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Max is back in town
“Jenny Diver Oh Sukey Tawdry
Look out Miss Polly Peachum and Oh Lucy Brown
Yeah the line forms on the right, dear
Now that ‘Max’ is back in town……..
Who says the beautiful people don’t get a break. Max Chilton gets a second year driving for Marussia. Sceptics will suggest this is just a waste of time and a new driver with more potential should be given a chance – and that the reason Max is ‘in’ again is because of the money Max’s daddy pops into brown envelopes.
The evidence does show that new F1 drivers take some time to get to grips with the cars as do experienced drivers moving to a new team. 2013 as a benchmark was bastardised by the fact that Pirelli changed the tyres half way through the season, thus judging who improved was more difficult as certain drivers just enjoyed the mark II tyres more.
However, Both Esteban Gutierrez and Valterri Bottas appeared to be better drivers towards the end of the year, though their finishing positions only marginally reflect this.
Its good to see teams retaining rookie drivers for a second year as Bianchi, Bottas, Chilton and Gutierrez will all drive again for the same teams. The teams have enough to concern themselves with in 2014, without breaking in a rookie.
Marussia’s Graham Lowden explains the reasons for retaining Chilton. “Two things I think. One is the obvious one which is continuity, there are a lot of big changes for 2014, in particular the powertrain, but also some of the other regulations in Formula 1 and that was the most obvious thing.
I think the second thing is Max really showed us last year a little bit of what he can do, in particular from the mid-season break onwards he showed some really impressive gains. He was up against a team-mate who had had a lot more mileage in Formula 1 before the start of Max’s first ever season and mid-season onwards he really showed a big increase in speed and of course the reliability as well.
We were impressed that he was able to learn and progress, there was no plateauing or flat-lining, it was just constant improvement in every session and every race so we are really happy to have him on board for 2014 on merit.”
Yet Dutch fans must fear for the future of Van der Garde, as he may be out in the cold now that Kamui Kobayashi as back in town with the dollars behind him too.
When asked whether Marussia will make the Jerez test, Grhahm Lowden said, “Every team is working towards that, testing time in Formula 1 is incredibly limited, so if it is there and you can use it, you want to use it. That said there are a thousand tiny components that can stop you or slow you. But hopefully we will be there, that is certainly what we are planning for.”
Chilton’s driver number has not yet been released, though he may have liked 19 representing the record number of finishes for a rookie in a season – but Massa has this number.
Nice to see brother Jean took my cue on Friday and published the driver numbers at last. Here they are for those who missed it.
1: Sebastian Vettel.
3: Daniel Ricciardo.
44: Lewis Hamilton.
6: Nico Rosberg.
14: Fernando Alonso.
7: Kimi Raikkonen.
8: Romain Grosjean. *
13: Pastor Maldonado. *
22: Jenson Button.
20: Kevin Magnussen.
27: Nico Hulkenberg.
11: Sergio Perez.
99: Adrian Sutil.
21: Esteban Gutierrez.
25: Jean Eric Vergne.
26: Daniel Kvyat.
19: Felipe Massa.
77: Valtteri Bottas.
17: Jules Bianchi. *
TBC: Max Chilton. *
Both drivers still to be confirmed.
Here’s a quick quiz. Jenson and Kevin have numbers 20 and 22. Who and what are below?
BBC lose another quality presenter
TJ13 is first to report that Gary Anderson and the BBC are parting company with immediate effect. Anderson wanted an ‘expanded role’ in the station’s F1 coverage, however the BBC F1 producers refused to countenance this.
This is a blow to the beleaguered team presenting F1 on the BBC who have not fully recovered from losing Jake Humphrey in 2012. There are those inside the broadcaster who felt Anderson would be best placed to fulfil the anchor role in 2014, however it was eventually agreed his ‘image’ was not right for the lead presenter’s role.
Yet in a year where the sport’s regulations are vastly changed and the technical aspect of F1 will be more complex for the viewer than ever – this appears to be a bizarre decision.
An industry insider today tells TJ13 Anderson is likely to work with Autosport in 2014.
Other rumours include Anderson returning to F1 in some design consultancy role. The rotund and likeable Northern Irishman was harsh but fair with his comments over Ferrari and McLaren designs and modifications in 2013, with certain of his comments leading to tweaks in the way both teams approached a certain problem.
Yet another rumour is that the BBC is negotiating away their F1 rights and will no longer broadcast F1 from 2015 onwards. Anderson leaving would be a sign of Auntie scaling back operations with this in mind. This appears unlikely.
For UK SKY viewers the dream result would be
1) Jonny Herbert being sent back to the North Pole where his Father Christmas-esque figure and red face could be put to good use away from the rest of humanity
2) Gary Anderson joining the subscription channels F1 presentation team and turning the hours of SKY coverage that was inane comment in 2013 into something useful instead.
On a serious note, SKY would do well to consider broadening the experience of their F1 presenting team which one industry insider described as having the feel of an “ex-racing drivers club”. The BBC in 2013 had an ex team boss and ex car designer presenting which adds flavour.
Once again, live coverage of the F1 winter tests appears to have eluded the broadcasters due to the spectre of FOM controlling the commercial rights. SKY will however broadcast 30 minutes of highlights from each of the days testing in Jerez.
McLaren set for the challenge
The magnitude of Lotus failing to make the Jerez test will begin to dawn on F1 fans soon. Of course this has happened before and in 2010 Red Bull skipped winter test 1 and proceeded to become world champions.
But 2014 is different.
Gary Paffett as team test driver has spent hours in the McLaren simulator and says of 2014, “It is going to be exciting, the cars are very different to what we have had for the last few years. The downforce level in particular is a lot less than we have had – in the past the FIA have tried to reduce that, but this year they seem to have successfully done that – and the cars are a lot more difficult to drive, especially with the different power unit and the amount of torque that the turbo engines produce – even the medium to high speed corners are difficult without the blown downforce we have had in the last few years.
The cars are definitely a lot more difficult to drive, so it is going to be exciting to see how the drivers get on with it.”
The drivers are going to have to change the way they drive as the blown diffuser aero cars of recent times actually required a counter intuitive driving style – simply put aclerating at times when the brain said brake.
When asked how much the drivers would be required to change driving styles, Paffett replied, “They are definitely going to have to change it. I have worked in the simulator a long time on these cars and when I swapped back and forth from the (MP4-) 29 to the 28, you do have to change your style, the way you drive the car.
Working with Jenson (Button) as well, the first time he came to drive the car I spent a bit of time talking him through it and you could physically see him having to think about how to drive the car.
So the drivers are going to have to think about it and try and think how to get the best out of it because it is not just how the car handles and the balance of the car, but the way to use the tyres and use the fuel and all of the devices we have on the car now as well with regards to the KERS and everything else, it takes a lot more thought from the driver this year.”
Worryingly, Gary admits that McLaren never fully understood the mistakes of 2013 because, “the problem was some of the areas were too big to fix during the season”.
He has faith though that the 2014 car is progressing well. “Yes, I’ve seen the car in the workshop, they are working hard and the car will be in Jerez. It is going to be launched at Woking in a digital launch on the 24th (January) and then out on track on the 28th in Jerez.
I won’t be there, I am going to back at the factory on the simulator, looking on at the testing. There probably won’t be too much mileage on the first day, but we are going to be back in the simulator and ready for any feedback we can get from the drivers at track as to how we can help to develop the car over the first test.
But yeah, it is going to plan and when we get to Jerez we will know a lot more about it, but I think just understanding the powertrain and how it all works is going to be the first target which isn’t going to be too easy I don’t think.”
This would suggest that much of the Jerez test will be about understanding the engine and driveability of the car in line with the power – something Grosjean and Crashtor will not have the benefit of doing.
Lotus’ glib comments that by missing the first test they could watch everyone else without them being able to see what Lotus are doing – are beginning to seem quite facile.
Real resource restrictions?
By 2013, the RRA was allowing a maximum of 60 hours of wind tunnel time or 40 teraflops of CFD analysis. Teams could use a percentage based mix of both, and typically the big boys would use the wind tunnel for around 40 hours (66.6% of the total wind time allowable) and achieve 250 different runs. This left them just over 13 hours for CFD (33.3% of the CFD time allowed).
The top teams were typically managing 250 runs a week during their wind tunnel time and so were testing 250 new aero ideas on 250 models.
The new 2014 sporting regulations specify the teams can do a maximum of just 80 runs a week in the wind tunnel. This is an attempt to reduce the number of aero parts tested and control the pace of development during the year.
Of course this will take up just under 13 hours a week in the wind tunnel – a mere 21.3% of the 60 hours available leaving 78.7% of the CFD 40 teraflops available to the team (32 tf) . So teams will be spending more time on CFD and less time building models and running the wind tunnel.
Further, to reduce the time and money spent on models, only 1 model per day can be used in the wind tunnel and to prevent complex shape shifting models being designed, only front and rear wing angles can be adjusted during a run. Previously teams were spending fortunes on multiple models whereas now they will have to change the components on the one model.
A number of the midfield-smaller teams have not have the teraflop capacity to even utilise their allowance. Further, those teams with the most money will be invest in more expensive software which delivers up to 10 times as much per tera flop – thus increasing real CFD capacity by a factor of 10.
Interestingly, one of the reasons both Ferrari and McLaren have been using the Toyota wind tunnel facility in Cologne is because until recently it was the only facility with ‘constant motion’ and ‘constant data collection’ capabilities.
In other facilities during a run, the car would be put through various positions – ride height, pitch, roll etc and for each position a pause was required while the car and air flow was stabilised, then the readings could be taken.
Constant motion facilities reduce the amount of wind tunnel on time significantly. However, the move toward ‘contstant motion and data collection’ will deliver a huge increment in data collected – all of which needs to be analysed and interpreted.
Industry expert Scarbs believes, “On balance the small and midfield teams will end up on more equal terms, but the big teams will still be able to invest their way to a greater development rate despite these new restrictions”.
Finally, as is suggested when anyone speaks of ‘cost capping’, how will all this stop Ferrari – for example – doing a load of illegal CFD elsewhere in the empire of the prancing horse?
Cost of playing the F1 game
The cost of entering F1 is much larger than it used to be. There is a $500,000 flat fee and a charge of $6,000 per point which the team scored in the previous year.
This leaves Red Bull racing with an entry fee payable this month to the FIA of $4,076,000. Cash strapped Lotus will have to find $2.39m, whilst one benefit to McLaren from arguably their worst ever year in F1 is their 2014 entrance fee is a mere $1.232m.
In fact, Jean and his cronies in the Place de Concorde will receive some $11,800,000 from the teams entrance fees as a contribution towards their annual fine wine and snails expenses.
Wolff says ‘no bloodbath’
Every day F1 fans wake up wondering what the hell will happen this season. The anticipation levels are at a high not seen for many a year. We have heard snippets of information from different sources which give us an impression of what may happen, but in reality nobody knows.
What is becoming apparent is that teams failing to attend Jerez are going to be at a significant advantage, starting with the drivers. Toto Wolff believes, “Of course there will be lessons to be learned for the racing and for strategies. Whoever is going to do it quicker and anticipate things quicker is going to be there.”
Hardly a comforting thought for Lotus fans.
One perception fostered by Renault and Alain Prost a few months back is that reliability could be a huge problem and some technical analysts believe that at the Jerez test the circuit will be littered with smoking wrecks of cars being removed in the usual sedentary fashion of the Marshall’s from Spain’s most southern track.
Speaking to Autosport, Wolff thinks this will not be the case. “I don’t think that it is going to be a bloodbath with cars not being on track and breaking down. But it is not going to be the usual testing, when you have an evolution of technical regulations and we are going to do 100 laps per day.
It is probably going to be something in the middle. But this is part of a new development that you need to run to find out what the problems are. This is why we are going testing.”
Jerez will not tell us who will win the 2014 title, but it may well tell us who is ‘not at the races’ – so to speak. So were one of the front running teams to not get decent mileage in, the obvious conclusion would be they are having significant problems with their package.
Williams confirmed today they will be attending winter testing 1. “We’ll be on track in Jerez in just over 2 weeks…. and everyone is looking forward to getting going now!” they posted on twitter. Other’s who are confirmed are McLaren, Mercedes, Caterham, Red Bull, Toro Rosso (if Daniil Kvyat is to be believed) and Ferrari. Marusia intend to be there, Sauber and Force India have yet to comment.
John Button dies
Father of Jenson Button, John, has been found dead today in his home in the south of France. It is suspected that John Button who recently celebrated his 70th birthday died of a heart attack.
Speaking on behalf of McLaren, team principal Martin Whitmarsh said in a statement: “I want to say how very sad I was to hear the news of John’s passing. In my long Formula One career, I’ve encountered many drivers’ fathers, but I think it’s safe to say that John was perhaps more devoted to his son than any of them.
Ever since Jenson was a boy, racing go-karts, his dad has been at his side, helping him, supporting him, finding the money for the next race. As Jenson grew older, and continued to win in cars, still John was always there, his most steadfast helper and supporter.
And, even now, in recent years, during which Jenson has become the consummate Formula One world champion that he is, the most experienced driver on the Formula One grid in fact, still John has been ever-present, as loyal and as loving as ever, a benign and popular member of Jenson’s small and intimate entourage.
This coming season will be Jenson’s fifth as a McLaren driver. I believe John has attended every grand prix over the past four seasons, and over that period he’s become a unique and, I think it’s fair to say, irreplaceable part of the McLaren ‘family’.
He was not only a great dad, but also a lovely man, and he’ll be enormously missed by Jenson, of course, by all at McLaren, and indeed by the Formula One community at large. I’m sure that everyone at McLaren, and indeed everyone in Formula One, will join me in sending our heartfelt condolences to Jenson, to the Button family, and to their many friends.”
John was a racer himself, but enjoyed watching his boy more than he did competing
Gary Hartstein tells of how John raised a son who has kept his head firmly on his shoulders despite the mega-stardom that his career brought. “I remember checking in at the Suzuka Circuit hotel next to John and Jenson. John insisted there be an iron in Jenson’s room. I was a bit surprised, and John saw the quizzical look on my face. “He irons his own shirts man, and he always will”, he told me. Jenson just smiled. It’s not easy to raise a talented child, and even harder to raise him or her balanced and healthy and good. John made that look easy”.
John was the kind of guy who loved and lived life to the full. His enthusiasm was never dented by the facts and one of my fond memories of him was in Jerez last year following Jenson setting a time first time out in the car which stunned Felipe Massa.
Clearly not having the best technical understanding, John was explaining how the new McLaren MP4-28 had ‘very special bells and whistles on it’ whilst smoking a giant cigar. He was adamant Jenson’s lap time was an indication that McLaren had built a field leading car and Jenson was going win a second world drivers title.
A few days later I suggested to John that the team were admitting they’d made an assembly error on the car which had helped deliver the ‘unbelievable’ lap time for Jenson. He laughed and said, “who cares, if it’s that quick with bits on it which are upside down – how fast will it be when they put it together properly.”
John was a fabulous bloke and those close to him will miss him dearly as he was a larger than life character, loved by all and it will be a sad and difficult time for his family. Our thoughts are with them at this time.
RIP John Button (aka ‘Papa Smurf’): 1943-2014
Rush gets zip
Having been nominated for two Golden Globe awards, the F1 film ‘Rush’ ended up with nothing.
Universal Studios’ “Rush” was nominated for Best Picture – Drama, but lost out to “12 Years a Slave.” Meanwhile Daniel Brühl, who played Niki Lauda in the film, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor – drama but lost out to Jared Leto of “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Niki Lauda did attend to present the film category award, though for F1 fans who eulogised over the movie which retold the story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt’s rivalry, there is now the hope of a technical award at the Oscars. Categories such as best soundtrack which the Golden Globe awards do not recognise.
The film did received mixed critical reviews both from industry writers and from those in F1 who were irked by aspects of the portrayal of James Hunt.
Williams expand with new technical personnel
The Williams F1 Team has expanded its engineering team as part of its on-going work to strengthen the technical leadership structure at Williams ahead of the 2014 Formula One World Championship season.
As part of this process, Jakob Andreasen has joined as Head of Engineering Operations and will work under Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds. Previously at Force India, Jakob’s focus will be on better integrating trackside operations with the continued design and development of the Williams-Mercedes FW36 at the factory.
Jakob is supported by two further appointments in Craig Wilson, Head of Vehicle Dynamics, and Rod Nelson, Chief Test & Support Engineer. Craig returns to Williams from Mercedes to strengthen the engineering team in applying vehicle modelling and analysis to help bring further improvements to on-track performance. Rod joins from the Lotus F1 Team to head up the team’s testing programme including leading the group at the factory that provide support and analysis from Grove over all race events.
Reporting directly to Jakob, Max Nightingale is promoted to Head of Vehicle Science to ensure a focus on performance within the new structure which will improve the connection between race operations and on-going development work.
Pat Symonds, Williams F1 Team Chief Technical Officer, said; “Williams is determined to make strong improvements in our competitiveness over the coming seasons and these new appointments continue our aggressive approach in recruiting some of the sport’s best talent. We are also committed to allowing our existing talent to grow and showcase their skills in senior leadership roles. Our engineering team for the coming season is looking strong and I’m excited about what we can achieve moving forwards.”