and he is regarded by many in F1 as a gifted leader.

Today, the Williams F1 Team announces they are strengthening the aerodynamics line-up as they head hunt Dave Wheater will join from the Lotus F1 Team to become Head of Aerodynamic Performance. He reports to Head of Aerodynamics Jason Somerville. Also supporting Jason will be Shaun Whitehead, previously of Red Bull Racing, who joins as Head of Aerodynamic Process.

Commenting on the new appointments, Jason Somerville said: “I’m very pleased to have secured the first class talents of Dave and Shaun, both of whom have enviable track records within F1. With the exciting challenges ahead for 2014, I am confident they will both add strength and experience to the team here at Grove.”

Pat Symonds adds, “These two appointments show our commitment to both improving the process of aerodynamic development while focussing on the application of that development to true on-track performance.  Dave and Shaun bring a wealth of experience to our team and I welcome them both to Grove and fully expect them to make significant contributions to the renewed competitiveness that we are all working so hard to achieve. With Dave and Shaun on board, and under Jason’s stewardship, we will be well positioned to make gains in this important area and support the continuing task of developing the FW36 in what promises to be an exciting year for the sport in 2014.”

With Mercedes engines for 2014 (assuming they are ready), Felipe Massa as lead driver and with Symonds at the technical helm, for many the team from Grove may be the dark horse who rise out of the pack to challenge the rest of the mid-field.

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Mallya to lose airline

In these times when Enstone employees go unpaid and Sauber’s finances are being questioned almost daily by the Swiss media, Force India has been a positive rock of financial stability.

The team’s payout in appearance and prize money from FOM this year will be around $70m, which is the cost of building a car and going racing. It appears they will lose around $10m from the sponsors brought by Sutil, but should recoup that and maybe more from Sergio Perez’s backers.

Yet in the autumn of 2012, Vijay Mallya promised the team would see a huge investment, “we have shown that every year we get better, so we expect nothing less next season. But it is also time for us to look at capital investment – the board has recently approved a £ 50 million ($75m) capital investment programme for the team. In order to go up the ladder even further we need to have the tools and the facilities, so we are looking at some investments which will start paying out rich dividends in the future,”

Mallya repeated his annual claim to the FT in March this year that he had plans to build a wind tunnel along with other facility developments – one being a new building close to the gates of Silverstone.

Not a brick has been laid, not even a ground breaking ceremonial sod has been turned over. Why? Maybe a better question is ‘where is the cash?’

The team benefitted in 2011 from the investment from Sahara, though this cash has now been spent. Further, many of the sponsors are companies from the Mallya empire. Kingfisher, Vladivar, White & MacKay and Royal Challenge. However, how much funding these companies will be allowed to provide is uncertain since the sale of Mallya’s United Spirits to Diageo.

The High Court in India has demanded to see details of the deal and stated that it may use Diageo funds to clear the unpaid salaries of Kingfisher Airlines’ employees.

The problem is the web of loan guarantees given across the Mallya group of companies is complex and this has made netting off the debts and assets very difficult.

Kingfisher airlines alone is believed to owe $2.5bn (FT March) and the Diageo deal to acquire 53% of United Spirits only would only deliver $1.92m. 17 Indian banks have loaned Mallya and his businesses some $1.2bn and there has been an understandable reticence amongst this consortium to foreclose on the once ‘King of Good Times’.

Vijay keeps promising ‘ongoing talks with an undisclosed buyer’ for Kingfisher, though these assertions are now 3 years old – and no buyer has come forward. The deadlock has been rumbling on for some time, with Mallya’s airline having been grounded for over a year now.

Yet time is running out. The Indian High Court on Friday accepted a winding up petition for Kingfisher Airlines from Aerotron, a UK-based aviation services firm, who are owed R37 crore, or $6 million.

Aerotron is among several companies that have filed winding-up petitions in the Karnataka High Court though the court has issued a stay on a request by the State Bank of India who wish to take possession of the company headquarters.

Mallya during the company’s annual general meeting in September had claimed again that he was in talks with a foreign investor and a decision on this would be reached in 90 days. The court has granted Vijay just a few more weeks to fulfil his promise and revive the ailing carrier.

Once the winding up process begins, the true extent of Mallya’s empire’s indebtedness will quickly become clear as everyone with a loan guarantee rushes forward to receive some kind of payment.

For now, there is no more talk of wind tunnels or new buildings being discussed by the Force India team’s board. Further, with a guaranteed budget from $80m – plus sponsorship, plus anything Sahara/Mallya can raise – the progression of the team up the constructors’ title standings may now have reached its zenith.

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2013 cock ups

It’s time for the inaugural end of year review of the year’s motor sports disasters. We’ll widen the category from F1 alone, though F1 related ‘fails’ are of course appreciated. I’ll get the ball rolling with the following.

To make a nomination, post a picture or a link to a Youtube video in the comments section – and to vote for your favourite – use the ‘thumbs up’ icon to register your approval.

We will run a proper poll next week, with the best suggestions received.

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Force India and Sutil to go legal?

Vijay Mallya recently claimed the team would make their driver line up announcements following the Force India Christmas party. Of course, Nico Hulkenberg was confirmed 5 days ago but the Christmas party was last weekend.

F1 pundits appeared to agree that Adrian Sutil was adamant in Brazil that he had a deal with Force India for 2014, “I have a contract and am looking forward to another year in Formula 1.” Though Sutil later qualified his position stating, “It’s like with any contract that you have in life, it is not 100 percent sure.”

Force India have not made the post-Christmas party announcement as promised, though this may be down to Mallya’s regular dithering on driver decisions; though it could it be Sutil has gone legal with the Indian ex-billionaire over his contract and no decision can be made at this time.

Mexican Sergio Perez is also widely believed to have a Force India contract for 2014, though either driver could in fact end up at Sauber.

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Someone’s getting ahead of themself

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F1 Drivers to get a number for ‘life’

The Formula One’s Strategy Group, has been busy over the past week or so. They meet again today and on the agenda is the introduction of permanent race numbers – ie a driver would retain the same number throughout his career. 

There appears broad agreement on this from the teams and newly re-elected (splutter) FIA president Jean Todt holds believes this to be a good idea.

“I support this idea very much and think it would be nice if drivers always have the same number, with the exception of world champion who gets the number 1”, Todt tells L’Équipe. “When I watch a Grand Prix, I can see neither the name nor the number of the driver. I know they need the space on the cars for the sponsors, but there are other solutions”. Todt suggests a driver’s number is displayed prominently on the helmet.

The notion that a driver can be associated with a number is nothing new. Mansell was known for his famous Red 5 and Gilles Villeneuve made the number 27, as did Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with the no. 88 in NASCAR.

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In fact the way the numbers are awarded at present only began in 1996. Prior to that each team had designated numbers for their cars and here’s some of the traditional team numbers, 3 & 4 (Tyrrell), 7 & 8 (McLaren), 11 & 12 (Lotus), 25 & 26 (Ligier) and 27 & 28 (Ferrari).

Of course were a driver to move from one team to another, their number would change.

The teams could pretty much pick the numbers as they chose, within reason. Early in F1 history there were some odd exceptions and the same driver or team would not necessarily have the same number from race to race – local rules often prevailed.

The highest ever seen on a car in a world championship event was 136 on Rudolf Krause’s BMW in the 1952 German Grand Prix. At that race, every car in the Grand Prix was numbered 101 or higher. This was because each car in each support race had its own unique number.

The present suggestion would mean F1 drivers could develop their own marketing around their number, though for this reason its unclear why Todt suggests the world champion would have the number one for that year.

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Final Formula E team revealed

Formula E has been trailing it’s launch slowly but surely. Throughout the early part of the year, they were revealing a host venue every few weeks and then this moved onto the 10 team reveals on almost a weekly basis.

With 9 teams declared, including the likes of E.DAMS, Audi, Andretti, Super Aguri and Virgin – today the final team is revealed – and it has been trailed relentlessly by Formula E.

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“Venturi Automobiles today (9 December) announced a joint venture with award-winning actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio to enter a team in the new FIA Formula E Championship – the world’s first fully-electric race series beginning in September 2014.

Based in Monaco, the new Venturi Grand Prix Formula E Team has been co-founded by DiCaprio and Gildo Pallanca Pastor, founder of pioneering EV manufacturer Venturi Automobiles, together with Bert Hedaya and Francesco Costa”.

“The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles,” DiCaprio said. “Venturi Grand Prix has shown tremendous foresight in their decision to create an environmentally friendly racing team, and I am happy to be a part of this effort.”

The team is centred around the award-winning Venturi Automobiles, a leader in high performance electric vehicles developing a range of sports, urban and utilitarian cars, as well as being the current holders of the world land speed record for an electric vehicle with 495kph (307mph). The team also plans to become a constructor from the second season, building its own Formula E car using a powertrain based on the one used in its 3,000hp electric streamliner – Venturi VBB-3 – unveiled earlier this year in Wendover, Utah, by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.

“Venturi has been a pioneer in electric high performance vehicles for more than a decade and Formula E gives us the fantastic opportunity to further improve our advanced technologies through motorsport, as well as compete all over the world,” said Gildo. “It also gives us the chance to be part of a new racing programme with a project that really shares Venturi’s values for clean mobility, innovation in the field of electric propulsion and energy efficiency optimisation.”

“It’s an honour and a pleasure to welcome the Venturi Grand Prix team as the tenth and final team of the FIA Formula E Championship,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO of series promoters Formula E Holdings. “And of course, I want to give a very special welcome to our Championship to Leonardo DiCaprio. Very few environmental leaders have helped more than him to spread the message of sustainability around the world. Having people like him and Richard Branson – global ambassadors for the environment – is a privilege for our Championship and will greatly help us to spread the use of electric cars in cities around the planet.”

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It had all been going so well. Formula E has been getting pretty decent publicity around all the main F1 reporting outlets. However, this reveal is a tortuous effort of celebrity showbiz razzmatazz which Formula E had avoided thus far.

Still – we presumably have the driver reveals coming next which should be fascinating. Expect some very high profile individuals because the FIA have clearly got seriously behind Formula E and are determined it will work.

Jean Todt is optimistic but at the same time commented, “I’m also worried because if the expectations are so high, it could be a disappointment. I’m cautious, “ said Todt. “I think the formula-E drivers are known and very talented, but if a team wants to use a Formula 1 driver for one or two races, why not?”

It’s unlikely that a current F1 driver will do more than an exhibition drive in Formula E, as there are clashes on the calendars, when the two series are racing the same weekend in different parts of the world.

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Andretti believes in F1 customer cars

Despite a rather inept performance whilst hosting the podium interviews at the US GP, Mario Andretti is a Formula 1 legend and remains passionate about motor sport. He is famously quoted as saying, “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” 

Well today, the Formula 1 strategy group return to the topic of customer cars and Andretti is uncompromising with his views. “If you imagine opening it up so that any given team could sell to another; to a privateer – maybe just start with you can only sell it to one – you would have teams like my son Michael’s that would probably enter Formula One”.

Mario is not keen on the ever increasing technical specifications which attempt to restrict the areas of spending open to the F1 teams. “This is a good thing, because I can see that it’s probably going to have to happen because the teams could amortize some costs, obviously, and then it’s win-win. The team that’s coming in doesn’t have to have a $200million investment to compete with Red Bull or Ferrari. To me I would see that’s what is going to evolve.

That’s also what should keep Formula One strong without really deterring the purity of the technical side of it in my opinion. There are better ways to go before it becomes a spec series.”

Yet the F1 commercial rights holders don’t want lots more teams and speaking about the demise of HRT Ecclestone told Reuters he’d go further. “I’d rather have 10. I never wanted 12. It’s just that 10 is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have 10…so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”

However, Ecclestone does believe that customer cars would be a good thing and blames Williams for continually preventing a move forward on this. Speaking in May this year, F1’s supremo stated, “I believe that customer cars will be a good thing. Everybody needs to agree to that but Frank Williams is the one who is against it.”

Yet those who know their F1 history will remember that Sir Frank entered F1 by purchasing a Brabham chassis in 1969 and one of his drivers, Piers Courage, finished in 2nd place twice that year. Williams switched to buying a March chassis in 1971.

It wasn’t until the Williams FW07 in 1979 that Sir Frank and partner Patrick Head actually engineered their own car, though Lotus aerodynamicist Peter Wright felt the FW07 was merely a re-engineered Lotus 79. The children of the FW07 – FW07B and FW07C went on to win the constructors’ title in 1980-81 and the drivers’ title of 1980 with Alan Jones.

However, those were very different times in F1. In 1981, 17 ‘constructors’ entered the championship but the season’s budgets were far more attainable making this number of entrants possible.

Today, it’s monumentally expensive to just develop a car and attend each race. Marussia’s spend in 2011 is believed to be close to $110m.

Whether customer chassis’ would really create more F1 entrants, or reduce the cost of being competitive is for now a moot point.

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More tickets for Austrian GP

The Red Bull Ring is currently applying for an increase in spectator capacity to nearly double the present numbers allowed. Last month, the race promoter put 80,000 tickets up for sale and despite computer problems all were sold within 72 hours.

Tomorrow morning, Tuesday December 10) some more tickets will be on sale at www.gpticketshop.com. The race organiser claims these are cancelled ticket orders from the November sale, but provide no information over the number available.

Interestingly – tickets will be available for all price bands from 95 to 495 euros. The Red Bull Ring have not announced they have now received permission to sell 200,000 tickets for the F1 weekend as they have requested from the relevant authority.

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80 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 09 December 2013

  1. We shall just have to wait and see what Mercedes rolls out in Jerez. I’ll laugh my cotton socks off if Ferrari has produced the best engine….

    • Why?

      Mercedes apparently has 100bhp advantage, what they haven’t told anyone is that it isn’t usable.
      Renault have demonstrated the sound and revealed the design of their engine.
      Ferrari, who has been a constructor since 1948, have said nothing, yet everyone mocks them.

      To this day, I cannot get over how blinded people are because of their hatred of Ferrari or their hatred of Alonso.

      I honestly don’t know the state of play come Jerez, but I do know that the rules in place won’t allow any one manufacturer to gain an advantage before the regulations become frozen.

  2. Pretty sure Merc will have the most powerful unit (hp per liter), however as Renault have aptly demonstrated, being able to apply horsepower out of turns is perhaps more important. Mayhaps the clever boffins realizing they have lost the battle for bigger tires are trying to figure out how to map those extra horses usefully onto the ground ala Renault. Or maybe Ross went fishing before he actually announced he was going fishing, if you know what I mean.

  3. This is how the news is going to read until we hit Jerez, the propaganda stories and “sources revealed” comments.
    1st we hear Renault only have 200 staff on the project ans Merc has 400, then Ferrari and Renault stressing about the amount of fuel, then Ferrari Testing their engine and now Merc are behind……. What! I don’t believe it, if forced I should imagine they could all get their engines into a mule to test it, I expect the other 2 already have but weren’t stupid enough to get it cuaght on a mobile phone! They have been building theses units for over 2 years now and non of the companies involved can afford to look stupid or incompetent so I would imagine these engines are going to surpass our expectations when the get fired up in anger for the 1st time in Melbourne.

    • “They have been building theses units for over 2 years now and non[e] of the companies involved can afford to look stupid or incompetent…”

      Not to pick on you, Clear View, but…hehehehehehe!

    • LOL the amount of stupidity and incompetence at big corporations is remarkably high, they just can afford better PR xD

    • … the point is we do know for a fact that Mercedes are working flat out and are concerned – of that we are certain. We don’t know whether the other 2 manufacturers have the same level of ‘concern’/’paranoia’….

      • I’d assume Renault and Ferrari are also working flat out to get the engines ready for Jerez (working on final fixes and what not). Either Mercedes have screwed up or they are trying to make it look like they don’t know how the engine is going to perform. If it performs badly – damage control. If it performs better than expected – Smug Mercedes. The thing is while the respective engines may perform well on the dyno and in test mules until they are used and abused in an F1 race, I think it would be premature to make any firm conclusions about the engines/powertrains over the winter testing period. I expect we’ll see a few blow up or not perform as expected over the course of the tests. Also I would guess if Ferrari and Renault do have any concerns they will be keeping quiet about it.

        Though tbh I think the biggest issue will be fuel consumption, and that will be in the hands of the drivers.

        • “Kimi wins in Melbourne again. Alonso second, Vettel third.. Mercedes blown up from 3rd in the first 10 laps”.. followed by Kimi not winning for the rest of the year and it being between Vettel and Alonso, with Hamilton not quite close enough once more. Rinse and repeat..

      • “We don’t know whether the other 2 manufacturers have the same level of ‘concern’…”

        Given the engineering challenge of this project, (fuel efficiency, cooling, electrical systems integration, packaging, reliability, etc.), it’s a very safe assumption that Renault and Ferrari are working flat out too.

        Peter Windsor travelled with some Renault Sport F1 engineers from the states to Brazil a couple of weeks ago, and reported that they all confirmed that they will be flat out at Viry-Châtillon (no extra days off at Christmas, etc), through the winter.

        What was most interesting about Mercedes’ turbo fire at Brixworth was the time of the fire… it was close to 10PM.

    • ” …I expect the other 2 already have but weren’t stupid enough to get it caught on a mobile phone!”

      You don’t actually believe that was a random phone video… do you? Seems to me more likely propaganda video leaked to one-up Renault and Mercedes, to be sure!

      • It did have that feeling about it to be honest, it’s not the best recoding but it’s not at the low level you would expect if it had been a spur of the moment recording on an average phone. So I do see where you’re comming from.

        As I also said in my earlier comment was that there will be loads of propaganda stories and articles that say stuff like “sources revealed” and “according to a team insider”.
        Its ‘Silly Season – winter edition’ and once the tests start, the level of propaganda will increase steadily right up to the Australian GP weekend. Even then we won’t have a decent idea of who is where really until 6 or 8 races in, possibly not getting a really clear picture until the summer. I for 1 can’t wait, it’s the sience of F1 I like (but by no means an expert) and the winning driver is a byproduct of which team applied there science in the most usable way for the drivers skills. I see the constructors title as the really important title and the drivers title is to fuel the celebrity side of the sport and allow people to feel personally connected with F1 through their favorite driver. To me people like Brawn, Newey, Williams to name q few are the real heros of F1, because without people like them and the drivers would not be able to do what they do in the quality of machinery they do it in.

      • I thought much the same. The video clip is rock steady and the camera/mobie was presumably on a tripod/support of some kind. It was not someone hiding behind a straw bale and hand-holding a camera… as the picture seems to suggest. As the tripod would not have been very inconspicuous I suspect it was not a secret shot…

      • Pretty sure it’s not a disguised 458. Things like the windscreen to front axel position are different. That’s not an easy thing to change. Thus I’d conlcude the car used isn’t a 458.

  4. One of the first instances of intense speculation about engines was when Hamilton’s move to Mercedes became known. A lot of people started to take it effectively for granted that the 2014 Mercedes car and the engine will be the fastest on the grid, and so this is how Hamilton signing with Merc was explained. I never believed in that hypothesis. Personally I never believed in any engine related rumors. Not a year ago and not now. We’re going to see how they stack up after the first few races.

  5. I love this time of year where speculation is rife! This time last year everyone was saying how McLaren, with their better designed car, were going to take the battle to Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton was going to be tootling around at the back of the grid in yet another Mercedes shed. I fear that all this worry about unreliability will be unfounded and that the manufacturers will have done an incredible job and the year will be another procession. But, and this is why I love it, I KNOW nothing, until we get to the first race of the year.

  6. Love the speculation about engines, it’s all very interesting. One thing I don’t really get with F1 though is that F1 has a resource restriction, but quite clearly this doesn’t include Engine development if Mercedes have twice the number of staff working on their engine – sorry, Powertrain – as Reanult.

    Seems to make a bit of a bloody mockery of the whole resource restriction idea, and makes an already pretty unlevel playing field (with differing budgets etc) even more unlevel. Rumours are rife that Merc are ploughing in more money than any other team for 2014 – with the engine development on top they’re going to end up like the Man City/PSG of F1.

    • Merc that makes the engines not the same as the AMG Petronas team. They will also sell the engines to other teams which is why the RRA doesn’t apply, I think.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but in the champions league man city is a bit shitty. Money doesn’t buy everything. (Although they have one of the best defenders in the world, but that’s an other topic 😊)

    • So if Red Bull are Chelsea, and Mercedes Man City, does that make Ferrari Man Utd, McLaren Liverpool, Williams Newcastle Utd, Lotus Arsenal, Force India Everton, Sauber Southampton? Toro Rosso Aston Villa! Marussia Hull and Caterham Cardiff. Quite a few could be Spurs at one point or another haha.

      • … Man United are more like Williams at present – better than the very worst teams around, but all the decent mid and top table teams are ahead of them…. 😉

        Oh joy… nice legacy Sir Alex!

        • If where on the toppic of football anyway.. why doesn’t moyes play fellaini as the attacking midfielder he is (and was under moyes at Everton)? Maybe they do a little better.

          • Might be cause Moyes isn’t as good as people thought. Or the player isn’t as good as people thought.

            Or maybe a bit of column a and a bit of column b

  7. There are so many unknowns and conflicting opinions. Merc say engines will not be the dominant factor. Others say they will. Whitmarsh believes Merc are ’14 favourites. Others believe RBR might just stay on top…again.

    There’s only one thing certain. With aero, tyres and engine changes, dominance will ebb and flow amongst teams for the best part of the first half of the season. I can’t see any one team coming up with the magic bullet as Brawn/RBR did back in 2009.

    The most consistent team and driver will take the crown next year.

  8. I think SFi could be doing the right thing not investing in the wind tunnel right now anyway. A move back towards in season testing will skew how the teams operate back at the factories. The limits imposed in the Sporting Regulations on CFD usage (now 30 Teraflops) and the new Wind Tunnel criteria will undoubtedly have an impact and is why the teams have been on overdrive to get the 2014 cars prepped ahead of the new restrictions which commence 1st January.

    • The idea of having the 6 or so available (including Cologne?) wind-tunnels filled for 50% of the time by two teams each is quite a good one I thought. No more have to be built at great cost, while those available now are used at pretty much full capacity. Unless this is what you mention in your post?

    • Just thinking out of the box.. is there any way of incorporating a Tesla turbine into the turbo in the 2014 regs? Or is it too impractical? This is the area of the regs open for improvement…

  9. I think, upon closer inspection, you’ll find that the Singapore crashmeister is called Nelson Piquet jr, not Newlon.

    • …what? Don’t tell me it’s a typo! After ‘Crashtor’ Maldonado I’ve been trying all this time to understand what wordplay ‘Newlon’ was!

      • If only another SC crash was instigated, with Bottas in a great position to benefit from it… we could speculate all day long on whether Pastor was being Crashtor or whether he’d been told to do it.. only snag is… with Cashtor paying he would have to be the recipient.. good luck trying to convince Bottas to crash on purpose!

  10. So, who will decide what number each driver gets? Do they get to pick whichever number they want and if two drivers opt for the same one then they would draw straws?
    I can see the point of marketing though. No 23 and Michael Jordan springs to mind!

    • Having watched since 1996/7, this numbering system seems the most F1 to me, if not reflecting the teams better like the one before it. It goes in order of constructor, which reflects last year’s skill and prize money allocation. The champion still keeping 1 reflects this. And it should be on the sport to market itself, not the teams to do it all anyway. Someone made the point somewhere that in the last however many years we have had over 100 drivers! So are we open for 3 numbers? Bagsy 789 or 989! I would say individual numbers suit individual-oriented sports – here the team arguably plays the biggest role, more-so than MotoGP (granted there are similarities).

      Todt has been (un)wise here to effectively put a finger up at the press in his retracted statement meant for the clubs (criticising Ward) after his re-election, and now is distracting the teams by engaging with proposals about numbers, double pit stops etc. (although that could be the teams themselves as well) While, of course, bigger issues such as small teams struggling to survive financially are swished under the carpet. The smaller teams’ only hope is if Brawn is made FIA commissioner and instigates a budget cap of $100-250m (i.e. keeps Red Bull’s vast overspend in check).

      Todt’s statement post-election for Cock-up of the year!

      • On the otherhand in the latter part of his career gilles Villeneuve drove with the no 27.

        • Don’t get me wrong i think the champion should have the no 1 car. But personal no’s does have it’s benefits. Everybody knows michael jordans number. Or Maradonas. Or rossis…

          • @blackjackfan. How old are you? It may just be you never saw his royal airness play. It’s quite simple actualy micheal jordan is one of the greatest ever. Like formula one has senna. Or boxing has muhammed ali, basketball has micheal jordan.

          • I’m with blackjack on this one. I thought he was a 400 metre runner!
            The way I see it is this, Senna, M.Ali, Maradona, Rossi and co are world sports superstars.
            Basketball is essentially an American sport, much like American football and baseball.
            If you happen to be interested then great you’ll know who these individuals are, but otherwise not a hope.
            On this site occasionally I read footballers names, or cricketers mentioned, if I don’t google them I haven’t got a clue.

            If that puts me in a club with BJF, then I’m in an exclusive club 😉

          • I’m obliged to you HeroWasSenna…

            Mr Bruznic – it’s not so much age as a life-long disinterest in ball games, except snooker…
            Give me wheels any time – doesn’t even have to have an engine… Does it Mr Papp… 😉

            Your Honour – I’m not too old to learn.

        • That was pure luck.
          I don’t know when the previous numbering system started, but each team was assigned a set of numbers which changed with the team who had the drivers champion in stable.
          For eg, when Hunt won his WDC in 1976, his teams numbers, 11 & 12 were adopted by Ferrari for 1977. The 1 &2 then moved to Brabham which is where Lauda moved to in 1978, therefore Mclaren took on the Brabham’s teams numbers from 1978 and Ferrari remained 11 & 12.
          In 1980, Ferrari ran 1 & 2 but the Williams team which won the WDC that year used 27 & 28, hence why Ferrari had those numbers.
          The current system is infinitely easier to understand except in 2008. Mclaren should have been given the last garages in the pits to mirror their 21 & 22 but that was never explained fully.
          Personally I think it’s tragic they only choose one if the ideas from MotoGP…

      • You don’t need 3-digit numbers, once a driver retires, that number becomes available for someone else to get. Unless it’s an iconic number (e.g. Alonso’s or Hamilton’s or Vettel’s number) in which case it won’t be touched for a few years’ time.

      • OK granted, with reason 3 digits aren’t needed. I know Rossi is 46, but the rest I do not know (someone here said Jordan is 13?). It seems Marquez’s 93 could become iconic, and I would choose 89 for the same reason. But for example team numbers like Gilles in the 27 have worked before, while acknowledging the role the teams play, and that the drivers are driving the team car as entered by them. Massa could have had an iconic number 2 Ferrari number this whole time he was in their cockpit (28?).

        What about, following on from 1994/5:
        Red Bull – 1, 2 (works great for Vettel/Webber)
        Mercedes – 3, 4 (old Tyrrell, fitting, also where they came this year)
        Williams – 5, 6 (Massa now the Red 5?)
        McLaren – 7, 8 (Classic, also where they roughly will be now)
        Caterham – 9, 10 (Now in Arrows’ Leafield base)
        Lotus – 11, 12
        Force India – 14,15 (Jordan)
        Toro Rosso – 23, 24 (Minardi)
        Ferrari – 27, 28
        Sauber – 29, 30
        Marussia – 31, 32 (Simtek) or 16, 17 (Pacific)
        And reserved for another French team – 25, 26 or 19, 20

        • Michael jordan is 23(in college it was 45, but when he turned pro someone already had 45. So he divided it by 2. But since 22,5 wasnt allowed he changed it to 23). Maradona is 10. Argentina didn’t play again with a no 10 until messi joined.

  11. Mandatory pit stops, permanent numbers. What’s next, tubular chassis with a fiberglass carcass to simulate a Formula car? Numbers are supposed to be on the nose of the car and the side panels of the rear wing, if they changed the rules and that’s the reason for numbers not showing in the rear wing anymore he (Todt) can change that. If the numbers are supposed to be in the rear wing but teams don’t care he is supposed to enforce the rules.
    Driver’s helmets are also full of sponsor’s decals and in this days is almost impossible to see anything of a driver’s heltmet with the side structures to protect the head. Who cares about the number? I want to watch real competition were participants earn they classification for next year, if I wanted to watch a show I would be watching WWE or NASCAR.
    Please Mosley come back, please.

  12. though it could it be Sutil has gone legal with the Indian ex-billionaire over his contract and no decision can be made at this time.

    Is this a known or just speculation???

      • So is it an assertion that Massa will be lead driver at Williams?

        I didn’t realize Williams had made such a bold decision this far in advance about 2014…

        • Well as the experienced driver, he will be the ‘lead’ driver, as Maldonado was this year. However, it’s still down to pace on track, so we could see more Bottas ahead of lead driver scenarios if Massa is not careful in the races.

          • It’s strange to see the term “lead driver” for an English F1 team before a season has even started.

            The implication of a #1 & #2 driver is incorrect at this time, unless Williams has stated that their policy will be to start the season by focusing the development of the car primarily around one driver. In contrast, McLaren have a consistent policy of supporting both drivers equally (even to the detriment of the WDC battle, because their primary focus is the WCC).

            In the article above, The Judge wrote, “With Mercedes engines…, Felipe Massa as lead driver and with Symonds…”

            That seems to be poorly worded if the meaning was to reference Massa’s experience instead.

          • Basically, I think we meant ‘lead driver’ in the sense that you would expect a higher percentage of development feedback from such an experienced driver. This makes them the ‘number one’ in terms of guiding car development direction, not necessarily to do so for their own direction, but for the team direction overall. It’s why ‘experience is valued’, else there would be no need to take it into consideration. It’s also not impossible that the younger driver could be better at this anyway, e.g. Rosberg when he came into F1. But Massa could also reveal how things were done at Ferrari, which might aid Williams too.

            But that said, we don’t expect it to lead to any favourability out on track, as they should be equal in that respect, and I feel we will see them equally matched in qualifying, and equally matched in the races, with the odd swing by a tenth or two to either driver at particular tracks.

            We are just assuming that Massa and Maldonado, with their extra racing experience, should be better than Bottas back in the factory, if Williams have cited experience as a key part of signing Massa. But unless someone from the team directly tells us, we won’t really know. Bottas being a fast adapter tells us he may be very good back in the factory and as a test driver, while Massa relying on Smedley a lot may reveal he still prefers to only drive cars prepared/directed in a certain way (early 2012 would back that up too). In that situation, as long as you can get the car how you like it, it should not stop you from getting to your peak performance (but nowadays that can seem to take longer with less testing).

          • Iestyn – Thank you for your thoughtful responses.

            Your last response is, with all respect, a rather heavily nuanced argument as to how “lead driver” could be a correct description for a driver who is new to a team but with more F1 experience than his team-mate who is not new to the team.

            Unless it is a reflection of the team’s actually policies, “lead driver” is inappropriate.

            I was calling out the Judge on that point alone (the team’s policies), as he often (but not always) has good reason to choose the words that we see from him.

            Finally, it’s worth noting that while I understand what you’re trying to say with”…guiding car development direction, not necessarily to do so for their own direction, but for the team direction overall,” I’m concerned about the naivite of this thought. Racers have driving styles of how they navigate a course quickly and how they manage the resources of their vehicle during a race. While there are similarities between these styles, the styles are unique. So that even if one driver is altruistically helping guide set-up and development work of a car for the betterment of both cars, a side-effect is that the car will likely be better suited to his own style. This will directly effect the performance of his stable mate. A team must work hard to manage that “side-effect” if they want to maximize the performances of both cars and drivers. An excellent (though unique) example of that would be Lotus bringing a lwb car for Grosjean, and swb car for Kimi to Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago. That example aside, a team will make a specific declaration for their technical department about managing equality of development and set-up for the two drivers. Sometimes we see some of that in public statements. For us spectators, it is very helpful to understand the guidance of the team on this issue. Which is why I called out the Judge on that sentence…

            The odds are that in this article above, “lead driver” was just an unusual bit of poor phrasing.

            I am impressed by your thoughtful responses, and again, I thank you for that.

          • Also good example Hamilton and Button 2012. They kept trying to develop the car to get Jenson faster and all that did was make Lewis slower.

          • I heard Bottas comment that he would be keen to learn from Massa’s experience. The exact context was unclear.

            I didn’t intend to suggest there was a team policy for a lead driver.

          • OK fair enough, I have to agree 🙂

            It does interest me in how Bottas came alive when the coanda exhaust was taken off the Williams, as the car was now better balanced. Imagine if they did that earlier..

            Button’s 2012 was strange.. from almost winning the first two races to being lapped in Canada. Kimi and Romain’s 2013 shows how cars/tyres can favour a certain driver’s style.This is actually the main argument against total spec cars, while having setup options can help different styles at least to adapt somewhat to a spec car. But how Kimi was more competitive with the short wheelbase car was very interesting, and shows what degree of changes would be needed for a car to suit both drivers.

            I guess it is inevitable that development will naturally tend to favour a driver, and perhaps whichever driver is giving the main feedback. McLaren were not impressed with Perez’s feedback (Q or consistency), while they adore Magnussen’s simulator work and hail it as better than Lewis. Originally, it was thought that Button and Perez having a similar style could lead to development being united and hence more beneficial for both moving forwards.

  13. RE Andretti and customer cars: that would be regression. F1 should maintain clear focus on forward movement and innovation. Budget caps work in NFL to promote competitiveness and a level playing field. But FIA is too corrupt for that or anything to work.

  14. Just noticed that in formula e, you vote for your fav driver and the most popular drivers get more horse power, guess Paul di resta won’t be doing that championship, he’d be buggered.

    • He might be totally buggered if Ganassi choose Briscoe over him (even with his cousin giving them a good word for him), and may have to hope to get the DTM seat over Calado who is the current Force India reserve driver.

  15. Is what I’m hearing about double points for the last race true? Or is it an interwebs prank?

  16. I am finding it hard to believe that Mercedes engineers are “surprised” that some manufacturer is able to test the V6 engine in a mule. The Jerez test is less than seven weeks away. To make that deadline, the working engines must be built and shipped to teams pretty soon. By now, everyone is expected to have run the V6 engines in some kind of mule, even if with a less than perfect engine maps. Either Mercedes is in trouble or they’re just playing mind games.

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