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To be frank, in a year such as this with the vast changes to F1 cars and how they will have to be driven, it is astonishing that a team like Lotus should declare their development programme is better suited by not participating in the first test in Jerez.
Of course it is cold early in the morning, and the circuit is doesn’t have the greatest surface, but test 1 is mostly a shakedown. It’s not about refining the machine or even the way the man at the wheel will drive it, though this year it will be surprising if the drivers don’t begin to learn about how they have to manage their resources.
Lewis Hamilton will agree I’m sure. Having finally flown the McLaren nest, his big day came last year yet his first outing in the Mercedes in Jerez 2013 ended up with him in the wall and the team realising the brakes were not quite right after just a handful of laps.
Lotus decision not to attend Jerez is indeed quite staggering. Yet TJ13 reported prior to Christmas that more than one team were concerned they would not make Jerez and today Eric Boullier is emphatic this will be the case.
Speaking to the BBC the Frenchman claims, “You will see, we will not be the only team not being in Jerez (the first test in southern Spain),” he said. “I know this for a fact already.
TJ13 is aware that Marussia are struggling to make the deadline, yet there is a significant difference between a team like Marussia and one who was challenging for race wins and for a while possibly second place in the constructors’ championship.
In a vain effort to present the Lotus team’s absence in Jerez as having a positive, Boullier admits, “It is true the car will not be ready on time, but we will be ready shortly after that – and in some ways, it is not bad because we will have time to watch what the others are doing and nobody will be able to watch what we are doing.”
Aha Eric! We believe you, but only for a split second.
With regard to the team’s long term security, Eric is bullish. “Everything is fine here. Lotus will be on the grid this year and for a long time.”
For native English speakers there is a nuance, an interpretation of the grammatical construction used here by Boullier which could suggest he is saying. “we will be on the grid… for a long time” – ie fail to get off it…”
Force India embrace the ‘stepped look’
The most obvious difference to the Force India team in 2014, will be the livery of the car. Gone will be all Mallya group companies and in will be entertainment and telecoms logo’s and colours.
It has been suggested to TJ13 that the billionaire Mexican Slim family have bought out Rob Roy (technically he was named at birth Subrata Roy.. oh well) of Sahara’s shares as he battles to avoid doing time in an Indian jail for ripping off millions of his fellow countrymen for billions of dollars.
However, new shareholders and colours are not the only changes afoot at the Silverstone based team. The FIA regulations on noses have attempted to lower the nose from the 2013 iterations to reduce the effects during a T-Bone style accident. A secondary effect of the lower nose regulations is an attempt to limit the air flow under the car which can be utilised by the diffuser to gain incremental downforce.
It appears that Force India maybe trying a version of the Red Bull flap seen on the RB8 and RB9 cars with the intention of improving downforce.
The new regulations insist the height of the nose above the front plane is reduced from 625mm to 525mm and a variety of tech interpretations have assumed the following will be the result.
Here the transition from the chasis to the nose would be a continuous line.
However, Force India are working on an interpretation which will continue to provide a step as follows.
Red Bull played with the idea of an open slat as demonstrated above, though the trade off between increase in drag appeared to outweighed the benefit of the increased downforce.
We will have to wait until Jerez to see if this is indeed implemented by Force India, but this would be an example of how the Silverstone team use relatively simple design concepts often devised first by others and re-work them.
Marketing company says F1 is good value
Repucom.net claim that the biggest benefactor in partnership with F1 is now Infiniti. They are the first F1 partner to exceed $1bn AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency) TV value and this despite live F1 being restricted for many to subscription TV.
“The luxury car maker, which entered F1 in 2011, is now the number one most exposed team partner in the sport, measured by calculating the amount of on-screen branding of the official qualifying and race broadcasts”, claim Repucom.
Nigel Geach of SVP Motorsport believes, “Excellent positioning of clear branding on both the Infiniti Red Bull Racing car, team and drivers in addition to significant airtime thanks to the team’s strong on-track performance throughout the year, gave INFINITI advertising equivalency value of over $1billion from Global TV coverage – an amazing achievement.
TV audiences which drive this value across the world are holding up well and with the increase of second screen activity and changing consumption of media – Formula One is still proving to be one of the biggest value returns in global sport.”
$1bn??? If that’s the case someone in the sponsor contracts division in Milton Keynes ought to be hastily drafting up a new agreement for Infiniti.
For F1 fans who were unsure why the ‘double points’ races appeared on the agenda – wonder no more. A certain vertically challenged individual from Suffolk is rubbing his hands as we speak.
Eddie Irvine text gets him 6 months in jail
Having recently enjoyed the F1 media limelight where he waxed lyrically about all things F1 and his private Caribbean island, Eddie Irvine today has been sentenced by a court in Milan to 6 months in prison.
Irvine was involved in a brawl in a nightclub in Milan in December 2008 with Gabriele Moratti – the son of an Italian politician.
Corriere Della Sera reports that Mr Moratti encountered Mr Irvine in the “Holywood” nightclub, a brief scuffle developed between them. Mr Irvine claimed he was hit from behind by Mr Moratti and that he suffered damage to an ear.
Following the incident, Eddie Irvine received threatening phone calls in his Milan hotel from an associate of Mr. Moratti. Both men sued.
The incident was provoked by a text sent by Irvine to a former girlfriend of Moratti.
Extensive appeals will probably see the case fall foul of the statute of limitations and spare the Irish ex-F1 driver the embarrassment of a having to wear a stripy uniform and break rocks.
Yet, during the trial Judge Formentin believes certain parties perjured themselves whilst giving evidence and has passed the matter to the public prosecutors’ office for investigation.
What indeed was in that text???
Ecclestone loses interest in testing
In days of yore an F1 fan could rock up to Silverstone most Wednesdays during the spring and summer months and watch an F1 car testing. Yet only a handful of people were usually there and the circuit made no charge for entry.
Following the exodus of the car manufacturers’ works teams, in 2010 as part of the cost-cutting measures a ban on in season testing was introduced.
Winter testing was organised by the teams and they would all pitch in to cover the $130-150,000 a day cost of hiring the circuits. Fans could attend and gain admission for free, and see the entire F1 field testing a car each for 8 hours a day.
The rising cost of attending a GP and the lack of in season testing suddenly drew more and more fans to the winter tests and predictably the circuit operators saw an opportunity to earn a coin or two.
They began charging for entry. It was a nominal fee starting at around 5 or 10 euro’s, but as the numbers increased the teams realised they had a bargaining position with the circuits. They refused to pay for the circuit hire on the basis that the organisers were making money from the fact they, the teams, were there.
The circuits agreed not wishing to lose the event and the prices were hiked so the entrance fee started at 10 euro’s and it would cost double that to sit in the grandstand opposite the pits. Merchandise sellers arrived, paying the circuits for their pitch and the food outlets began to open to feed and water the fans watching a long days testing.
Then in 2011, unusually the Jerez test included a Saturday and Sunday. The crowds had been around 3-4,000 each of the first two days.
When the Ferrari engineers and mechanics set off for the track on this morning, it must have felt more like preparation for a day’s testing at Fiorano rather than Jerez, as the fog was thick and the air temperature around zero degrees Celsius.
But Alonso was scheduled to drive for Ferrari and the queues outside the circuit had the feel that MotoGP was in town. The line of Maranello clad fans stretched for hundreds of metres at 8 o clock in the morning.
Field after field was opened for overflow car parking and the circuit – which usually restricted fans to turn 1, the grandstand opposite the pits and the final stadium section – was opened fully. The food and drinks sellers ran out of products to sell by 11am and the circuit organisers were on the phone trying to organise emergency restocking.
Every time the Ferrari went round, the Spanish fans should up, beat their ‘clapper sticks’ together, then sat down to carry on eating and drinking.
No official number was ever released though local opinion suggested maybe 30 or 40,000 were in attendance. Sunday at the circuit wasn’t quite as busy, but again the fans turned out en masse and the refreshment stalls coped until about 2pm when again they ran dry.
A number of drivers were surprised by the attendance and commented how fantastic it was to be testing in front of such crowds.
There was a carnival atmosphere and many questioned why the winter tests weren’t planned so that they fell on the weekend more often; and of course the circuito de Jerez did very nicely out of the weekend.
News travels fast in F1 land, and a certain small individual from Suffolk became aware of what had happened and particularly when there is an opportunity to make money. Later that year, FOM expressed an interest in setting the dates and running the winter tests, but this proposal was rejected by the FOTA and the other teams.
There is though a strange legal clause somewhere in the mountains of agreements signed over the years that FOM do control the commercial rights at an F1 test event where more than one car is running. However, because most testing is done on weekdays and FOM do not control the scheduling of the winter tests, the commercials aren’t attractive enough for FOM.
Again in 2013, moves were afoot as Ecclestone attempted to gain control over the scheduling of winter testing which he hoped to commercialise. However, this week, each team has received a letter from FOM stating, “We have decided it is better if the teams make the arrangements for tests as they have done so in the past”.
Strange… and a shame as many Spanish and fans of other nationalities would probably appreciate the teams being forced to run part of the tests test at the weekend…..
…[Blinding flash of light]………Oh yes… I see. Two thirds of winter testing is now in Bahrain where they’ll be hundreds of police and security forces deployed to ensure the safety of one man and his dog.
The Circuito de Jerez should then do even better this year despite the Tuesday to Friday test schedule, and some hotels close to the track were sold out back in November.